By Punam Verma
I knew I could eat a lot, but I may have found my limit at Ocean Restaurant in Portugal.
Located at Vila Vita Parc hotel in the Algarve, Ocean Restaurant is a michelin two star award winning dining experience. Executive Chef Hans Neuner has won many awards and is only one of three Michelin two star chefs in Portugal.
When I asked him exactly how many dishes we would be eating his answer was, how much can you eat!
We sat down at 7.30pm and didn't leave until 11.30pm because Chef Hans decided to serve us thirteen courses. YES, thirteen!
The restaurant directly overlooks the ocean, hence the name, and is designed with coral samples across one side of the wall, whilst the entrance is decorated with glass from Murano in Italy.
From the moment you arrive and sit down you are literally centre of attention. The staff watch you like an eagle from the corner of their eye to make sure everything is perfect for you, however at the same time you are still left alone to have your dinner in private.
With each dish comes a different glass of wine which are all local wines from Portugal, and everytime you are served a glass of wine, the waiter will explain exactly where it is from and how it is made.
Also, with each new serving comes a new table setting, and if you get up to go to the bathroom or drop your napkin on the floor, within a second it is picked up, discarded and a new one is folded to perfection and left on your table.
Each dish is served on its own individually designed plate, completely different in texture, taste and colour to the last one.
Some of the dishes we were served consisted of pumpkin egg, oyster and foie gras, prawns and cuttlefish, sole with truffles, mullet and sweet potatoes, black pork, and of course not forgetting some of the desserts such as raspberry macarron and chocolate maracaibo.
Now thirteen dishes may sound like a lot, and it is, but because the portions are small and delicate you don't feel like you have overeaten. This type of dining is meant to be savoured slowly and appreciated fully.
The intricate fine details that go in to the presentation of each dish is like looking at a piece of art. You will find fresh flower petals sprinkled carefully over one of the dishes, or goats butter rolled in to golden balls. Everything has been placed to perfection, so that the taste and presentation work beautifully side by side.
When I asked Chef Hans if he is constantly under pressure to stay on top of his game, he had a simple answer. When you love what you do it doesn't feel like pressure.
The only pressure you may have whilst dining here is trying to finish all thirteen dishes, but if you are anything like me when it comes to food, that won't be a problem.
Thanks for the bloopers Chef Hans!