Lisbon Dining Scene: Restaurant Alma

Chee and I often travel to Lisbon and we’ve come to realise that most of the Portuguese restaurants serve dishes that are soaked in olive oil and heavy (don’t get me wrong, the dishes are flavourful and Portuguese olive oil is of top quality). We searched further and found a number of restaurants where the cuisine incorporates French flair while retaining Portuguese traditions.  One of them is “Alma” restaurant and we’ve been there twice on two separate visits to Lisbon.

Once you pass the main entrance, you feel like you’ve just entered heaven as the restaurant’s decor is all white with a big cloud as a centre-piece light and friendly staff welcome you with wide smiles.

The menu purposed by chef Henrique Sà Pessoa is in 3 parts: the tasting menu with the classic signature dishes of the chef, the seasonal tasting menu and the ‘à la carte’ menu. On our first visit, we tried the classic tasting menu and were impressed. The dishes were cooked perfectly and the mixture of flavours were pleasing to even the harshest critic, me :) As accompaniment, I chose a white Bairrada wine at around €30 by Luis Pato, a very good Portuguese wine producer! The wine list which is made up of mainly Portuguese wines offers a very good selection and good price/quality ratio.

Having had such a good experience on our first visit, I decided to bring Chee back to Alma on our recent visit to Lisbon and we went for the à la carte menu.

Before our meal, we received their sumptuous assortment of home-made breads – white bread, thin crispy bread with sesame and focaccia (  The focaccia was tasty, delicious just heavenly!) – and an appetizer (velouté of chickpeas with truffle oil).

After stuffing ourselves with bread (3 servings of focaccia, no less ;)), we decided to share one starter: Squid & prawns sautéed in chilli and garlic with cherry tomatos, roquette and parmesan.

Very nice and refreshing to start off the meal!

For the main dish, Chee chose the traditional duck rice with Iberian pork chorizo and sliced duck magret. I went for the lamb tenderloin, creamy potato and garlic mash, sautéed cepes and spinach.  The presentation of the duck rice reminded Chee of the duck rice served back in Singapore but that was where the similarity ended. The dish was oozing with flavours and left Chee wanting more. The lamb tenderloin may have paled in comparison to the duck but was still a pleasure to the taste buds.

Greedy BollyChees decided to each order a dessert and we went with the molten dark chocolate lava cake with coffee ice cream and the warm banana and toffee pudding with coconut ice cream.

We left the restaurant stuffed and on hindsight, we should have shared a dessert but who can say no to desserts?

We’ve been impressed by the quality of the food at Alma on both visits and can safely say that it’s definitely a must-go in Lisbon!

Restaurant Alma by Chef Henrique Sà Pessoa

www.alma.co.pt

P/S: Chee also recommends the following restaurants in Lisbon (a list which is by no means exhaustive as we get to try more restaurants in Lisbon in the future):

Solar dos Presuntos

Traditional Portuguese restaurant where we dine in an informal setting. Reservations are necessary. Be forewarned that the restaurant can get noisy as there are many tables and it’s always full to the brim with customers.

Restaurant Eleven

The only restaurant in Lisbon that’s featured in the Relais & Châteaux guide. The view over the Edward VII park is probably one of the best views from a restaurant in Lisbon. Chee suggests going for lunch as the lunch menu is very reasonably priced (EUR 38 for three courses with two glasses of wine).

A Travessa

It may be difficult to find the restaurant as it’s situated in a small street but once you enter and find yourself in the charming surroundings (the restaurant is housed in a former convent), you would know that the search was worth it. The restaurant serves up Portuguese cuisine with international influences. Definitely worth a try though it can be pricey.

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