The food scene in Lisbon has seen a resurgence in the past few years, and the chef that has been credited with sparking the revolution in contemporary Portuguese cuisine is José Avillez. His restaurant Belcanto was the first in Lisbon to earn two Michelin stars. He has added a number of new restaurants to his empire since opening Belcanto, and they include everything from pizza, to cafes, to a gourmet bar, to fine dining at its best.
Mini Bar was José Avillez’s third restaurant to be opened in the vibrant Chiado neighborhood. Located just a few blocks from his flagship fine dining Belcanto restaurant, Mini Bar is a more casual and hip bar that is housed in the São Luiz Theater. But unlike other bars, Mini Bar elevates everything it serves, from its specialty cocktails, craft beers and wines, to its amazing food offerings that are unlike any other food you have eaten in a bar before. It may be a bar with a relaxed atmosphere, but it’s still a José Avillez restaurant, which means that the food always takes center stage.
Keeping with the theatrical theme of the venue, the food is categorized into “acts” in a play with a variety of small plates offered in each act. The prices per plate average about €5 per item, with some of the mini beef and fish courses, such as the Beef Tataki, Bacalhau a Bras (cod fish) or the Vieiras Thai (scallops), priced around €10-13 per plate. The beauty of the small plates is that you can either create your own story line and select items from the menu a la carte, or go with the surprise “Epic Menu” of 10 courses designed by the chef.
Chef Avillez trained under Ferran Adrià at the highly acclaimed restaurant El Bulli in Spain, and you can see the influence this training had on him in the dishes he serves at Mini Bar. As it says on the playful menu “…not everything is what it seems!” The 1st Act on the menu features two “mini cocktails to bite”, a Green Apple Margarita that you chew and the whimsical Caipirinha Belcanto delivered in a sphere. They are literally bite sized and a great way to start the gourmet show at Mini Bar, so rather than choose between them, just order both and enjoy. Two items listed under the 2nd Act are signature dishes that pay homage to his Spanish mentor: the “El Bulli Olives Xl-LX” and the “Ferrero Rocher, not what it appears to be” bonbons. Both are inventive, indulgent and delicious, and not to be missed.
Mini Bar serves dinner and drinks starting at 7:00 pm from Monday to Sunday. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
- Rua António Maria Cardoso, 58
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Phone: (21) 130 53 93
- Website: Minibar
Photo credit: © Christopher Pappas · All rights reserved.
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