103 Rua das Flores, Lisbon 1200-194
A tiny bohemian spot tucked into a little side street in the chic Barrio Alto district. There are no reservations …Rating:
A tiny bohemian spot tucked into a little side street in the chic Barrio Alto district. There are no reservations so it is a little tricky getting a table. They don’t really seem to concerned to seat you in any particular hurry either, so prepare yourself for a bit of a wait, but it is worth it (they know this so that’s why they can do it, and people keep coming so it is likely to continue). The menu is constantly changing and each dish is very unique with a mix of Portuguese ingredients and eclectic foodie flair. This is a refreshing restaurant, particularly for the local foodies, as it takes new concepts and molds it around tradition, and that is not done so often in Lisbon.
The meal starts with slivers of bread served with a cork pot of local flaky sea salt and vibrant grassy olive oil. Stark, clean, and delicious.
I first tried the mackerel tartare, which came perched on top of a “sushi take-out style” seaweed salad. Not what I would consider gourmet (!) but it really works here…neon green and all. Delicate uber fresh salty morsels of raw mackerel blending poetically with the soft sweet flavors of the seaweed salad. A really tasty and unusual tapa for Lisbon.
Next I tasted the monkfish liver, which is very, very difficult to find anywhere besides maybe a Michelin Japanese restaurant in London or New York or Japan itself. I was really impressed with even finding it! I also know how difficult it is to prepare as I had it described to me once by a Japanese friend. The process is long and the recipe seemed quite secret as I was only told small details when I asked her. The liver was beautifully prepared, formed into a neat medallion and sitting on top of some spicy Kim chi radish noodles, which added texture and body. The strong intense flavors of the foi gras-like liver blending in with the fermented spice of the Kim chi was a clever and delicious paring.
I also had the pleasure of trying some baby sardinias, which were fried lightly and served with a simple pickled jalapeno puree sauce. I really loved how they let the baby sardines speak for themselves, noting that they needed nothing but a touch of lime and salt. Apparently they are illegal to sell in Portugal…but their is nothing more delicate, soft, and at the same time, crunchy, than a baby sardinia in Lisbon.
The vibe is hip and low key, with lots of well heeled cool people chatting softly. The room is quaint and tiny, with little tables romantically dressed with old- fashioned trimmings. This place has a very relaxed laid-back quality and is great for a date.
Taberna is a restaurant that oozes cool, eccentricity, and understatement. While in Lisbon, put it on your list.