A Michelin rant

It’s time once again for my annual rant about Portugal’s Michelin Guide, in the hope that the powers that be will finally wake up and realise what a pathetic job their inspectors are doing when it comes to our beloved Algarve.

I buy the guide every year, and costing nearly €30 it is hardly cheap, but I am starting to wonder why they bother including Portugal in it at all. I get the feeling that the inspectors view our region as a gastronomic desert where only the few establishments they have deemed worthy of a Michelin star (or two) are worth the attention of those who use the guide.

I was, of course, very happy to see that my friend Leonel Pereira at Restaurant São Gabriel was finally awarded the Michelin star he should have earned years ago, but that is the only improvement I could find over last year’s guide.

The Michelin Guide however is not just about fine dining; it is supposed to be a guide for motorists showing where they can get a good meal, including the best restaurants for traditional local cuisine alongside the best of the more swanky establishments.

In Spain, they do a fine job and I take the guide with me whenever I drive across the border – it has done me proud. But I pity the tourist visiting Portugal who attempts to use the guide, as especially in the Algarve he may well go hungry.

In Olhão for example, one the Algarve’s most important fishing ports where there are many great places to eat, there is not one single restaurant listed and the same applies to Sagres where Mar à Vista Restaurant is well known for its excellent food in a great location above Mareta beach. But nothing.

And then there is Silves, a city that is not even included in the guide, let alone the Algarve’s best seafood restaurant Marisqueira O Rui.

And my home town of Carvoeiro, or more broadly speaking the whole of the Lagoa town council, has only one restaurant featured, L’Orange, which although a nice enough place to eat is hardly the gastronomic reference of our area.

Has nobody ever told the Michelin inspectors that we have two of the Algarve’s very best fish restaurants? Restaurants that people travel to from far and wide, like O Sueste in Ferragudo and Rei das Praias at Caneiros beach? Then, what about Bon Bon for fine dining and O Barradas on the old road to Silves? Any food lover who knows the area knows that these are all restaurants of outstanding quality.

This year’s guide is once again nothing short of an insult to the gastronomy of this region. I for one have written to them personally and will make sure a copy of this article finds its way to the editor.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]