Restaurante Tavares, Lisbon
Tel: 351 21 342 1112
Concierge.com's insider take:
In the unlikely surroundings of a grand Baroque dining room, José Avillez has injected a little levity into some of the old classics of Portuguese cuisine and brought vanguard cuisine to Lisbon. (He admires Ferran Adrià and was the first Portuguese chef to be invited to the prestigious foodie summit Madridfusión.) As the dishes were carried out, I imagined a kitchen crammed with syringes, beakers, and alembics. Avillez tends to sublimate hoary favorites of the national repertoire: Bacalhau à bras, known to every tourist as a hearty arrangement of codfish, egg yolk, and potatoes, was as delicately constructed as a bird's nest. A fillet of sea bass cooked at low temperature appeared draped in samphire and assorted seaweeds garnered from the nearby coast. In Avillez's hands even the pastel de nata, Portugal's beloved yet stodgy custard tart, has been alchemized into a dessert of exquisite lightness on leaves of mille-feuille. The final classic on view is the restaurant itself, which has been open for more than 200 years. Wisely, Avillez has left the splendor of its glorious gilt and mirrors intact. —Jack Turner, first published on Gourmet.com
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