Bairro do Avillez livening it up in Lisbon
The new darling of Portugese dining is Jose Avillez, a handsome 37 year old chef who is turning traditional Portugese food on its head. He is a little like a Portugese Jamie Oliver, with six restaurants, (including Belcanto, the first Lisbon restaurant to earn two Michelin stars) four cookbooks, daily tips on radio and a popular TV series. I recently dined at José Avillez’s newest restaurant, Bairro do Avillez, located in Chiado, at Rua Nova da Trinidade, in Lisbon. Bairro means ‘district’ in Portuguese and one finds a neighbourly, welcoming ambience here. Spacious and surprising, it houses different eating areas inspired by Portuguese flavours. It is found in Lisbon’s buzzing Bairro Alto neighbourhood filled with jazz clubs, late night bars and reached by one of the city’s pretty funicular trains. Open every day from noon to midnight there’s a treat here on every corner. I discovered an irresistible Mercearia (market) to buy delicacies, gifts, books and chef worthy accessories - a real Aladdin’s cave of delights for foodies where you can find all manners of delicious goodies like the best cheeses and cured sausages as well as canned goods, kitchen accessories and aprons. Then there is a Taberna (tavern style diner) for those who like light but amazing food such as suckling pig sandwiches with pickled seaweed. I ate in the Pateo a gorgeous open garden-like space with tumbling foliage and a first floor balcony. I ate grilled sea bass and Jose's take on the Portuguese dessert pasteis de nata mille-feuille. Couples, family groups and bands of friends celebrating a birthday were among my fellow diners.
The charcuterie specialties have an extraordinary selection of high-quality, carefully selected cheeses and cured meats. The products can be purchased to take away or to enjoy immediately, at the peak of their flavour, along with a good wine or a good beer.