Any visitor to Lisbon should head straight to the capital’s new culinary hotspot housed in Palácio Chiado. Not only did I enjoy the food enormously the other week, I also found the history of the place fascinating.
Built in the 18th century as Quintela Palace, it was here that the 1st Count of Farrobo was born in 1801. He became an important figure in Portuguese culture and politics but managed to find time for pleasure as well, giving birth to the colloquial expression farrobodó, meaning “to party wildly”. And another phrase can be traced back to these walls, when, during the time of the French invasion, General Junot made his headquarters here. While the French troops rampaged through the city, Junot held lavish soirée after lavish soiréeat Quintela Palace, hence the phrase à grande e à francesa – “in great style”.
And it is with the idea of great style that Palácio Chiado has been opened. Careful restoration has brought back the ceiling frescoes, gilding and stuccowork in the impressive series of rooms, and the stained glass in the stairwell. A total of seven eateries can be found within and you are handed an electronic card at the door that you can use to charge things to as you move from bar to burger – or from a bowl of prawns with roasted cashews down a slippery slope to a peanut butter cheesecake. The only restaurant proper, which takes reservations, is Sushic (second picture).
Having had an excellent lunch at the first Sushic restaurant across the wide Tagus River in Almada, I was keen to try this new palatial outpost. Inspired by his travels, owner Hugo Ribeiro brings Asian influences to the menu; some dishes, such as the scallops with purée of cauliflower (€12, first picture), combine Portuguese ingredients with Asian technique, and vice versa. The famous tom yum soup (€16.50) is given a lobster twist by Portuguese chef Miguel Laffan, and I would strongly recommend you start with this. I then had horse mackerel (a very typical local fish that you can see often drying along the coast above Lisbon) tempura with Vicentine Coast fish mousse (€12), and a selection of excellent sushi (from €4.50), before finishing with a melt-in-the-mouth gunkan of kobe beef (€11), topped with a slice of foie gras and plum jam made from one of the famous plums (which are actually greengages) from Elvas.
I can’t report on puddings as I never manage to leave room for them but you might be more sensible – and this, definitely, is a place to linger longer.