The reason that I stumbled upon the Irish bar in Lisbon was because the Mysterious Chinese Woman, her Mysterious Sister, and I had gone to the nearby Porto de Abrigo for lunch. It is an old restaurant down by the docks and not far from Mercado da Ribeira. Mercada da Ribeira is a marketplace that was built in 1882 on what was once an old port. It is a bit more than a market though, with a bar, a craftshop, a restaurant and live music.
Although the general area, called Cais do Sodre, is becoming somewhat gentrified, Porto da Abrigo retains its old look and, gratifying, non-gentrified prices.
A Bit Non-Descript
Okay, I know, Lisbon is not completely free of graffiti, but then this is a bit of a rundown waterfront area. And, you will note, while there may be graffiti, the streets and sidewalks are still clean.
Rundown, But Clean
The specialties here are traditional Portuguese dishes and I opted for the octopus as did the Mysterious Sister. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had, well, I really don't remember.
Octopus And Mystery Meal
And, as you know, Bar Man loves nothing more than a good tentacle.
A Good Sucker
We had a nice bottle of wine and some good cheeses to start the meal. Just a word of caution, though. Prior to your meal you are often presented with a cheese or two along with a plate of olives and bread. Although the bread is free, and maybe the olives, the cheese is not. If you eat them the price will be added to your bill. They are individually wrapped small "wheels" so it is easy to just leave them alone. Not that I ever did. And they don't unduly inflate your bill.
A few days later we went to another restaurant in the same general area. I say general, but it is a good bus or trolley ride away, or another couple of stops on the subway. I didn't know about the subway, though, because one of my guidebooks, TimeOut Lisbon (2007) did not have this stop on their maps. Apparently the subway was just extended two additional stops in the past few years. My other guidebook, Eyewitness Travel Lisbon (2008) did have the stop on its maps, but I didn't see it until it was too late.
Anyway, we took the subway from our hotel to Baixa-Chiado, then switched lines and went one stop to Cais da Sodre and then took either a bus or a trolley to the restaurant.
The restaurant is Bico do Sapato and is partially owned by the actor John Malkovich. It is considered to be one of the hippest restaurants in Lisbon, and I suspect it really heats up at night. At least it looks like it should. We went for lunch and it wasn't too crowded.
Of course because it is so "hip" it also has to be obscure. We walked right by it and had to finally ask someone where it was. Not because it is small, but because it looks like some kind of a terminal or something.
Yes, This Is It
The entrance is off to the side and can't really be seen from the sidewalk. And you can hardly see the sign until you are at the entrance.
Obscure, The New Black
Another reason why we didn't "see" it at first was because all of the restuarant reviews talk about the how it sits right on the Tejo river and you had this lovely water view.
Our "Lovely Waterview"
Nobody mentions that your only view is of the cruiseship whenever one is in port. And, according to our waitress, that is every day this time of year.
Oh well, at least our view changed a bit during our meal.
Painting And Cleaning
But the lack of a view was the only thing wrong with this place, and the view was more funny than anything else.
There are really three restaurants in one. A sushi bar is upstairs, but we didn't go up there and it might be closed during the day. There is also a casual restaurant and that one was pretty packed.
The main area is really quite fancy and there were a few business types there and, of course, a few Mysterious Chinese Women. But then they turn up everywhere.
Mysterious Chinese Women #1 and #2
There were a couple of nice bar areas and little lounging areas as well. One was even close to the river and offered a lovely view.
Okay, I am going to break it off here. I haven't even gotten to our meal yet, and that deserves special attention because it was delicious and a bit unusual. Think stewed black pork cheek with minced carrots, sauteed asparagus and secrets for an appetizer.
Stay drooling until my next post.