O Paparico

Much has been said and written about O Paparico – it was even elected as Restaurant of the Year in the Flavors & Senses – The best for 2014 awards, a restaurant outside the city’s touristic orbit that became a true success phenomenon among locals and tourists, with an offer of improved tradicional Portuguese cuisine and a service that was the envy of most of the Michelin restaurants.

Well, that same O Paparico has changed! But don’t be scared, it’s not closed, it doesn’t serve burguers, it did not lose quality, on the contrary. It’s giving the quality jump up that was always Sérgio Cambas’ dream, the owner, who with the right maturity, the uprising interest of Porto in the International guides and a better financial leverage, propelled by the success of his most recent bet, the Brasão Cervejaria, decided to change and take this classic of Porto to other flights! 

But what changed? The less attentive ask.

They’re above all positioning changes, a bit like some old family restaurants that pass throughout generations, adapting to times and going from a tradicional cuisine to the haute cuisine, as it happens in France and in our neighbor Spain, where many of the main cooks of the current days molded the traditional restaurants they got from their family.

the classic bar of O Paparico, omce the birth place of the Gin fever in Porto 

Here Sérgio Cambas decided he wasn’t going to wait for the next generation and got to work, took his team out of the comfort zone and challenged them to do more and better, always foccusing in the traditional Portuguese flavors, the room was also pushed to do more and better, only serving tasting menus, betting in the mise en scène and highlighting the wines even more, and above all, he challenged himself, daring to change a success formula.

But lets put the stories aside and on to what really matters here, our experience!

With this new boldness of the Restaurant, we decided to pay a new visit. The concept of closed doors remains, with the ringing at the door bringing an immediate reception, treating us by name (revealing the previous study of the reservations and an attention to detail we rarely see outside the circuits of the greater restaurants), and kindly suggests a drink at the bar while the last details are prepped at the table.  

And so it started our experience at this O Paparico v2.0, with a balmy and romantic consersation, with some crunchy leafs of Rice flour, flavored water with Rosemary and lemon and an excellent sparkling bairradino Wijion 100% Baga, served in a fantastic Riedel glass, highlighting its thin bubble and mousse of great elegance.

Arriving to the room we realize the number of tables was reduced and the same got wider, the ilumination was also very different (ideal to those who insist on photographing food!!!). Already at the table we are welcomed with tradition and some modernity, with the broa de Avintes (corn bread), the homemade bread, an excellent folar transmontano, olives to the style of the capers from Trás-os-Montes, and the mandatory butter, in two versions, goat and goat with seaweed – delicious. 

While the new menu is explained, we understand the main changes, without a menu option, that once had dishes to share, now with only 3 options of degustation menus, 3, 4 and 6 dishes and prices between 65€ and 100€ with proposals of wine harmonizations between 30 and 50€ depending on the menu.

Chicken soup

After choosing and leaving the dishes in the hands of the team (its possible to create our menu with basis on the presents options, 3 starters, 3 fishes and 3 meats), the first amuse bouche arises, a Chicken Soup, reinterpreted with an excellent broth, the rice or pasta gave place to a kind of foam, with the yolk present, who doesn’t remember of fighting for the little eggs of the Chicken Soup… a comforting start, appealing to memory.

 Arouquesa tureen and iberian pork prosciutto 

Followed a classic of the house, the excellent Tureen of Arouquesa Veal with Port Wine, prepared like the Tangerine of Heston Blumenthal, with the texture and flavor well tuned and a Black Pork Prosciutto with crunchy bread, the Spanish way, served alongside a baffling image of the animal! This visual detail certainly causes a lot of discord, some love the idea, some won’t feel comfortable eating while looking at the pig. But if the goal is to cause impact, tension and even a discord conversation, the idea is accomplished.

