We are loving Lisbon...the city is full of contrasts, style, sophisticated taste and is a chef-inspired town!
Today we eased into the day, catching up with a bit of work, and had a lovely (and light!) breakfast at the H10. I love just heading out the door with some semblance of a plan, but ready to see what the day may present for us. We turned left, and found ourselves on Avenue Liberdade...a wide and busy road with a beautiful tree-filled boulevard in the middle and blocks of fine shopping on either side. We eventually stopped at a hot dog kiosk (with wrought iron seats and tables under a shady tree) for a "snack"....what we would recognize as a great hotdog with trimming, plus "potato straws" and shredded cheese.
We ended up in the neighborhood of Chiado, and spent most of the day there exploring....coffee, people watching, bookstores, a wonderful store called Vida de Portuguese full of traditional gifts and housewares, a gelato stop at Amorino (highly recommend it if you come this way!) and then a Tuk Tuk (a compact, open, 3 wheeled vehicle) took us on an exciting ride back to the hotel. We needed time to rest up a bit as Julian made reservations at a restaurant, MiniBar, recommended by friends Nancy and Dennis (or so we thought).
We took a taxi to the expected restaurant, but were told there was no reservation for us. After a bit of figuring, it became clear that our reservation was at another restaurant of the same chef, Jose Avillez. The hostess smiled broadly and just said, "Oh Beco! you'll have fun!". Hmm....ok. It was only 3 blocks away and we got there in plenty of time, entering a huge building with 3 different restaurants. We walked through each, and heard the same words, "Oh Beco! Keep going....you'll have fun!". Now we were feeling a little...well, a combination of great curiosity tinged with anxiety. It was all so hush hush....and slightly scary. Suddenly a tall top hatted man with a dark beard approached us and told us to come with him, secretly handing over a "ticket" to enter wherever we were going. We bravely followed him to a secret door (no, really...a secret door) and suddenly entered what looked like a cellar, the whole theme being a cabaret in the 40's. Twelve tables, a small stage, tiny side alcoves, candles, arched stone ceiling...it was cozy and beautiful, and now our biggest worry was that we'd be called up to the stage to participate in some musical or magical act! But then the talent began...good grief! The bearded greeter was the MC who also had a wonderful voice, three young lovelies were the main singers and the evening was filled with talent, fun and theater.
We relaxed! And then the small plates started arriving. I don't know how to describe how each bite--they were all extraordinary, delicious and every one a surprise. The first selection was some kind of juicy olive with a dark chocolate center, another was chopped ahi tuna in a small cone, an egg dish covered with silver gilt, dessert was white and dark chocolate chess pieces on a small chess board. Half way through the night a roving magician came to our table and stunned us with a couple of card tricks and a mind reading experience. The creativity and thoughtful attention to every detail in this concept restaurant was over the top and we loved every minute of it. A simple error on a website gave us a night to remember!!!