The Baixa (central downtown) area of Lisbon is a grid-patterned flat strip that runs up the middle of the city, laid out in a very organized fashion after the 1755 earthquake that levelled most of the city. I’d argue that it’s also the most touristy part of Lisbon, and it’s pretty hard to find a restaurant that isn’t a tourist spot- you know, with guys standing outside trying to usher you in, presenting menus written in seven different languages. In the Baixa, you’re more likely to get higher prices for lower quality food.
In the middle of all this tourist madness is a newly opened café that feels like it fits better in the Parkdale area of Toronto, specializing in brunch food with a slightly hipster-ish vibe, and a beautifully designed space. Nicolau Lisboa would definitely be one of those brunch spots in Toronto that has massive lineups and is in every local food publication and on every blogger’s Instagram page.
The menu is packed with various salad options, eggs, toast dishes, and this being lisbon, coffees and wines.
Susete and I stopped in for lunch, and just as promised, there was a lineup to get in, as it’s quickly become one of the hotspots in central Lisbon. We had a couple coffees (meia da leite aka latté) a dish of avocado on toast with a poached egg and red beet purée, and a plate of scrambled eggs with mushrooms and Parmesan, served with toast.
There’s a few foods that I’m always a little hesitant about ordering at restaurants, and eggs is one of them. More often than not, eggs are over-cooked at most places, and I just don’t like eggs enough to eat rubbery ones. The food at Nicolau was done well and we enjoyed eating it, however, this new café’s real strength lies in its presentation. Not necessarily the plating, I mean the overall presentation of the restaurant, in consistency with their concept. The dishes, cups and bowls they use are all cute and colourful, and the decor is spot on.
They’ve created an atmosphere that makes it a cool place to be, and provides lots of opportunities for Instagram-worthy photos – as many customers were doing exactly that. One girl at the table next to us even came out from the restaurant saying to her friend, “You HAVE to see the washroom, it’s beautiful!”
It’s refreshing to see a local-friendly restaurant sitting right in the heart of the city, giving us a break from the overpriced tourist spots, and Nicolau is destined to remain as a go-to for both Lisboetas and visitors for some years to come.