Harmonizing was a Sousa Lopes Late Harvest 2013 of the caste Petit Manseng, one of the best late harvest in national soil, more precisely Famalicão at Adega Casa da Torre, with an excellent color, floral notes, peach and honey and a long mouth ending, with the sweetness well balanced by its marked acidity. Perfect, either with the tureen and with the proscitutto.

Octopus salad

To finish the snacks – if we can call them that – was a good example of the Portuguese tradition taken to other levels of execution and presentation, without losing the flavor, an apparently simple octopus salad, with the parsley being replaced by an excellent and refreshing emulsion of green sauce, the octopus in thin slices and the onion in a quenelle cut in a brunoise so small it would embarace the people at Le Cordon Bleu. Delicate, simple, tasty and familiar, where not only the technique shines, but also the quality of the product with the superb touch of the vinegar of Quinta das Bágeiras.

In the glass was the light and fresh Sílica white 2013, a versatile wine at the table, with a  citric side that went well with the octopus.

Scarlet Shrimp Feijoada  

A take on the quite traditional seafood feijoada (bean stew), adding the king of shrimps, a high quality bean and more contemporary techniques. Accurate cooking of the scarlet shrimp, in which its precious head gave origin to a kind of powder oil, accompanied by the excellent beans in a combo refreshed by the small details of mint. Would the sauce been a bit more reduced and the dish would have been perfect.

To go with the seafood, the sommelier surprised us with a beer, but not an ordinary one, the artisanal Deus – Brut des Flandres, a complex beer that travels between Belgium, where its produced, and the region of Champagne, where is leavened for the second time and aged according to the region method. A beer with sparkling notes, complex aromas and delicate flavor.

Tabafeira, the chorizo of the resistance

Many times taken as an alheira, the tabafeira was known in Trás os Montes as a chorizo similar to the alheira but produced for immediate consumption, without being smoked. Here is recreated that combination of bread with the fat and meats of rabbit and partridge, with a super thin spinach mash, hydrated mustard, mushroom water and egg gel. Well linked ingredients, with a nice game of textures, but with no flavor of highlight or particular grace. Not being bad, it was the least interesting dish of this long meal.

In the glass was one of the best examples of the Chardonnay caste produced in Portugal, the Quinta do Cidrô 2012 of Real Companhia Velha, slightly more evolved than I expected, but with the right structure, body and complexity for the dish.


Another Portuguese classic recreated in the majority of the national fine dining restaurants, the Caldeirada. The one from O Paparico is made with emperor, bream, surmullet, clams and mussels, all perfectly cooked, with thin slices of potato and an unctuous sauce, full of flavor forwarding us to our flavor memories. The dish is upgraded by the intensified sea flavors given by the seaweed and refreshed by the subtle acidity of an orange gel that accompanied the combo. The moment of the night!

Accompanying was the not least interesting Arinto dos Açores Sur Lies 2014 of António Maçanita, another proof of the great work Maçanita has been doing with the wines of Azores. Don’t confuse the Arinto from Azores with the continental one, this is an autochthonous caste, which location gives it a unique salinity and acidity, with the maturation over the lees bringing more complexity and intensity. A very fresh wine, full of citrus, and a mouth with a good body and greasiness that melted and cleaned very well with the sauce of the caldeirada. A wine I really want to taste with a few years of aging.

Meia unha with chickpeas 

I love all the less noble and gelatinous cuts of pork, so I couldn’t resist asking for this adaptation of the classic. Gelatinous meat, quite tasty, prepared like a tureen, good chorizo and a rich and delicate broth. High score to the quality of the chickpeas presented, very, very good!

The choice to harmonize went to a Loureiro 2009 Royal Palmeira, also kept in contact with the lees, creating an elegant and complex loureiro, still marked by fresh fruit and a smoky side from the good evolution in a bottle.

Goatling with à padeiro vegetables

Family comfort food, where the Sunday roast is king. Here with a deboned goatling of great quality, perfectly cooked, with great texture and succulence, accompanied by nicely worked vegetables and roasted potato, all over a cream made with basis on a goatling offal rice. Grandmas forgive me, but I wish sunday roasts would always be like this!

