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A Portuguese house, for sure

by Paulo Santos


It is called Alfama, but the Portuguese identity of this restaurant goes far beyond the name.

The name belongs to a well-known neighbourhood in the city of Lisbon. Except that this Portuguese establishment is in Madeira, at the Suite Hotel Eden Mar. It is called Alfama because it is a Portuguese restaurant which has added a fusion of other flavours and is now also a touch Mediterranean.
So you can enjoy typically Portuguese dishes, including Madeiran ones. But the options include risottos or duck, with Mediterranean seasonings.
Chef Élio Canada explains the concept: ‘We tried to take Mediterranean cuisine, which is very broad, and incorporate it into the menu, making it lighter and more up-to-date, both in terms of plating and nutrition, and creating a fusion between Portuguese cuisine and Mediterranean flavours’.

For the chef, it is important for the restaurant menu to reflect the ‘great gastronomic variety’ that Portugal enjoys. Élio Canada has no doubt that ‘we have the best fish there is’. What’s more, the agricultural produce is ‘amazing’. The idea is that Alfama conveys this diversity, a little of the ‘essence of Portugal’. This can be proven by a quick glance at the menu. But more than anything it can be appreciated in the flavours on offer, with dishes such as cod ‘brandade’, sea bream fillet, lamb shank and octopus, or sea bass, which is so common in Portugal.
As the restaurant location, Madeira features prominently amongst the Portuguese dishes on the Alfama’s menu. Here too, the chef highlights the ‘high-quality produce from the island’, with a variety that he considers sufficient to ‘reinvent’ the tradition of Madeiran cuisine. The menu includes beef kebabs, and black scabbard fish filled with shrimp and banana aioli. And, of course, fried corn on the cob and Madeira wine sauce are not forgotten.
The menu changes on average twice a year, in spring and autumn. But some dishes are restaurant classics. Chef Élio Canada draws our attention to the ‘crispy scabbardfish stuffed with shrimp and banana aioli with seasonal vegetables and lemon beurre blanc sauce, and the regional beef kebab’, and adds that there is a natural curiosity among customers for Madeira’s own products and dishes.
This whole mix of Mediterranean flavours finds harmony in the Alfama menu, where the service is careful and attentive, the dining area relaxed and pleasant, and the food comforting.
The Alfama experience takes advantage of Madeira's benign climate. Outdoor dining, in the solarium area near the pool, is on offer practically all year round. But the restaurant also has an agreeable indoor area, decorated in relaxing colours.

Portuguese wines accompany the dining experience; the menu spans several regions of the country, and there is no shortage of sparkling and fortified wines, such as Port and Madeira.
Wednesday nights are especially devoted to Portuguese wine. It's a Portuguese wine journey, with a tasting menu of six dishes paired with Portuguese wines from various regions. The experience ends with a 10-year-old Malvasia Madeira.
Food at Alfama can be shared. Ordering several dishes and sharing them can be a good idea for diners who want a more complete experience.
After dinner, you can enjoy live music at the Oceano bar, just outside the restaurant.

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