I have mixed feelings about Michelin-star restaurants. Yes, they can be striking and obviously the food will be memorable, but sometimes they lack soul and continuity. One has the sense that they might be trying too hard to keep that glittering accolade, at the expense of their guests. Il Gallo d’Oro Madeira has changed my mind about the relevance of that aforementioned star, and in very comfortable fashion.
This noteworthy restaurant is found at The Cliff Bay Hotel, one of the most celebrated lodgings on the island. The entrance is through racks of wine, which rather tempts the diner to have a look at the impressive wine list before even a thought of that acclaimed food.
This is a proper restaurant which oozes classic confidence but with no hint of old-fashioned dustiness. It is quite simply correct, welcoming and generous. The tables are well spaced, and the service is impeccable. No, not intimidating as one would suppose in a 2-Michelin-star establishment, just perfectly professional.
Executive Chef at The Cliff Bay
The Executive Chef of Il Gallo d’Oro is Benoît Sinthon. He has a passion for Mediterranean cooking, with a career which has seen him creating dishes in several 1- and 3-star restaurants. In 2004 he was appointed Executive Chef at The Cliff Bay, a member of PortoBay Hotels & Resorts. In 2009 Il Gallo d’Oro was awarded the first Michelin star on Madeira, and it has been awarded anew each year until 2017, the year in which the restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars.
I have only tasted a special Valentine’s Night menu, but I can attest to the delicious and innovative quality, and beautiful and skilful presentation of every dish. There were no out-of-place ingredients; no lavish use of inexplicable foams, no intricate and threatening tableware, and not a hint of smoke. This was just outstanding cooking which didn’t disappoint on any level.
Il Gallo d’Oro in Madeira is a favourite restaurant. Yes, it will certainly appeal to those diners who ‘collect’ Michelin-star restaurants, but it will also be loved by the rest of us who just want to try amazing food without feeling daunted. This restaurant deserves its accolades and should be on any discerning food-lover’s must-do-in-Madeira list.
Dinner: 7pm – 9.30pm
Closed on Sunday
Il Gallo d’Oro
The Cliff Bay Hotel
Estrada Monumental, 147
Phone: +351 291 707 700