In 1947 a small restaurant was born in a hut. This restaurant will become an emblematic space where celebrities are constant. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Sharon Stone were just a few of the many celebrities who passed through Porto de Santa Maria. Clinton told the New York Times that the specialty “salted fish” was “the best fish he ever ate” and signed the restaurant guest book to show his appreciation. But, until reaching this recognition, it was a simple hut, which will become a “palace”.
The restaurant, which got his name from a Spanish fishing area, got its first remodeling in 1980, but it was only in 1992 that the real transformation occurred. During this remodeling, an entire floor was added where the historic wine cellar and ponds will be located. The last modernization, made in 2019, had an investment of 1.5 million euros. The decor is irreproachable because it is inspired by the color of the surrounding fauna, sand and rocks. It looks like a living picture, superbly framed by the sea.
Henrique Fernandes, managing partner of the space, says that “after the 1992 transformation, they earn a Michelin star and kept it for many years, until 2007.” However, “it is a democratized space where you can even be in beach shorts.”
1. The Wine Cellar as a Cultural Expression
In the past, the Port of Santa Maria made some exhibitions of paintings from local painters, but it was in the wine cellar that its cultural expression was found. In this emblematic space with 600 m2, secrets full of history are kept: white wines, rosés, spirits and champagnes, two separate room areas and one with 10 private wine cellars. Port wine occupies a special place here, with 7 to 8 thousand bottles, the oldest is from 1930. “Here, among the biggest port wine brands, we have wines that they don’t even have”, says Henrique with pride.
He also states that together with some producers they renewed bottles from 1950 and 1970, changing the cork and the seal. In the lounge, with a panoramic window to the seafood ponds, wine tasting takes place. During these tastings, some stories are told about grape varieties, vineyards and the culture that surrounds that wine. Often these events end with a dinner with the participants. The wine cellar is also very requested for presentations of several types of wines.
In this place with history, business is done at the table and even marriage proposals happen here. The wine cellar can be rented for lunch or dinner as long as you request a week in advance. According to Henrique Fernandes, “the best route through the restaurant, should begin by choosing the wine in the cellar and then the seafood”.
The Port of Santa Maria is proud to have the same employees for the last 30 years and to face the pandemic by reducing the available seats to half, having digital menus and now betting on a special program for the national costumers. Be sure to visit.
2. Five Senses: A sensory appeal
When he was a child, Diogo Simões dreamed of being a footballer player. Played for several years at Estoril club where he proudly wore the number 5, even today his lucky number. However, at 29 he thought that his career as a footballer had no future and because his father had a restaurant for 40 years, he decided to follow his footsteps.
It was in 2005 that he opened Café 5, of course! The number continued to pursue him as a lucky formula, and that’s how he started a new life path that would surprise him.
3. An event that changes the course of history
On New Year’s Eve 2007, something unpredictable happened and changed his life forever. A disagreement with his Chef left him alone at the most important time of the year. Without hesitating, he devoted himself to work and to the art of cooking, he was self-taught. “I just wanted to learn more and more”. He also says with a smile, that at that time, when he went for a coffee, his wife took the newspaper and he brought cookbooks.
Perfectionist and devoted, it was his taste and dedication that quickly transformed the 5 into a success. Later, in 2009, an opportunity arises to acquire a club in the center of Cascais.
It was a kind of an elitist club, frequented by aristocrats who smoked pipes and talked about trivialities of the time. There were poetry gatherings by a group that continued their hobby in the space already renovated by Diogo Simões, who carried the “5” of his heart to the new concept. He called the new space “5 Senses”. The idea was to awaken them and that’s what he has been doing since then.
4. The focus on local artists
With a good diversity of special dishes, it appeals to the sensorial through the paintings exhibit in the restaurant, painted by local artists, who take the opportunity to publicize their works and turn them to life. Diogo renews this works every month and a half, to give opportunities to new artists. Rogério Tunes, Maria Godinho, and Carlos Teixeira, who paints Cascais landscapes and electrics, are some of the artists chosen by the owner to appear on the walls of 5 Sentidos.
He stimulates the palate through the dishes that cooks with love, dishes that spread a distinctive scent. He says he wanted to universalize the space and maintain the family atmosphere he always preferred. Due to the success of his restaurant, three years ago he managed to open the “5 Senses” at Carvalhal, Comporta, which has also become a success.
Since the arrival of the pandemic he has sought Portuguese customers. Reflecting on solutions, Diogo thinks about a parallel business: a virtual takeaway restaurant. There are dishes not suitable, but he believes in this idea. In any of these very different spaces, united by culture, it’s worth coming to dinner and breathe art.