Olá Lisboa! Eating John Malkovich* at Bica do Sapato

July 30, 2014
*or rather 'Eating at John's Malkovich's'. You'll see.

Finally, my long-awaited blog posts on Lisbon! But first, the prologue...

...three Monday mornings ago Henry and I sailed ever-so-smoothly through the tasteful serenity (by airport standards) that is Gatwick airport. None of the overwhelming size and busy crowds of Heathrow (although every time I'm there the stress is somewhat buffeted by the safe cocoon of Malaysia Airlines lounge) nor the hour long queues to get through immigration and security checks at Stansted. Instead we whizzed passed with all the grace of a Premium Lane pass holder (quite a pleasant surprise given that we opted for budget flights) and I was spoilt with a rather delicious early morning airport breakfast of Jamie's Italian eggs benedict (was that a hint of garlic butter I detected? Mmmm) that more than made up for the horrific eggs benny Luxy and I had at Heathrow before our flight to Cuba. Afterward, instead of a panicked dash for our flight we allowed ourselves to peacefully glide on the moving walkway, basking in sunlight flooding in from the glass walls that looked out to airplanes parked ever so patiently on the runway. It was at that very moment that I,  bathed in morning light and gazing quite contently at the horizon, felt a warm fuzzy feeling (probably from the sun) and sighed "Oh...I love Gatwick, it's soooo beautiful." Henry thought it was cute because he'd never think that anyone would find beauty in an airport (I can't wait for him to see KLIA's Jungle Boardwalk and have his mind blown) and that an experienced traveller like myself could be awed by Gatwick. Now I'm being teased endlessly for devoting an entire paragraph to singing the praises of Gatwick. "Jasiminne it's plane to see you've taken off with flights of fancy" Yeah yeah yeah, wait till you walk through a tropical rainforest with a waterfall inside an airport, then we'll see who's laughing.

(Yes, I'm getting to the topic of Lisbon!)

Our relaxing travel experience ended there. The moment our feet touched Portuguese soil we were hit by the scorching sun of Europe's most Western and sunniest capital. We underestimated how hot Lisbon was and how much of a hindrance it would be to our plans of wandering around the city. In fact on our third day we gave up trying to do anything vaguely cultural and just escaped to the beach. 

Defeated by the Portuguese heat even as we walked along the river, we called it a day and decided to just spend our first evening in Lisbon at John Malkovich's swish new restaurant Bica do Sapato.

We arrived early and enjoyed having the place mostly to ourselves before the usual crowd of "the scene-savvy, design-obsessed jet set" flock to this fashionable in Lisbon for their evening fix of people-watching, gossip, and pre gaming of before a night out at Lux next door. A former boat factory in the riverside warehouse district, Bica do Sapato is now three restaurants under one roof; a minimal sushi bar upstairs, the more formal restaurant on the ground floor, and the 'cafeteria' outside where we dined and enjoyed views of the harbour.

We started with a basket of bread, olives, butter and poultry livers pâté before moving on to dinner. As per my special 'gorging without gaining (too much) weight' diet I had three starters instead of two starters and a main, while Henry went about the more conventional route.

Henry's starter: terrine of brown and sautéed foie gras with confit apple pie.

My three starters: duck carpaccio with shallots and Spring onion, red wine vinegar reduction and dried fruit bread toasts... 

...tuna tartare with grilled lime and mandarin...

...and sauteed scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree.

For his main courses Henry had the grilled swordfish steak and oysters from Sado.

We finished off with pudding...

...Portuguese meringue stuffed with raspberry sorbet and red fruits...

...and pastel de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts).

The perks of eating early: you get to enjoy the peace and quiet, wander around the restaurant pretending to own the place, and take mirror selfies without annoying too many people. And something about giving your body enough time to digest your food before bed, but that's not nearly as important.

We watched the sun set on our first evening in Lisbon while enjoying the crisp bubbles of cold champagne. As the heat of day gave way to the chill of evening, the beautiful people of Lisbon descended onto Bica do Sapato and we conceded with an Uber ride into the Portuguese night.


  1. It looks heavenly! I'm so with you on the starters instead of mains, although sometimes that's even too much in hot heat!!

    Rosie xx

    1. Starters all the way, especially in summer! *dances to tune of I'm Sexy and I know it* NIBBLE NIBBLE NIBBLE NIBBLE, YEAH! x

    2. I love your travel posts, you're such an awesome story teller.
      I missed a Portugal trip last year and I'm still sulking about it.
      Re starters, I also do that often, but mostly in the summer when a big plate of hot food is not a desirable option... that and also I get to try a lot more by nibbling! but waiters still look much confuse every time..