Name of establishment
Gusto - Conrad Algarve
Ultra-modern, as befits the signature restaurant of one of the Algarve’s leading luxury hotels. Gusto has low-lit Scandinavian-inspired interiors, and features a bar area, a selection of standard and high-table seating configurations in an open-plan layout, an open kitchen allowing you to watch the chefs at work, and an outside terrace.
A stylish and sophisticated dining environment, yet at the same time relaxed and decidedly un-stuffy. You can dress up, but smart-casual attire is also more than acceptable - this is the Algarve after all, and the hotel caters for a wide cross-section of both leisure and business travellers. It is certainly nowhere near as formal as many Michelin-starred restaurants: the feeling is of a smart London or Lisbon restaurant, with a combination of style, sophistication and a city vibe that is not usually found in the Algarve. It could be one of the reasons the local resident population is in love with it.
What to eat?
The food is modern Mediterranean, and whilst the emphasis, in particular, is on the Italian cuisine for which Heinz Beck (see below) has become famous, use is made of the best of local ingredients, and includes the occasional Portuguese twist.
Diners have the choice of the a la carte or the tasting menu, both of which are changed on a regular basis.
Beef carpaccio with cep mushrooms and herbs (€16)
Crispy veal terrine on light garlic cream and artichokes (€11)
Mixed salad with grilled prawns, strawberry and green asparagus (€13)
Turbot curry with light pesto sauce and seasonal vegetables (€28)
Duck breast with marinated figs, topinambur puree and mustard seeds sauce (€22)
Suckling pig secreto with apple crème, paksoy and manioc chips (€18)
Cocoa sable with chocolate cremoso and strawberry sorbet (€12)
Orange jelly with bergamot ice cream and edible flowers (€7)
A watching brief
Internationally-renowned Heinz Beck is the creative force behind La Pergola, the 3-Michelin starred restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri, one of the top gastronomic destinations in the world. His unique take on Italian cuisine can also be witnessed at the one Michelin-starred Apsleys in London and Café les Paillotes in Pescara, Italy.
An award-winning chef and author of numerous best-selling cookbooks, he has worked closely with the Conrad management team to devise the concept and cuisine for Gusto, and visits the hotel on a regular basis to discuss new menu ideas and host masterclasses.
What to drink?
An extensive wine list offering Portuguese and international wines, including:
Around 20 Portuguese wines available by the glass (price range €5-24)
A selection of French and Portuguese champagnes/sparkling wines (upwards from €27)
Wide selection of whites, reds and rosés from Portugal (Benchmark prices: Carm 2011 white - €28; Quinta do Carmo 2008 red - €38)
Choice selection of other wines from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the New World.
Extensive port and dessert wine list.
Why do you like it?
Additional competition for restaurants in the Golden Triangle! The ‘bar’ has undoubtedly been raised.
Offers a quality dining experience without the formality.
The open kitchen is a great idea - genuine foodies will be fascinated by the comings and goings of preparation and service.
What could be improved?
A little more inventiveness with desserts perhaps?
You can book a table via the online reservation system.
The restaurant also features a "Gus-to-go" take-out concept and a Cuban Cigar menu.
56 covers inside, plus 44 on the outside terrace, open from May to October. There is also additional seating space at the bar.
Lobby level of the Conrad Algarve hotel (which is opposite Quinta Shopping in Quinta do Lago).
Address: Estrada da Quinta do Lago, 8135-106 Almancil.
Sample a la carte prices as above.
The 8-course tasting menu, usually comprising amuse bouche, four starter/mains, two desserts and petit fours, is priced at €52.
Optional Portuguese wine pairings (five wines) are priced at €18 and €27.
Restaurant: Five days a week for dinner (7pm - 11pm) throughout the year. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (but open on Tuesdays during July and August).
Open for lunch on the terrace from Wednesday to Sunday, from 12.30 to 3.30pm, during summer.
Bar: 6pm - 1am (on the same nights the restaurant is open).