Last night in Lisbon and last night in Portugal….we need to finish on a high. Bica do Sapato is a smart restaurant housed in an old port building. Glass walls on one side give fabulous views over the waterfront and photographic panels on the other walls change every now and then to create a more interesting environment. Music plays gently in the background and the whole feel of the place is very sophisticated.
Nearly every time we have dined in Portugal we have been presented with bread and olives while we look through the menu. We usually send them back because we know there is a cover charge and we don’t want to pay for something that we are not going to enjoy. Here, however, the bread selection and the olives look beautiful and are accompanied by a chicken liver paté and a lightly spiced butter. We’re not sending any of this back…
Once we have decided on food we ask about which wine would complement our dishes and we both have a glass of the Casa de Santar Reserva, a fine and fruity Portuguese red.
Rock is having the stewed pork cheek with creamy potato purée and a poached quail’s egg. It is absolutely beautiful. I have chosen the grilled swordfish served with couscous, tomatoes, lemongrass and ginger. It is superb – the swordfish is meaty enough to work well with the fabulous flavours of the lemongrass and ginger.
For dessert we decide to share the lemon meringue tart with red fruit sorbet. Instead of simply giving us two spoons – the kitchen divides the tart onto two plates each with a quenelle of sorbet. Fine pastry, tangy lemon, delicate meringues and a lovely sorbet. A fitting end to an elegant and enjoyable meal. We would have stayed for coffee, and maybe a port, but the gentle background music has changed…
Earlier we were getting music similar in style to Richard Hawley or I Am Kloot and these helped to enhance the ambience of the restaurant. This changed to something that sounded like a cross between Bon Jovi and Anthony & the Johnsons – the volume has been turned up and some of it sounds like harrassed wailing. It all feels very intrusive and entirely inappropriate.
Overall, we loved the food and the service. The restaurant is a fabulous and sophisticated setting. Whoever is in charge really needs to make sure the music is in harmony with the food, the setting and the people who are paying the bill!