There’s a new kid (or perhaps I should say calf) on the block at Quinta do Lago, one of Europe’s most prestigious golf resorts. The Bovino Steakhouse is the latest dining offer at Quinta which already boasts some pretty tough competition, particularly Casa do Largo, it’s signature lakeside fish restaurant, that has attained almost legendary status on the Algarve.
The Quinta crowd is by nature, well used to fine dining and high standards, so no pressure then on Bovino, a concept which on the face of it shouldn’t be too arduous. After all, a steakhouse pretty much does what it says on the tin; the expectation is dry-aged steak and all things bovine. It’s the delivery, decor and dynamic that will make all the difference.
Well, as far as decor goes, there can be no argument, for this is a masterly piece of work by designer Lázaro Roza-Violán; practically teleporting a vintage New York steakhouse across the Atlantic to materialise on Quinta do Lago’s manicured lawns while adding more than a few modern twists. Part brick part wood it is a huge space with a generous cocktail bar and waiters dressed in dark jeans, braces, black shirts and red bow ties. Within the dining area lies a maze of dark brown banquettes and studded red chairs illuminated by a chorus of lighting leading to a glass-fronted kitchen and its army of chefs.
It’s an impressive restaurant to walk into. 8.30 pm and Bovino is busy and buzzing. Even more impressive is the skill of the cocktail mixers who do not take their profession lightly. This is serious business. Jorge, the restaurant manager introduces me to Carl, a gentleman who has more magic in him than Dynamo when it comes to creating cocktails. I order a Smokey Fashioned (€18) , the Bovino take on the classic Old Fashioned and it did not disappoint, with Carl proudly presenting my glass as if it were delicate parchment. A labour of love for sure.
The smoke from real wood chips literally billowing out of the glass “let it rest for a few minutes” he tells me “it will taste even smokier.”
He wasn’t wrong.
I opt for the Mediterranean board starter; a triumphant combination platter of cold cuts which includes grilled dry spiced Provolone, the famous black Iberico ham, mozzarella, rocket and marinated vegetables.(€15.50). My partner chooses a more modest cured and smoked salmon on a bed of guacamole (€11.50), but as satisfying none the less.
Clearly, it would be foolish not to indulge in steak at a steakhouse, but there are other options for the non-beef eaters among you, including lobster, bream, lamb, and salads, risotto and pasta for vegetarians.
All the beef at Bovino is grass-fed, aged on the bone for a minimum of 28 days and then stored in a “specially designed cold room to extend the ageing process.” With so much science behind it how can I resist the chateaubriand for two (€70) plus an added surf to the turf in the shape of a tiger prawn. Other steak cuts include Wagyu fillet (€49) Porterhouse on the bone (€31) and a marbled rib-eye (€23) and all steaks come with a selection of sauces and sides.
In reality, the chateaubriand was a little too well done for me, I feel you should always err on the red side and leave room for more cooking rather than drive down the road of no return. That said though, the portion was more than generous with a woody charcoal aroma permeating through as advertised.
“You simply cannot miss out on the New York Cheesecake” pleads Jorge, who is once again proved right as we both battle it out to devour one portion between us.
Around me, tables are emptying out after a busy few hours, and from what I can see looking pretty satisfied with their evening’s eating. Let’s face it, this must be a tough crowd.
I think Bovino is an excellent addition to the Quinta clutch of restaurants. It’s got great atmosphere, a magical cocktail bar and a very impressive wine cellar. It may not reach Casa do Largo heights simply because I’m not sure the concept will allow it, but if your thing is steak you won’t leave hungry.
Tell me more about Bovino Steakhouse at Quinta do Lago
Bovino Steakhouse off roundabout 6 at Quinta do Lago. Tel: +351 289 007863
Other Quinta do Lago restaurants are Casa Do Lago, The Shack, (Lakeside tapas) Gigi (lunches only) Koko Lane and Pure Cafe.
Park at Luton Airport with Holiday Extras parking from £2.99 per day.