Alma – Chiado, Lisbon, 1/30/16

Entrance
Entrance

A smallish place that’s only been open for 3 months – it is already quite popular. This could be due to the notoriety of Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa who has not only worked at a number of good restaurants but also published cookbooks and has his own TV cooking show.  In fact, when they pour the olive oil at your table you’ll notice his picture on the label.  He stands at the edge of the kitchen providing finishing details and making sure all plates are perfect before they are brought out. He brought out a number of our courses which made for wonderful detail about their composition – and he is a master here combining texture, flavor and color.  All the staff were friendly and most helpful. They made it look fun to work there!  It sure was fun to dine here – a winner meal!

entry
entry
table set up
table set up
fun flatware
fun flatware
Chef looks over every plate before it's brought out
Chef looks over every plate before it’s brought out

You must press the bell to gain entry into the wonderful space that he has chosen for the place. It is full of preserved columns and arches and then highlighted with modern lighting and wine display racks. It is a warm and relaxed ambiance.

Interior
Interior
love the architectural details
love the architectural details
bar/waiting area
bar/waiting area
wine wall
wine wall
Second dining room
Second dining room
Chef Henrique Sa Pessoa
Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa

They offer à la carte as well as several tasting menus. We chose the Alma menu but I bet all would be good choices.

menu cover
menu cover
A la carte menu
A la carte menu
tasting menus
tasting menus

Everyone starts with an amuse of tapioca cracker with bits of sausage and paprika, it’s a nice smokey flavor. It comes with a delicious foie gras macaroon and a jar of salted cod, the most popular dish in Lisbon. This version is creamy like a sandwich filling and it’s very nice.

IMG_9697
Tapioca cracker with sausage bits and paprika.  Foie gras macaroon
Salted cod - creamed like a sandwich filling. Very nice.
Salted cod

 

The sommelier was great and found us a delicious wine of Portuguese grapes.

wine
wine
Francisco, helpful and knowledgable sommelier
Francisco, helpful and knowledgable sommelier
Frankie played with the cork
Frankie played with the cork

 

There are 3 bread options and they all are quite tasty.

Bread tray: Corn and sweet potato,  dark/carob, Portugese white bread
Bread tray: Corn and sweet potato, dark/carob, Portugese white bread
one of each
one of each
olive oil and butter
olive oil and butter

 

The grilled red peppers look like they’re charred but it is a tempura batter that just has a slight essence of smoke and a perfect crunch with the sweet pepper inside and a dipping sauce that perfectly compliments the flavor.

IMG_9718
Charcoal grilled red pepper with tempura batter. May look burned but it’s not a bit so. Underneath is dipping sauce.
Inside
Inside

 

The marinated mackerel came with cucumber and roe all surrounded by tomato and lemon grass water sauce. It was a perfect combination of flavors.

IMG_9741
Marinated horse mackerel, salmon, cucumber, roe tomato and tomato and lemongrass water

 

The baby carrots come with bulgar wheat, dried fruit and raisins, fried herbs and goat cheese. The little sweet spikes from the fruits and creaminess of the cheese make this really sing – a wonderful combination of tastes and textures.

Glazed baby carrots, goat cheese, dried fruit bulghur, cumin oil
Glazed baby carrots, goat cheese, dried fruit bulghur, cumin oil

 

The foie gras was cooked perfectly and I loved the crunch of the granola with the sweet taste of the pears on top of the rich foie gras. Wow – this was a real plate licker!

Seared foie gras, poached pear, spiced beetroot, granola, pistachio cream
Seared foie gras, poached pear, spiced beetroot, granola, pistachio cream
close up
close up
Frankie was exhausted from eating
Frankie was exhausted from eating

 

The super fresh red mullet came with dots of red pepper and a sauce made from the fish. A grits-like stuff was underneath the fish that had been cooked with fish broth and helped to deliver flavor to the dish. The crunchy scales topping it all were a really nice touch.

Red mullet presentation
Red mullet presentation
Adding sauce
Adding sauce
Finished: Red mullet with 'caldeirada' sauce and fried scales
Finished: Red mullet with ‘caldeirada’ sauce and fried scales

 

The Argentine beef was served with celery purée was nice and thankfully a smaller portion. The barbecue sauce was not tomato based but still tasty but overall this course was weaker than the previous ones.

Beef entrecote with celeriac mousseline, beetroot pickle and barbecue jus
Beef entrecote with celeriac mousseline, beetroot pickle and barbecue jus
close up
close up

 

Basil sorbet started our transition to dessert and it was delicious with some incredibly flavorful fruit.

Basil sorbet with macerated Azores Island pineapple
Basil sorbet with macerated Azores Island pineapple

 

The drops of lime were intensely flavored and filled with fresh lime essence.

Drops of lime with frozen lime juice
Drops of lime with frozen lime juice
Frankie almost got them
Frankie almost got them

 

The cake came with a cream cheese ice cream and crumbles. It was really nice.

as plated
Olive cake with tomato jam, cream cheese ice cream
Olive cake with tomato jam, cream cheese ice cream
close up
Frankie thought we should have shared dessert
Frankie thought we should have shared dessert

 

Final sweets were all lovely with the custard tart being a real standout but then chocolate truffle was a really good bite too.

IMG_9928
Custard tart – one bite – with cinnamon. Dark Chocolate truffle. Pistachio Madeleine
Frankie played on the towels in the bathroom
Frankie played on the towels in the bathroom
kitchen
kitchen
Marta, our fine waitress
Marta, our fine waitress
us with chef
us with chef

One thought on “Alma – Chiado, Lisbon, 1/30/16

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