Not only does Loggia restaurant in Coimbra lay claim to magnificent views, it also professes to serve the best sponge cake in the universe! Located within the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro in the city’s hilltop university zone, the glass-fronted restaurant overlooks the dome of Sé Velha, the old cathedral, and the rooftops of the narrow streets that wind downhill towards the Mondego river.
Find out what to see in Coimbra in this post.
Mike and I have been to Loggia a few times during the day for the pleasant lunchtime buffet and for refreshments during museum visits so we happily accepted an invitation to return for the evening experience. By arriving shortly before 8 pm, we were just in time to watch the sunset. The restaurant was already busy with a large party occupying five of the circular tables, their conversation and clinking of cutlery and glasses almost drowning out the mellow jazz playing in the background. We chose a table a the quieter end of the room, joining other couples sitting by the window.
As the helpful black-clad waiter explained the menu options to us, I was pleasantly surprised by both the prices and the dishes on offer. Intrigued by the 8-dish tasting starter, which varies according to the chef’s whims, we opted for the set menu which includes the multi-starter plus a main course and dessert for 20 euros, but not drinks.
The wines, and the olive oil, all come from the same local producer. Most are from the surrounding Bairrada wine region, although they offer a red from the Dão region made from Touriga Nacional grapes and a Vinho Verde (young wine) from the north.
The multiple starters turned out to cover a range of influences and tastes. I tried a bit of everything, including the scrambled egg, the moelas (chicken gizzards in a savoury sauce) and even the tinned mushrooms which are a pet peeve of mine. (I’ll never understand why Portuguese restaurants rarely serve real ones; they’re easy to find and not that expensive. End of rant.) As tinned mushrooms go, I’ll admit they had been made to taste quite nice but I quickly abandoned them in favour of the octopus salad, mussels, onion rings in breadcrumbs and the mini mozzarella balls in tomato sauce. There was so much food we couldn’t possibly have finished it all and still managed a main course.
The main event
Although I’d deliberated over whether or not to go for one of my favourite dishes, polvo à lagareiro (octopus with baked potatoes) or the açorda (bread stew from the Alentejo region) with prawns, I couldn’t resist the roast duck served with green beans and potato wedges. It turned out to be an excellent choice. The only thing that slightly interfered with my enjoyment of it was that the restaurant lighting is so dim, I couldn’t see well enough to cut the meat from the bones so I ended up with some unexpected crunchy bits in my mouth.
And now for dessert
The waiter recommended the leite creme (crème brûlée) and of course, the exalted pão de ló (sponge cake) so we had one of each. Mike let me do the honours and smash the caramel, although it wasn’t quite as satisfying a crunch as I’d hoped for. It was, however, crispy enough in the mouth and combined well with the creamy custard and the coffee ice cream.
Do they serve the best sponge cake in the universe? I’ll have to leave that for you to decide as I’m not a pão de lò expert. All I can say is that it was deliciously soft to the point of being slightly runny in the centre, becoming gradually more solid and a little sticky towards the outside.
Would we go back to Loggia restaurant? Yes, definitely. On the whole, the food is well prepared and lovingly presented, the decor modern and minimalist, the view impressive and the prices reasonable.
Loggia restaurant practicalities
During the day, you can access the café and restaurant by crossing the courtyard that serves as the entrance to the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro. The two main dishes available with the lunch buffet change daily and there’s usually a queue but it moves fairly quickly. Check the menu before joining the line to make sure it’s something worth waiting for.
At night, the museum is closed so you need to use the door on the right hand side of the building, up the steps. You can see the location on Google maps here.Closed on Mondays, and on Tuesday and Sunday evenings when it closes at 6 pm, it’s otherwise open from 10 am until 10.30 pm. For more information and contact details, visit the Loggia website.
Loggia is in Alta Coimbra. Find out more about the different parts of the city and which one would suit you best for accommodation in this article: Where to stay in Coimbra