I'm in Macau for a couple of days attending a conference, and as I have done for the past couple of years, I chose to be antisocial and skipped the first night's dinner. Macau has a wealth of upscale dining options - some of which I would rate above anything else in their respective categories in Hong Kong - so I'd take them over the nice conference food catered by the Four Seasons Resort Macao any day.
I haven't been back to Don Alfonso 1890 in the Grand Lisboa since my first visit a couple of years ago. I've kinda been focusing on my favorite Michelin-starred establishments in the big hotels - sometimes at said hotels' invitation - so I figured it was about time to come back to this underrated gem.
I looked over the menu and found the degustation menu a tad on the boring side. There were a couple of items from the à la carte menu that really caught my attention, however, so I went for those instead.
This was pretty interesting, with a disc of herbed mashed potato sitting at the bottom. On top we have some grilled baby squid, a pan-fried scallop, some sea urchin, a piece of crab meat, and a beautifully grilled Sicilian gambero rosso. All this topped with some herbs and very thin chiffonade of bottarga di muggine from Sardinia.
Oh yeah, I made sure to suck out all the goodies from the head of the gambero rosso. Soooo damn good.
A beautiful pasta, this was. So simple. The scampi was perfectly fresh, with all the natural goodness and those flavors of the sea. Then there were the slices of bottarga di muggine, and crunchy slices of garlic fried in oil. These alone would have delivered enough flavors, but throw in some chili flakes and finely chopped bits of pancetta, and this dish really packed a punch.
But why was the restaurant so empty? OK, so I know it's Monday night and probably the quietest night of the week, but this is a restaurant serving very high quality food, with fresh, imported ingredients. Why aren't there more people coming to appreciate the cuisine? Is it because, unlike many of the other restaurants within the Lisboa hotels (and other casino hotels), the restaurant wasn't awarded any stars by Michelin? The Kitchen next door - whose main draw is steak - has held a star for the last few years. I'd pick Don Alfonso 1890 over the Kitchen any day.