Take a young and enthusiastic team from the corners of Europe with an eye for detail, design and the finer things in life and bring them together in the pretty random location of Poço Partido and et voilà, you have SEMI XO.
This is not your typical restaurant, in fact, it’s so much more than that — it’s a lounge, a bar, a meeting place, a social dining venue with a very well kitted out kitchen that hosts the creative young Portuguese chef José Abreu.
The stylish and comfortable interior design was taken care of by Concept by Edd’s. It’s an ample space, and they have succeeded in creating an intimate dining room, with an enormous central bar where guests are encouraged to sit and enjoy a drink or one of the chefs’ creations, perfect for solo dining or more casual evenings. A lot of attention has been taken to extend this area, making it something of a central focal point whilst allowing it to blend into the side of the space, quite an achievement indeed. Soft lighting and sizeable backed bar stools encase the bar affording maximum comfort for its patrons.
The furnishings have been sourced from various outlets globally, and you’ll find soft touches that contrast with large wooden tables, sumptuous upholstery and warm fabrics carefully dotted around to enhance the luxurious feel of the lounge and dining area. Art pieces, cool mixed lighting and retractable poser tables are strategically placed alongside some jolly, swinging monkey coat hangers that add a sense of playfulness and light-hearted fun to the walls.
Semi can be considered the same as somewhat or partially, and XO can be understood as hugs and kisses or alternatively known as extraordinary. Here, we have a concept that is somewhat extraordinary and very far from the norm in many ways. The location may be thought as a little out of the way, but it’s surrounded by villas and resorts and the road is used as a bypass for residents heading to and from the top end of Carvoeiro.
The kitchen is packed with state-of-the-art cooking machinery and gadgets including a Big Green Egg and a Japanese robata grill, so guests can rest assured that their grilled dishes will have that unique and delicate flavour that’s synonymous with charcoal grilling. General Manager Michelle has taken great care in selecting the wine list and after much consideration, has found refreshingly different wines from some popular producers. They, of course, stock their family wine, Edd’s, along with the local cooperative Cabrita from Silves, but these may well be the only labels that you recognise in their menu with some Portuguese and Spanish wines making the list to compliment the dishes.
Ever steering away from the crowd, the menu is French-Asian. Both cuisines are loved globally, and each has fundamental characteristics and techniques that chef José loves in equal measures. Preparation has been essential to finding just the right suppliers, and they’ve taken months to source Portuguese beef with a minimum of 30 days dry ageing and even have their very own fisherman… it’s a long story.
The focus in the kitchen is on buying the best available ingredients and the owners are big foodies so herbs and spices from Morocco to Asian grace the pantry and even the charcoal has been specially sourced for consistent productivity. With such beautiful raw ingredients, it’s no surprise that they have a selection of tartars and oysters on the menu, seasoned to perfection and not overworked. It would be a crime to cover up quality produce with sauces.
The menu features a curry dish, vegan and vegetarian fare, but for the most part, it’s a carnivore’s dream. The desserts are all classics and made in-house with a big chunky apple pie and cream, tiramisu and crème brûlée, to name a few.
The professional front of house team is led by Michelle, who herself has a vast experience working in restaurants. Her attentiveness, experience and care are evident and leave you feeling well looked after without the fuss. Music was an important factor too — they’ve fitted a serious sound system, and the acoustics are spot on, not too loud but loud enough to enjoy.
With alluring street appeal, a warm and bona fide welcome and superb décor, the first impressions are wonderful. The service is spot on, and the food is another level. Whatever the occasion, after work drinks, meeting friends, a date, a family dinner, a bit of alone time or a celebration, SEMI XO has it covered.
There’s onsite parking and a lovely terrace where you can enjoy the late afternoon sun. Currently open from 4.30pm, closed on Sunday and Monday.
(+351) 915 555 977