Name of establishment
Herdade dos Grous, near Beja
Your very own Alentejo estate. Set in acres of natural rural landscape including lakes, fields, olive groves and vineyards, the Herdade comprises a series of buildings including the main house (the location of reception, the restaurant, the lounge bar and the wine shop) plus outlying luxury cottage-style lodges offering private accommodation.
The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner to non-staying guests however - ideal if you are already in the Alentejo, or simply heading up for a day-trip treat from the Algarve.
Best described as rustic-chic: in other words traditional Alentejo style but with the quality touches you would expect, as the Herdade is under the same ownership and management as the five-star Vila Vita Parc hotel and resort in the Algarve.
There’s also an outside terrace with views over the lake and the vineyards, which is open in fine weather.
Superb organic lamb, beef and pork are farmed on the estate, and these, along with their own organic fruit and vegetables, form the basis of much of the menu.
Typical starters are asparagus (€4.50), presunto (€5) and morcela sausage (€5), whilst main courses include pork with potato, apple and pumpkin (€15), chicken with sweet potatoes (€16) and great steaks (€18). The sweet selection includes Alentejo rice pudding (€5.50) or a local cheese platter (€6).
Like the décor, the style is traditional Alentejo but with a sophisticated touch, and the portions are enormous, so go very hungry!
For something a little lighter, there’s also the choice of cheeses, presunto and other tapas dishes from the bar.
As you would expect, the award-winning Herdade dos Grous in its various forms – Branco, Branco Reserva, Tinto, 23 Barricas, Moon Harvested and Reserva – features heavily on the wine list, at prices that cut out the middle-man. But there’s also a wide selection of other Portuguese labels.
Why do you like it?
As well as eating superbly and booking a wine tour and tasting, you can also go boating, horse riding or walk for miles around the estate. The scenery is idyllic, and this is a perfect place for nature lovers, photographers, painters and birdwatchers, or just anybody who has forgotten what clean, fresh air is like, and how stress-free life should be in an ideal world.
It’s a short drive into Beja, one of the Alentejo’s most historic and interesting towns - well worth a visit if you can tear yourself away from the Herdade for a few hours.
When to go?
The restaurant is open to non-residents all year. In autumn and winter, it’s a great ‘indoors’ place where you can escape the cooler or wetter weather in a cosy and cosseted environment. In spring and summer, enjoy your meal al fresco.
The wine shop, which organises tastings and tours, is also open all year round.
An incentive company from Austria book the Herdade for small groups for most of the summer, so if you want to stay overnight, accommodation is only usually available between November and March.
On the outskirts of Albernoa, about 17km south of Beja on the IP-2. Clearly signposted - look out for the billboard on the left just after the village of Entradas.
It’s less than an hour's drive from Albufeira for example, so perfectly accessible for the day.