Bica do Sapato by Inês Meneses Bica do Sapato

The curious will enter and I maintain that curiosity is the motor of intelligence and intelligence is sure to lead us to sensitivity. Then, to appetite.

Those who do not fear the size of the walls nor the door’s weight, go ahead at the front. Fearless. As we enter, we find Lisbon’s most beautiful restaurant: with its back to the departures and arrivals (Sta. Apolónia train station) and with wide windows overlooking the river. Isn’t the river also a place of departures and arrivals? Bica (do Sapato) is in the middle. Just as virtue is. A whole sea of it.   

In the winter, the fireplace makes us feel at home, a marvellous encounter of combustion and communion. In the summer, the windows bask in the sun, without scorning the Madrasa life. John Malkovich, who was once won over by the charm of the Pap’Açorda restaurant, let himself be seduced by an idea: Fernando Fernandes, José Miranda and Manuel Reis, (three of the men who best knew the life and appetite of Lisbon), were now venturing into the launch of a new restaurant. Taking the city’s pulse, you also reach the stomach. Lucky are those who know the ground they walk on.

Malkovich joined them and became a partner.

What’s fascinating about Bica do Sapato are the many nooks and crannies we discover every time we go there. “Was this here last time?”. Because you must pay attention to your dish but follow what’s going on around you: the music one hears, the flowers that divert us from our glass, (as important as a beautiful woman or man) and not always landing at a table but instead observing the action from behind the counter.

On the ground floor, the food is Portuguese, with other delicacies. Upstairs, we find sushi (but don’t let it stop you from ordering it at the tables downstairs).

Whenever I’m with foreigners, I always have to bring them here: not just for the comforting Portuguese-style rice with young goat or for the salted cod in a bed of egg and potatoes! It’s because, to the sound of Rufus Wainwright, Dead Combo or Nicolas Jaar, we will finally be able to explain why the light of Lisbon finds comfort in this restaurant! And as you leave here, with a satisfied stomach, you can understand the meaning of Saudade.

 I always maintain that we should always go back to what we love. To the loves that are also the places where we were happy. 


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