Where classics meet the contemporary

By Daisy Sampson, in Food & Wine · 18-04-2019 12:19:00 · 0 Comments
Where classics meet the contemporary

Whether you are in the cosy dining room during the winter months or enjoying al fresco meals during the summer, Cacto Restaurant is able to offer guests a range of classical dishes complimented by their changing seasonal menu

If you are driving west along the EN125 to Lagos then you will have driven through Odiáxere, a small Portuguese town where time appears to have stood still. Granted, there is not too much to do here once you have seen the windmill (which has to be one of the best local examples in the area to be fair), however it is well worth making a stop in Odiáxere to sample the food at Cacto Restaurant.

Located along the main road, Cacto Restaurant instantly stands out from the other buildings that line the EN125, in no small part thanks to the lush greenery that surrounds the entrance and leads you up the steps into a welcoming outdoor terrace area.

The large terrace is the perfect location for a summer meal, however as we were visiting on a cooler evening we were welcomed into the main dining area of the restaurant by Jean-Michel where we were instantly greeted by the warmth of the fire place.

The indoor dining area is filled with character, with an eclectic mix of decorations lining the walls, while the beam lined ceiling helps to amplify the warmth of the atmosphere.

You are not going to find any paper table cloths at Cacto, nor any paper napkins, here the tables are adorned with linen and lit with the gentle glow from paraffin lights.

The menu at Cacto is split into two distinct themes, the “Classics” and then the changing seasonal menu which reflects the flavours of the time of the year. All of the dishes have an international feel, however the classics are available all year round.

Since taking over the business almost a year ago, Jean-Michel has worked to maintain the favourites that regular guests have come to enjoy but now uses the seasonal menu items to try new dishes, while the changing dish of the day ensures that diners can always try something fresh and new in the restaurant.

Here the service is prompt and friendly, Jean-Michel makes guests instantly feel welcomed and relaxed and is happy to offer suggestions for any indecisive diners.

We decided to sample dishes from both sides of the menu to get a real feel for the style of cooking from the Austrian chef, with Jean-Michel recommending the hot crusted camembert and the gravalax to start.

The portions were more than generous, with both dishes offering bold flavours and innovative plating, while the camembert dish was an experience in itself thanks to the pastry top you crack through to reach the delicious rich cheese below. The salmon was also incredibly moreish with Jean-Michel explaining that the entire preparation is made in house.

Other starters that piqued our interest on the menu included the onion soup with Dutch cheese gratin, the veal carpaccio, and the cold roast beef platter served with crudités and green salad, however we did need to save some space for the next course!

For the main course we chose fish parmentier from the classic side of the menu and then salmon en croûte from the seasonal menu. Having never tried fish parmentier before I was intrigued to see what the dish would be like. It arrived in a piping hot bowl where you could instantly see the juicy avocado peeking through the melted cheese on the top, digging down I found fresh pieces of bright white cod, mashed potatoes and prawns all served within a rich white wine and leek sauce. Again this was a very hearty portion of food, filled with flavour and ideal to warm you through on a chilly evening.

The salmon dish was presented beautifully, showcasing the perfectly cooked fish and pink of the salmon within the tasty pastry case. Alongside the salmon was creamy béchamel sauce and baby spinach to added a pop of freshness to the entire dish.

Both plates were well presented and arrived at our table without a long pause between the courses and we accompanied the meal with a glass each of the house white wine, which was both fragrant and fresh.

Peering across the room to the dishes that other diners were enjoying, we saw Jean-Michel bring out some beautiful looking prawns that had been cooked with garlic, butter and olive oil, a very generous serving of lamb shoulder from the oven, cooked slowly with red wine and herbs, and one of the favourites of returning guests, pan fried liver with bacon served with potato purée and Calvados sauce.

To be honest I am not sure that we really needed to have dessert after all the food we had already enjoyed but when the dessert menu was brought over it was too tempting to resist. We opted for the Cacto style Eton Mess and Café Gourmand which involved three miniature desserts to sample.

The Eton mess was served in a large glass and was packed full of strawberries and fruits all combined with the all important cream and meringue, the soft fruits working perfectly with the crunch of the meringue as you plunged your spoon in for more.

The trilogy of desserts came served with a coffee of your choice and I was treated to a small portion of rich chocolate mousse with a hint of Tia Maria as one of the desserts, a lemon sorbet with lemonchello as the second and finally, two daintily presented petit fours.

As we left the restaurant for the drive back home, I was very happy to have made the stop in Odiáxere, and as it turns out, the town has more than just a windmill to be proud of, Cacto restaurant should also be putting the town on the map too.

Cacto Restaurant is located on the EN125 in Odiáxere near Lagos and is open Friday to Tuesday, from 6.30pm until 9.30pm.

For further information or to make a reservation, please call 282 798 285 or 935 526 008, visit www.cactorestaurant.com


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