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Michelin recognition for the region

In case you needed any more excuses to come and stay with us, the most recent Michelin restaurant guide - and the first in which Portugal has received its own guide, having previously been lumped in with Spain - offers a few more. As well as Santarém (the capital city of our district) receiving the first Michelin star in the region for 20 years, some of our favourite restaurants here have either retained or gained recognition also.

The star was awarded to Rodrigo Castelo, chef of 'Ó Balcão', a restaurant in Santarem city situated on the site of a traditional old tavern. We visited ourselves a few years ago and we were impressed with the creativity, style and level of service. There is a focus on fish from the nearby river Tejo, and highlights for us included a ceviche of river fish, and also a gratin of oxtail. Ó Balcão was also awarded a green star for sustainability, one of only five restaurants in Portugal to receive the award. Santarém is around an hour away from the windmill, but is on the way from Lisbon, whether you are coming by car or train, so is a great option for lunch on the way to us from the airport.

We were also pleased to see that two of our regular favourite restaurants in Abrantes (around 25 mins drive from us) gained recognition also - 'Casa Chef Victor Felisberto' has held the Bib Gourmand (for quality cooking at a reasonable price) award for 5 years now, and 'A Velha' - a relatively recent opening, featuring a menu designed by Rodrigo Castelo of 'Ó Balcão', joins the guide as a selected restaurant.

Outside the region, but still within an hour's drive of the mill, two Alentejo restaurants familiar to us have also been selected for the guide - 'Solar do Forcado' in Portalegre, and 'Fago', opened recently in Marvão by our friends Daniel and Diogo, and very deserving of the attention it has been receiving.


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