Funchal in Madeira is one of my favourite cities and Quinta da Casa Branca has one of my favourite restaurants. That is surely a recipe for delicious contentment and a very happy reviewer.
I have not actually stayed at Quinta da Casa Branca but dream of doing so. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful hotels in Funchal and boasts a history as well as contemporary amenity.
The Casa Branca story begins in the mid-19th century when the British family of the present owners, the Leacock family, planted vines and banana trees (a lucrative crop) on an estate of some 6 hectares. They were initiators of the Madeira wine trade with England and one of the largest producers of this wine until 1925. The name of Leacock remains: it is still one of the Madeira Wine brands.
The first building was opened in 1998. In 2002, new rooms were built. The hotel comprises both modern architecture and a traditional and stunning Manor House. We arrived after dark and wandered through charmingly lit gardens. The air was cool with trees silhouetted against the historic walls. All rather romantic as was the entrance to the Manor House.
This is a grand structure with almost medieval notes. Its solid with lines softened by sumptuous drapes and furnishings. A bright and comfortable lounge area tempts diners with perhaps a pre-dinner drink. A cosy spot in which hotel guests might snuggle with a good book.
This houses a dining room of perfect proportions, with classic good taste, calming and accessible ambiance. A fine dining restaurant yet accessible. Tables are well-spaced, and service is seamless, professional and friendly. Yes, it is wonderfully traditional but not at all stuffy. It is a confident restaurant with food to match elevated expectations of this polished restaurant.
Our meal didn’t disappoint, and I was so pleased. By the time we sat down I had already fallen in love with Quinta da Casa Branca. I was willing the food to match the quality of all the other attractive elements here. It did!
A nod to the ocean
We enjoyed starters of baked scallops with asparagus and brown crab and prawn salad. Both dishes offered sea-fresh flavours and were delightfully presented. Our main courses also gave a nod to the ocean surrounding the island. I ordered the local scabbard fish which is an ugly beast but a gastronomic delight. My guest was tempted by sea bream which he pronounced as sweet and delicate illustrating the skill of a talented chef.
Passion for local ingredients and attention to detail is evident at the dining room of Quinta da Casa Branca. Nothing was over fussy of challenging, but every plate was correct in every regard. There can surely be no finer accolade for this superb restaurant.
Open daily from 19h00 to 22h30
Quinta da Casa Branca
Rua da Casa Branca 7
Phone: 291 700 700