When I first heard about this restaurant, I booked a table immediately. If you don’t know where to look, you may walk right past Santa Clara dos Cogumelos, which is located just down the road from the São Vicente de Fora Monastery… which you can’t and shouldn’t miss. For those of you whose native language isn’t Portuguese, the name literally translates to “Saint Claire of the Mushrooms”. Why? Because every single dish here contains mushrooms.
That’s right: starters, mains and desserts all contain mushrooms. Because I love mushrooms, the prospect of a mushroom-heavy meal was incredibly exciting. My family and friends who came along were equally intrigued by the concept. For starters, we shared some mushroom croquetes and mushroom ceviche. For my main, I had a pumpkin gnocchi (pumpkin gnocchi, mushrooms, sheep’s cheese, sage sauce with grated smoked sheep’s cheese), which was creamy and packed with flavor. The rest of the party had the Santa Clara risotto, a special of the day which was a mushroom cordon bleu, the tagliata and the porco preto desnorteado (Iberian black pork, mushrooms, potato rosti and fruit mustard).
The single exception to the mushroom rule is one of the desserts, known as the “anti-fundamentalist” – no mushrooms in this one. As much as I had wanted to try to the mushroom desserts, I was far too full. But I will certainly go back because the dessert list include a creme brulee with mushrooms and liquorice; mushroom ice cream; and plums in syrup with mushroom ice cream and almond biscuits. Drooling yet?
A heads up: don’t expect to drink any soda at Santa Clara dos Cogumelos: your options here are water, beer, wine and sangria, home-made lemonade and various home-made ice teas (think hibiscus, lemon or jasmine).
Do you love mushrooms as much as I do? Get your mouths and stomachs over to Santa Clara dos Cogumelos and tell me what your favorite dish was!