Posts Tagged ‘Lisbon restaurant’

13th February
2010
written by spd
Steaming Cataplana is served table-side at Martinho da Arcada (img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

Steaming Cataplana is served table-side at Martinho da Arcada (img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

Determined to uncover more of Portuguese seafood than salt cod and sardines, David and I sat down to lunch at Baixa fixture Martinho da Arcada. Once a haunt of poet Fernando Pessoa, they are known for their Cataplana, a seafood stew from the Algarve region that is similar to bouillabaisse in France. The waiters scurried around us in white jackets and brought our starters of cabbage soup (another Portuguese staple) and asparagus, because I was feeling starved for greens. Sadly, when the asparagus dish came, it was pickled white asparagus that tasted only of vinegar, but the folly was forgotten when the Cataplana came!  Named for the clam-like copper shell that it’s cooked in, the instrument was unclamped at our table and the stew was served table-side. Steaming inside were sea bass, salmon, prawns, lobster, clams, mussels… we eventually stopped counting! After soaking up some of the flavorful broth with our bread, it was easy to see why Pessoa would loiter here…

Martinho da Arcada, Rua da Prata, 2-8 1100 – 419 LISBOA, ph. 218879259

7th February
2010
written by spd
The chic dining room at Eleven can be deceiving.  (img: Eleven)

The chic dining room at Eleven can be deceiving. (img: Eleven)

Lisbon gifted us an impressive array of culinary treasures, but Eleven was not one of them.  Every food find that I write about here is, theoretically, in the three to five star category.  However, I’ll make an exception to put of the red flag for unsuspecting visitors entertaining a meal here.

Eleven gives a nice first impression, with its sleek dining room overlooking the Park Eduardo. Until Tavares Rico stepped up its game and earned the recognition of Michelin tasters, Eleven was the sole restaurant in lisbon to boast such an honor. Indeed, this is just what the eleven partners were aiming for; Chef Joachim Koerper’s resume boasts Girasol in Alicante (two Michelin stars), L’Ambroisie in Paris (three Michelin stars), Moulin de Mougins (three Michelin stars), Guy Savoy in Paris (two Michelin stars), Hostelerie du Cerf in Marlenheim (two Michelin stars), and Au Chapon Fin in Thoissey (two Michelin stars). So I ask you, WHAT HAPPENED?

When we were seated, we were hounded by the juvenile sommelier several times before we ever saw our waiter. The 15 minute mark hit, and we still didn’t have menus, though we were expected to order wine blindly. When the waiter finally arrived, I found his hurried attempt to get us to order the truffle or lobster menu annoying. We decided on the menu digestion, and prepared to restart our engines when the food arrived. A pricy but well deserved feast was coming our way after so many anniversaries apart this year!

The 12 courses rolled out at a strange pace, and each was so heavy I found myself dreading the next. The only dish with any brightness or acid in it was a Seared Scallop with Curry Foam over a Lemon Risotto.  It was lovely, but even so, the garnishes were very bizarre. The centerpiece of another dish was a beautifully cooked fillet of John Dory slathered in a heavy, nondescript sauce.   Scattered around the dish were beautiful, pillowy chestnut gnocchi, so I was still slightly intrigued.  However, the meat course says it all; David and I ordered the Lamb and the Duck, respectively, and both came out over potatoes and overcooked vegetables with the exact same indecipherable brown sauce. With endless possibilities waiting to be unearthed in the food world, a Michelin-starred chef phones in the meat course?   I don’t buy it.  And that’s how I came to the conclusion that Chef Koerper has been in absentia for quite some time, leaving the kitchen in the hands of a novice chef de cuisine. It doesn’t help that the sommelier was out of his mind.  Not only did both of our wines taste like someone had poured sugar in them, the champagne he doused our intermezzo sorbet with made the concoction taste like glass cleaner.

At well over 100 Euros per person, it’s upsetting admit that the dishes were so forgettable, I can only vividly remember elements of three. While the dinner ended with some lovely confections courtesy of a very capable pastry chef, it didn’t rectify my opinion. As far as dollar value for quality is concerned, it was the most disappointing meal of my adult life.

Phew, now that that’s over, I can get back to relaying all of Lisbon’s incredible eats! Meals that cost (quite literally) a tenth of our dinner at Eleven and lingered in our minds for days afterwards!

Restaurant Eleven. Av. Marquês da Fronteira Jardim Amália Rodrigues, 1070 Lisboa, Portugal. ph 213 862 211

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