Lisbon – 10/31/15 – Cantinho do Avillez

Ending my weekend of Jose Avillez restaurants was Cantinho do Avillez and not to take anything away from Belcanto but this may have been my favorite.  I can’t recall the name of my first cocktail or the ingredients but it was essentially an adult Orange Julius which remains my favorite part of going to the mall to this day.  The head cheese was hands down my favorite head cheese dish ever.  I wasn’t so sure when I ordered about the mustard and pickles sauce but it was completely fantastic and the most memorable dish of this trip.  And surprisingly the black pork one of the best pork dishes I have had in ages.

Head cheese, mustard and pickles sauce, capers and shredded egg
 Baked ‘Nisa’ cheese with ham and rosemary honey

Alentejo black pork, French fries, coriander and garlic ‘farofa’ with black beans
   Fruit salad with mojito foam  

Lisbon – 10/30/15 – Cais da Pedra and Belcanto

Cais da Pedra
I am certain that I have never even thought about ordering a burger outside of the US because it just screams American tourist.  But when a well known chef opens a well reviewed burger place with a lovely waterfront location that happened to be in the neighborhood I had already found myself in that day, I figured I might as well try it.  Surprisingly this was a very good burger.  It was more well done than I would have preferred but far exceeded my expectations.  I won’t be making this a habit by any means but I would certainly return to Cais da Pedra.

 Seabass tartare with ginger and apple, wasabi avocado cream, frisee salad
 Cais da Pedra burger, “Queijo da Ilha” (typical cheese from the Azores Islands), lettuce, caramelized onion, cherry tomato jam and basil

Next up on the Jose Avillez list was Belcanto, the first Michelin 2 star restaurant in Portugal.  Unfortunately I have no descriptions of the dishes as I assumed I would receive a menu at the end of the meal as the table next to me had.  But mine was evidently forgotten and I did not realize it until I was several blocks away in pouring down rain.  This was an absolutely lovely meal which included some more contemporary takes on classic Portuguese dishes and aside from the missing menu, service was impeccable.  I recognized the chicken skin from Mini Bar although at Belcanto it was a slightly fancier version.  My only small quibble is that I am tired of the el Bulli olives appearing on menus of so many people who have worked there.


Lisbon – 10/29/15 – Henrique Sa Pessoa @ Mercado Da Ribeira, Mini Bar, and Bastardo

Henrique Sa Pessoa @ Mercado Da Ribeira
Da Ribeira is exactly what a food hall should be and puts anything in the US to shame. It is extremely spacious, the seating is plentiful, there is real china, silverware and glassware and the tables are cleared and cleaned for you when you are finished. The food and beverage options are fantastic and each ‘stall’ is a beautiful open kitchen. I decided to go with Henrique Sa Pessoa’s contemporary take on Portuguese cusine. Easily the best meal I have ever had in a food hall and a great start to the trip.
 Saladinha de polvo

Tataki de salmao

Mini Bar
Jose Avillez is perhaps the best known chef in Lisbon and of his restaurants my first stop was at Mini Bar.  The influence of Chef’s brief time at El Bulli was certainly evident and I could have made a meal of the various snacks.  I managed to limit myself to a few but could have easily eaten 20 more of the chicken skins.  Unfortunately I got distracted by work and did not keep track of what my cocktails were but they were lovely nonetheless.

“Roasted chicken” with avocado cream, cottage cheese, piri piri and lemon

Bruschetta with foie gras confit, parmesan, honey drop fig and balsamic

Tuna tartar temaki cone with spicy soy

Vietnamese pork sandwich

In all of my travels I have only had dinner at a restaurant in the hotel where I was staying once (excluding places like the Inn at Little Washington where dining and lodging go hand-in-hand).  It was only by coincidence that I had booked the Internacional Design Hotel and then read a review of its restaurant Bastardo that sounded intriguing.  I loved the colorful and mismatched aesthetic of the dining room (which was perhaps even better at breakfast during daytime hours) and creative touches like the Lego breadbasket and the placemat which read “On this magic placemat calories don’t count.”  After a late dinner it was lovely to just walk up 2 flights of stairs and be in bed.

Rabbit escabeche, red onion, potato and rosemary
Octopus, pork, sweet potato and red pepper