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The colours of Horta

by Paulo Santos



The Horta restaurant wants to make the most of vegetables and take advantage of their flavour and versatility. They are the stars of a restaurant where flavour is the key.


This is a story of colours, even before it involves flavours. These are the colours of the range of vegetables that decorate the Horta restaurant's dishes. They are the first step in a story of seduction.


Then there's the flavour, which is complex due not only to the variety of vegetables used, but also because of how they are cooked. This is a well-kept secret, but one revealed by Chef Santiago Anolles as involving techniques used for meat or fish, such as smoking or cooking in salt. All to get the maximum flavour out of them.

The Horta is one way the PortoBay is investing in sustainable cuisine. It is also a tribute to the PortoBay vegetable garden, where most of the vegetables we eat come from and which, for this very reason, vary greatly throughout the year, depending on the season and what the soil provides. Around 60 to 70 per cent of the menu is vegetables. Some dishes are entirely vegetables or cereals, and there are also gluten-free options.

Santiago Anolles is Uruguayan, a self-taught cook who lived in Brazil for a year and then moved to Madrid, where he was assistant chef at El Invernadero, which has one Michelin Star and one Green Star. Throughout his career in the kitchen, he has specialised in vegetables. He is inspired by Asian and South American fusion food and believes that "vegetables have a very strong potential", although "many people only consider them a decoration".


At the Horta it’s not like that. Everything is used in the name of sustainability, even the vegetable peelings and eyes, which are normally considered waste. Here they are used for sauces and gravies, which are made every day.


But the Horta is not a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, although it does serve vegetarian and vegan dishes. The menu also includes meat, fish and seafood (the scallop starter is simply delicious). It is just that all the dishes are accompanied by vegetables. And those vegetables vary greatly. It's comfort food, oriented towards flavour and freshness, the chef reveals.

This restaurant is next door to Il Basílico, the successful PortoBay brand. It shares the central bar, where cocktails are prepared and there is also a suggestion of the day. It faces the Lido gardens, right on Funchal's seafront promenade.

The Horta offers the traditional soft, timeless tones of PortoBay hotels, to which warm, welcoming lighting has been added. The furniture is made of wood and the whole restaurant is very organic, full of textures. The décor is by interior designer Catarina Cabral.


There is also a large terrace, surrounded by greenery, which guarantees customers some privacy, without depriving them of access to and views of the gardens.


When choosing from the menu, versatility is the key. A mixed menu is possible, with vegetable dishes and meat or fish. Hummus with roasted peppers and carrots from the vegetable garden, aubergine with Lebanese couscous, gazpacho or salads are among the options, and there is no shortage of Madeira scabbardfish or the fish of the day (amberjack, wrasse, gilthead bream, etc). As for meat, you can opt for a veal shank, a sirloin steak or chicken, for example.


The Josper grill comes into play in all of this: a closed charcoal oven that keeps the food succulent. Another contribution to an experience full of flavour.

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