A morning coffee and natas, and a walk down to the water along the Praça do Commercio… the sun is bright and lights up the iconic yellow buildings of Lisbon’s centre. The Arco do Rua Augusta dominates the scene, welcoming all visitors to enter the city. Phil and I just sit there on the edge of the wall, which used to be the busiest port in Europe, as it became the centre of the international spice trade, turning Lisbon into Europe’s first true cosmopolitan city. It’s relaxing, sitting here, just imagining what used to be here, all the hustle and bustle as the ships pulled into port and unloaded their goods. The wonders from around the world, the innovation that took place.
At this point in our trip, we’ve explored so much, we don’t have anything particular to do except for eating! I mean, that’s the main reason for the trip anyways, right? Eat, and eat some more. That’s all we have left to do now here, until Phil leaves on Tuesday evening. We’re only half way through Phil’s Lisbon chapter, and we still have a couple days to go. Time to go eat.
We’ve eaten a hell of a lot of meat since we’ve been here. It’s time to really dig into some serious seafood… and for that, there’s one place we need to go. The king of seafood in Lisbon – Cervejaria Ramiro. We had a really late night last night, and drank a lot, so we’re starting off today late, and just taking it easy this morning… that is, until lunch. We walk up up Rua da Palma, past Praça Martim Muniz, until we see the line-up. Yeah…. the place has just barely opened for the day, and there’s already a line-up. Crap. I hate line-ups. We get in line anyway. Everyone’s said this place is legendary when it comes to seafood. Hell, even Anthony Bourdain came here to eat, and said it was gold. We gotta do it, line-up or no. Luckily, we get in within 20 minutes. It’s chaos in there. Total madness. People packed in, waiters running around like wild men. Shellfish and crustaceans flying all over the place. We didn’t even get a real menu, we just ordered some stuff by weight. Two large, immaculately fresh langoustine’s (still alive), a plate of a half pound of prawns, a plate of Ameijoas a bulhão path (clams in olive oil and garlic). Ramiro is the epitome of allowing good ingredients to speak for themselves. They basically do nothing but boil or grill the food, and the natural flavours come out so nicely. It’s just pure, unaltered seafood goodness. You should see these guys fly around that room, around customers, around each other. It’s chaotic, yes, but it’s organized chaos. These guys are simply amazing. They’re pros. Real pros. This meal more than satisfied our seafood fix, that we needed so badly. Of course, after last night we probably didn’t need the beer that we had with lunch. hahaha. Lunch is over… or is it? The legend at Ramiro gets topped off with dessert. Yeah… dessert. A prego. Steak sandwich. It’s a Lisbon tradition. I don’t know why, but it is. A steak sandwich after a big seafood lunch. What a weird combo that is, but it’s one of those things that’s just so wrong that it’s right.
After lunch we needed a rest again… still recovering from the night before, as well as to catch up on the blogs. We had another epic dinner to look forward to, so we’d better rest up. Dinner tonight is going back to the top… José Avillez
Chiado is probably home to the highest number of great restaurants and Lisbon. Together with Bairro Alto, I’d say about 75% of the best restaurants are on this side of town. Cantinho do Avillez is where we’ll be tonight… the first time I came here, it was just so amazing, I had to bring Phil here. This is one place I don’t mind coming back 2 or 3 times, because menu-wise, it’s probably closest of the lot, to what I’d like to do. It’s good research 🙂 It’s easy. Bifé a Portuguesa (steak, done with presunto ham on top, and a side of crisp fried potatoes), Seared scallops with asparagus and sweet potato, peixinhos da horta (oh, how I love these so much!). The food is amazing as expected. It falls into the running theme that we seem to be finding here in Portugal. It’s all so simple, not a lot of fuss, but it’s just done so well, and with so much care. Flawless. Now, Cantinho is one of the few places where dessert is something we REALLY look forward to, not just something we maybe have at the end of the meal. The Avelã (hazelnut dessert) and the cheesecake in a jar, are just so magical, there are really no words to describe them. At least, not at this moment, since I’m still just basking in their glory. I think we just might come back here one more time before Phil leaves. Crazy. Who gives a shit. It’s damn good food.