With over 1,000 restaurants in Madeira’s capital city Funchal you will definitely be spoilt for choice; from modern and sophisticated eateries offering international cuisine, to locally-sourced fresh seafood, meat and seasonal produce served up in traditional tavernas, whatever your craving you will find it when visiting this culinary city.
We recommend reading TripAdvisor for the latest Madeira reviews, openings and closures, and don’t forget to take advantage of your hotel concierge’s local knowledge, but we wanted to jot down a couple of places in Madeira that really impressed us during our stay.
Nini Andrade Silva, acclaimed interior designer and artist, opened a design centre in 2015 showcasing exhibitions of her work, a store, cafeteria and restaurant. A native, we kept reading great reviews about her restaurant but just couldn’t get our head around the centre concept, so we booked, not expecting great things.
Oddly built on top of what seems like a large rock in the port, the centre offers spectacular views of the city and harbour (the ideal spot to watch the sunset). Upon entering the 1st floor restaurant via a lift we immediately fell in love with the modern decor…the restaurant has a relaxed yet sophisticated vibe.
With a choice of a la carte or set ‘sensation’ menus, we opted for the 3 courses with premium pairing wines for an very reasonable €80 per person.
Both the Foie Gras with Madeira wine jelly and banana chutney and the scallops with leek, cuttlefish and carrot starters were divine.
For mains, the tuna tataki with Jerusalem artichoke, leek and aioli and the herb crusted lamb with vegetables melted in our mouths, Michelin quality.
The “ramekin” of chocolate and salty caramel cheesecake desserts, plus a passionfruit sorbet palate cleanser, ended what could only be described as one of the best meals we have eaten, rivalling offerings from the likes of Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon, to name a few.
Each course not only looked visually enticing, the flavours and quality of each dish surpassed our expectations. The mix of sparkling, white, red and dessert wines in the pairing menu perfectly balanced each course and we never had an empty glass. The sommelier provided a fantastic selection of local and international beverages served up with a short provenance on each.
Put all that together in one restaurant and you have near perfection and we’d be tempted to book another trip to Madeira just to be able to dine at Nini Andrade Silva Design Center one more time. Faultless.
Located at The Cliff Bay Hotel on the headlands outside of Funchal, Avista is another fantastic Madeira restaurant, perfect for alfresco dining with sweeping views of the ocean, and an idyllic spot for a sundowner cocktail, or two.
With a resort style decor of wicker and comfy cushioned furnishing, a massive fire pit at the centre of the outside seating area, Avista serves up a sharing concept of Mediterranean and Asian cuisines that had the Josper grill menu tantalising our tastebuds.
We kicked off our meal with black garlic and wholegrain mustard suckling pig croquettes and the garlic, chilli and lemon prawns. Both starters full of flavour and very moorish.
The outstanding Josper piri-piri spring chicken main (cooked in a closed grill, at high temperature, giving the food the unique flavour of the embers) was exceptionally succulent and worked perfectly with the slightly smoked mashed potato side.
We loved the relaxed dining experience. Great service and staff, superb food and drinks and of course those cocktails. We were also impressed that the meal (without drinks) came in at around €50 pp. Well worth a visit and a great evening at Avista Restaurant.
We also enjoyed dining at Villa Cipriani Restaurant, again with spectacular ocean views and a traditional Italian inspired menu (part of Reid’s Palace Hotel). Two restaurants to also mention, in Funchal, were Restaurante dos Combatentes offering a selection of local cuisine and wines at great prices, and Portaliano Italian and pizza restaurant.
Local white wine recommendation:
- Pimenta Branca (a light citrus yellow colour with complex pear aromas).
- Encostas do Sobral (fresh and elegant with intense fruit flavours and notes of vanilla).
We stayed at Reid’s Palace hotel.