Visiting Portugal is exciting because of its many historic sights to enjoy first hand. Lisbon, however, should be on your radar as a destination that already has a very eclectic local and national gastronomy scene. Pasteis de Nata, arguably the most popular Portuguese egg custard tart pastry, and many other pastries surround you on every corner. Fresh seafood, especially cod fish is served in enough variations for each day of the year (apparently there are more than 365 recipes). And there’s lots of wine! Hundreds of indigenous varieties you simply can’t get enough of. This includes Port, a fortified wine you have probably heard of, produced in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal. So when it comes to dining out, there is much to choose from, but we think this place should be at the top of your list—especially for history buffs. The truly distinctive Palácio Chiado, an elegant palace built in 1781, delivers an exceptional experience to appeal to all the senses.
We discovered this historic place the modern way, via their Instagram account and it just seemed either too good to be true or an escapade like no other. So a decision was made, let’s try it out! Since this place is ideal for a special occasion the reservation should be made a few days in advance. Why not dress up! After all, you are heading to a night out in a palace.
We arrived a little early so that we could test their mixologist’s skills. After checking in with a muscular security guard and passing the less regal ground floor it was time to present our savior-faire. Aperitif time first. (photo left @francisconogueira, via Instagram)
The stairs leading to the cocktail area are mysterious and grand—upon entering the first room you are welcomed by a golden, flying lion. This winged lion, named Marquis, is a surreal element of the place defying gravity and hinting on the exciting experience yet to come. Although we were offered to immediately take our table, to assuage our Negroni craving was first on the agenda. There were some other great drink choices but we opted for a classic. It is always the best sign of what to expect for the rest of the evening (and their Negroni was a good sign). (photo @francisconogueira, via Instagram)
Elaborately painted scenes of what seems to be a battle. We see men and women fighting off soldiers on horses carrying long swords in armour. In contrast, the ornamented ceilings gave us a feeling of a space where the aristocracy and ‘bons vivants’ once danced. So we took a moment to admire the lavish surroundings combined with modern furniture elements. There is a vitrine as a bar top displaying glass bottles which adds a special modern touch to this eighteenth century palace. (photo @francisconogueira, via Instagram)
When it was time to sit down we were given a beautiful spacious séparé, kind of a booth, suitable for a bigger dinner party so this gesture made the two of us pretty special. It is always appreciated when servers use common sense and want to make their guests happy given there were quite a few available. This restaurant also has “salas exclusivas” rooms that can be booked for private events. We managed to peek into one and they are just as special when it comes to the interior as the main, grand space. (photo right @francisconogueira, via Instagram)
This restaurant has a great selection of wines, all of them are 100% Portuguese. You must try and become familiar with their “vinho verde”which comes from the region of Vinho Verde, a Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC), the country’s largest appellation. They are delightfully fresh with a slight fizz, and made from a blend of native Portuguese grapes and released without being aged.
Our first course was sautéed shrimp with sweet chili and guacamole topped with leafy greens. It was fresh, well prepared and nicely presented. Also perfectly paired with the above wine. For the main course we chose char-grilled salmon with apple risotto and a side of granny smith salad. An unusual combination, but surprisingly it was just the right combination. It was hard to resist dessert, so we opted for a light fresh raspberry pie with red fruit coulis made a great finish.
Visiting Palácio Chiado was a great addition to the overall Lisbon experience. There are many more items on their menu to try, so it is not goodbye, it’s “see you later.” On our radar for future outings: Chickpea cream with cod confit served with spinach and virgin olive oil, Veal tartar served with egg and fried potato peel agria, Braised duck with orange sweet potato purée and roasted asparagus, and of course, their light and fresh desserts.
Palácio Chiado, R. do Alecrim 70, 1200-018 Lisboa, Portugal
See more on LISBON dining and cocktail-ing at these links:
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