In the Casal São Simão, a Schist Village with a rich history, there is a hidden secret. A place where traditional tastes merge with modernity, where wood stoves keep the memories of culinary traditions alive in Portugal’s interior.
The restaurant Varanda do Casal is both a restaurant and, literally, the front porch of the town. Its cosy environment, attentive service, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking view make it the best restaurant for miles around. The menu is based on the traditional regional food beloved by the people with the deepest roots in the region, and prepared following traditional methods, using tools such as clay pans, wood stoves, or products from historic eras.
The star of the kitchen is Dona Maria, with a golden touch and more than 40 years of cooking experience, who bakes her wheat and rye bread every day in a wood stove. The menu is limited so that everything can be made “fresh”, including such dishes as Tiborna de Bacalhau (codfish), Borrego dos Casamentos (lamb), Chanfana de Cabra (goat), and Cabrito Assado com Castanhas (grilled baby goat with chestnuts).
The menu changes based on the products that can be found on the market, since most of them are provided by local suppliers, which helps the local economy. In the dining area, the star attraction is the wine cellar, with more than 200 varieties to choose from and thoughtful curating updated every month with the best from the region, including the varieties of Beira, Bairrada, and Dão.
Easily accessible (only 30 minutes from Coimbra, 1:30 from Lisbon, and 1:30 from Porto), and right next to Fragas de São Simão, a geological landmark with unparalleled beauty, Varanda do Casal is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Schist Villages.