Symington Family Estates, the Portuguese company behind several still wine projects and four illustrious Port houses—Dow’s, Graham’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s—has opened a new restaurant, Bomfim 1896 with Pedro Lemos, which promises to become a Douro Valley wine and dining destination.
The restaurant sits atop an old wine cellar at Symington’s Quinta do Bomfim, farmed by five generations of the Symington family and home to Dow’s Port since 1896. Johnny Symington, the company chairman, calls the quinta “the heart and soul of Dow’s Port [that] has long been a family home for us in the Douro.”
With the June 10 opening of Bomfim 1896, the legendary Port family invites diners and wine lovers to experience an authentic, wood-fired taste of the Douro—accompanied, of course, by a generous selection of Portuguese wines, including rare Vintage Ports and single-harvest tawnies [colheitas] straight from the Symington cellars.
The menu, Symington says, is “inspired by the memories and distinct aromas of the old wood-fired oven” at the quinta; all dishes are cooked over wood, with ingredients sourced from the best Portuguese producers to “celebrate the heritage and gastronomy” of the Douro Valley.
According to chef Pedro Lemos, traditional Douro kitchens featured “large chimneys around which meals were served each day … [and] the distinct and unmistakable aromas from the wood-burning stoves” form a central element of the Bomfim 1896 experience. Lemos, who also runs his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in Porto, is no stranger to collaboration with the Symingtons. Bomfim 1896 is a permanent extension of a yearlong pop-up, Casa dos Ecos, which was also located at Quinta do Bomfim.
Diners can begin their meal with cold oxheart tomato soup, grilled violet prawns or a range of other seasonal appetizers. Entrees include suckling lamb, duck with artichokes barigoule and roasted turbot with cassava mash. Bomfim 1896 also offers several vegetarian options—grilled purple artichokes and spiced cauliflower potage are highlights from the opening menu—and desserts include Azores pineapple with coconut and rum cake with cherries.
The wine list highlights Portuguese wines, with a focus on Symington bottlings from the Douro and Alentejo regions. There’s also a spread of wines from other Portuguese producers, a good sampling of Champagne and even some options from beyond Portugal. Sweet wine lovers will cherish the extensive range of rare Ports, especially vintage bottlings, from the family’s cellars. It’s rare to see bottles like Dow 1963 and 1970, Graham 1977, Warre 1960 and many more on a list together, especially when those bottles have perfect provenance.
Both the dining room and terrace offer outstanding vineyard and Douro River views. And in a nod to the old Douro tradition of gathering around the hearth for a meal, the open kitchen invites diners to observe every step of the wood-fired cooking. Bomfim 1896 is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.