The eagerly anticipated reopening of one of the most iconic restaurants in Lisbon has not disappointed. Known for many years simply as Casa da Comida, the renamed Estórias na Casa da Comida has undergone significant changes to its appearance. Meanwhile, the restaurant continues to serve delectable Portuguese food.
Located in the city’s leafy Rato neighborhood, the refurbished restaurant is wooing clients with its new look, a fresh and contemporary makeover that melds retro chic décor with a palette of ivory white, azure blue and chestnut brown. The refined homestyle image is youthful and slightly non-conformist, the furnishings deliberately mismatched and variously crafted out of wood, plastic, leather and glass.
The interior of Estorias na Casa da Comida restaurant — Photo courtesy of Estorias na Casa da Comida
But despite its modern complexion, Estórias na Casa da Comida is all about showcasing the past.
When restaurateur Jorge Vale inaugurated the original Casa da Comida 35 years ago, little did he imagine that one day the family silver, so to speak, would take center stage as the decoration of choice for interior designer Rosarinho Gabriel.
In a touching tribute to the restaurant founder’s colorful life, Gabriel has used everyday objects belonging to the family to ornament the shelves and bookcases. Look closely, and you’ll notice among the leather-bound encyclopedias and dog-eared paperbacks items such as crystal glass decanters, pewter vases, porcelain figurines and chinaware and other everyday bric-a-brac. There’s even an antique telephone in there somewhere, plus an old Kodak Instamatic.
This is a home from home, of sorts. The lounge, in fact, resembles a well lived in front room complete with cozy fireplace and a set of armchairs rounding up a smoked glass coffee table. And therein lies the concept behind the re-launch. Estórias na Casa da Comida is a place to indulge in good food, fine wine and the joie de vivre between family and friends. Here, domestic cheer is at it’s warmest.
Casa da Comida was the first restaurant in Portugal to garner a Michelin star, and while that particular gastronomic accolade was later relinquished, the kitchen has been consistently recognized for the quality and inventiveness of its food. Indeed, Michelin still recommends the menu, and that’s due in no small measure to the culinary prowess of chef Miguel Carvalho and his team.
Chef Miguel acknowledges Portugal’s distinguished gastronomic heritage with a choice of dishes borne from land and ocean. Indeed, the menu is a real page-turner, with its mouth-watering descriptions of everything from starters like choquinho e o feijão encarnado – a deliciously balanced red bean and cuttlefish soup – to principal dishes such as garoupa abafada num caldo de amêijoa (succulent grouper bathed in a clam broth garnished with sautéed potatoes). For those who prefer turf above surf, the succulent tataki beef tenderloin is thoroughly recommended.
Sommelier Ricardo Morais picks up the narrative by imparting fascinating stories behind some of the country’s most cherished wines, and his knack at pairing labels with tables is quite beguiling.
A lighter menu has been designed to complement the wine bar and features a tempting array of bite-sized petiscos, or nibbles. The pan-fried prawns with chilly and garlic are to die for.
Actually, the bar alone works as a fashionable rendezvous for pre-dinner drinks or as a get-together for those seeking a quiet night out in cultivated surroundings. But for a truly romantic interlude, saunter outside to the wood-deck terrace and bag a corner in the candlelight.