This was my first time in Lisbon and after a long flight and a sight seeing stroll through a beautiful city, some friends and I headed to Largo. We got there at 6pm but unfortunately the restaurant was closed – opening time is 7:30. And that’s when we met out waiter for the evening. He opened the door, sat us in the lounge of the beautiful restaurant and handed us a Gin and Tonic menu. Now I don’t usually drink Gin and Tonics (reminds me of my days in prep school with a gin soaked math teacher), but they have come a long way since then. Norwegian gin infused with cardamom, tonic water, lime soda and kumquat. Wow, Mr. Davidson from Upper 6S Mathematics would be so proud.
Gin invokes great conversations and we polished off the bar nuts when all of a sudden our most attentive waiter of a closed restaurant placed in front of us a plate of Chèvre cheese parcels in phyllo pastry drizzled with honey – simply saying “you guys look hungry!” Is this guy for real? Or is it that the beautiful restaurant with vaulted ceilings was once part of an abbey? Delicate pastry crumbled in the mouth releasing the sharp cheese and all balanced with the right amount of honey. The restaurant finally opened and we were ushered to our table where we sat briefly hypnotized by the jellyfish tanks around us. We quickly snapped out of it when the menus were placed in front of us as the excitement was unbearable. The menu is a simple affair with a balanced selection of appetizers and mains. The chef seems to draw inspiration from traditional Portuguese cuisine but complements it with specialities from other cultures. It’s certainly not unique but it is interesting.
For an appetizer, I selected the soft boiled egg with potato foam and duck confit. The egg was served in a ring of potato foam and sprinkled with duck confit and topped with a few slices of chorizo. The dish looked beautiful and the melange of flavours and textures worked surprisingly well. From then fluffiness of the potato foam/mousse to the wetness of the egg to the sweetness and dryness of the duck and finally the spiciness of the chorizo. A very enjoyable light starter.
The main selected was the Turbot with cauliflower purée and shiitake mushrooms and “Portuguese flavours”. Visually, the dish was moderately appealing but the dish seemed not to flow. The fish was cooked perfectly requiring the lightest touch of a fork to break through the soft flesh. Two of the three stacks on the plate were garnished with a crisped seasoned skin that was mildly seasoned. The cauliflower purée was a bland uninteresting idea and the shiitake mushrooms scattered around the plate brought a new texture to a soft dish. All in all an interesting idea but somehow a little disappointing.
The disappointment of the main course was quickly forgotten with dessert. – orange tart with cinnamon ice cream. Simply and beautifully presented, I took a while just to take in the sight. The orange tart made with egg yolks was soft and spongy at the same time with an amazing flavour of orange that was neither too sweet nor too tart. The cinnamon ice cream………… I don’t know what to say. I’ve had cinnamon ice creams before where your mouth was coated with cinnamon powder after someone thought it a good idea to add a jar of it to a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But this was sheer genius! Perfectly blended with no overpowering cinnamon or sweet. Just superb! A shame that there was only a small scoop of it!
Largo is a great restaurant to visit once in a while. Service is among the best I’ve had in the world. The atmosphere and surroundings are welcoming. The food is meticulously prepared and the prices are reasonable. Even if not for food, definitely stop by and have a gin and tonic while watching jellyfish meander through their tanks in the walls of an abbey.