In the last decade, the Algarve of Portugal has built a solid reputation as a destination for “haute cuisine.” In fact, this southern region has more Michelin stars than other parts of Portugal, including Lisbon and Porto. Certainly, a major influence in this recognition is the emergence of Executive Chef Hans Neuner at Ocean Restaurant at VILA VITA PARC Resort & Spa resort. With exquisite cooking, outstanding service and an opulent setting, Ocean is an essential experience for “aficionados” of fine dining.
Upon entering Ocean, it’s at once easy to see how the restaurant came about its name. Large picture windows along the south wall provide unobstructed views of the vast blue Atlantic. This breath-taking and romantic backdrop is accentuated by use of elegant white drapes, table cloths and carpeting, creating an ethereal and sophisticated ambiance. Whether dining inside, or on the outside terrace, the ocean plays a significant role in this gastronomic experience.
At the helm is Austria native Neuner who quite literally grew up in a kitchen. Both his father and grandfather were cooks. Yet, much of Neuner’s professional training came under the guidance of Karlheinz Hauser, during his nine years at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin. He honed his culinary skills further at Tristan Restaurant (two Michelin stars) in Mallorca, Spain and Seven Seas (one Michelin star) in Hamburg.
In 2007, VILA VITA Parc invited Neuner to head up the kitchen at Ocean. He was given carte blanche to build and lead a team toward his aspiration of winning his own Michelin star. Just two short years later, the dream was realized. A Michelin star was awarded to Ocean in 2009, based on Neuner’s technical precision, keen sense for creativity, and passion for using only locally-sourced and fresh products.
Always innovating and persistently improving, Neuner and his team were awarded a second Michelin star in 2011. Further accolades include earning two stars in the “Red Guide” of Portugal and being named Portugal’s Chef of the Year in 2009 and 2012.
In this region of Portugal, Neuner has a cornucopia of ingredients as inspiration for his signature cuisine. Fresh fish and seafood from along the Algarve coast are selected daily. Fresh herbs and local products from the hillsides and valleys are abundant. And also, Ocean takes advantage of the relationship with its sister resort Herdade dos Grous in the Alentejo. Not only does this estate produce organic fruit and vegetables, but also high-quality olive oil, certified meats and award-winning wine.
A hint of the flavors and styles in the haute cuisine of Ocean can be gleaned from these “Culinary Moments” from the current seasonal menu:
■ Langoustine | Sot L’y Laisee | Lemon Geranium | Granny Smith | Green Almond
■ Atlantic Turbot | Ceps | Quail Egg Yolk | Pata Negra
■ Sagres Sardine | Pear | Vinegar Onion | Potato Layer | Young organic Vegetables
■ Red Mullet | Clams Fond | Mountain Bell Pepper | Baby Calamari | Basil
■ Mirandesa Veal | Forest Mushrooms | Young Garlic | Lemon Confit
■ Limousin Lamb | Tomato 2013 | Olive | Regional Bread
■ Apricot | Cream Cheese | Pennyroyal | Poppy-Seeds
(Diners can choose three, five or seven of the above courses for €95, €145, and €185, respectively.)
For more information, visit the Ocean page of the VILA VITA Parc website.
VILA VITA Parc
Rua Anneliese Pohl
Phone: + 351 282 310 100
Fax: +351 282 320 333
Hours: Thursday to Monday – 19:00 to 23:00
■ Reservations Strongly Recommended
■ Dress Code – Elegant Eveningwear
■ Children – 12 Years and Older