In the glass was a red from Alentejo, Altas Quintas Reserva 2005, a wine to which the years worked wonders, balancing the alcohol and the wood phase with a superb acidity, dark fruit, balsamic notes, spices and many other things arising as the wine opened in the glass. A great wine that magnified the dish.


The meal was already long and “well watered” when we passed to the dessert field, starting with a beautiful “fake” strawberry as pre-dessert, served with strawberry sobert, lyophilized strawberry, meringue, crumble and sour cream. Excellent plating and flavor.

Chocolate, hazelnut and carob 

When knowing that desserts are many times the Achilles’ heel of restaurants, we are tempted to expect the same, but we were pleasantly surprised. Refined aesthetic sense in a guaranteed combo. Amazing cocoa sorbet, with a good chocolate “bomboca“, and hazelnut with carob cake. A dish with a good game of textures and balanced sweetness.

Harmonizing was a Niepoort Lbv 2007, with the usual profile of the house, drier, more concentrated and with fruit and chocolate notes that worked very well with the dessert.

The Egg

Served in a glass chicken, similar to many of the chocolate ones that appeared in my house by Easter, the Egg! An homage to the traditional portuguese desserts, with a basis of lots of yolks and sugar, with the classic egg threads making a nest, meringues, cinnamon crumble and an egg made like a zabaglione, with liquid nitrogen. Fresh, balanced and well accomplished, a dessert with room to other versions.

Accompanying was a Colheita Dalva de 1985, well agged, with excellent color and honey notes, dry fruits and vanilla that went flawlessly with this eggy dessert.

Toucinho do Céu

And once the diet was already ruined, we still accepted to taste another dessert, the Toucinho do Céu. This time with the toucinho being conceived more to the Spanish style than the Portuguese, with the texture closer to a pudding than our toucinho with almond and chila. Here nicely complemented with minced hazelnuts, lemon sorbet and an hazelnut leaf. It was as delicious as it was sinful!

To close the wine chapter and while the alcohol was already on a high level, a Madeira Ribeiro Real Malvasia 20 anos from Barbeito, another great, great wine, with a beautiful amber color, exotic wood, chocolate and caramel notes, melting with the dessert, and a sweet and soft body with a dry ending, making us want to keep drinking.

Something I hate in fine dining restaurants is the expression “infusion of the chef” that then arrives at the table with a label of some tea brand, many times without interest or quality. At least here the infusion is homemade, with mint and some more details my memory is hiding. Accompanying was a music box, which in any other environment would be excessive and forced, but here, in this room, with this decor and environment, worked as a good safe for the petit fours.

music box, of petit fours

As I was talking , the wine service was flawless from the first to the last second, 1st line glasses, wines served in the right timing and before each dish, well explained, and above all, very well paired with the dishes, always with out of the box options.

A remarkable service merging nicely with the meticulous work the room team executed during dinner, under the thorough baton of Sérgio Cambas.

Final Remarks
It is said that luck protects the daring ones, others will say that the daring write their own luck, certain is that Sérgio Cambas has a few of both expressions and this “new” O Paparico deserves luck to accompany it. From an always safe classic to a fine dining with few comparison in Portugal, for all the experience they offer from the moment you ring at the door to the moment the last light in the room is shut down. About the service there’s not much to say, there are few doing it as well or better in Portugal, as to the cuisine, it’s beautiful to see such a radical change, leaving the comfort zone and of course, the results, because its not enough wanting to do more and better, you have to actualy perform, keeping the standards and improving each detail. We left this experience more than satisfied, with a big menu, in which some dishes were above the others, as expected.

With an experience of this level in this change period, I expect great things to the future of this 2.0 version of O Paparico. Mandatory!

O Paparico 
Rua de Costa Cabral 2343, Porto
+351 225 400 548

Portuguese Version

 Photos: Flavors & Senses 

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