Bica do Sapato, Lisbon, Portugal *

The lounge area near the bar at Bica do Sapato.
Visible in this picture: Four Barcelona chairs. Two glasses of gimlet. One fireplace.

Looking in from the terrace at the Bica do Sapato.
It really is a huge place. This is looking at about 20% of the space.

My appetizer at Bica do Sapato: Scallops.
At least one thing tasted just fine that evening: The scallops.

Let’s get rid of John Malkovich.
First of all, the place is obviously well known because the actor is one of the owners. OK, now let’s focus on the actual visit. This is a huge place. Sushi bar, restaurant and bistro. Plus the lounge, bar and terrace areas to spread the crowd out. I was told to expect ”an expensive, mega-fashionable dockside establishment”. Yes, it’s the kind of place that Wallpaper love to write about. You won’t read three lines before the adjective “über-trendy” pops up. Well, I don’t know about that. It feels more than just a little outdated, (a few Mihes van der Rohe chairs and Saarinen tables won’t do) and worn out in the wrong sense of the word.

It is a place with a good attitude.
On the good side: It’s certainly not a stuffy place. You’re being taken care of by staff members who are almost cheerful. Good start. You may get lost when trying to maneuver between the different sections of the place. Fine. We get a table outside. No problem. The kitchen kicks off with scallops, (see image above). Not bad at all. But the rest of the meal is not exactly up to par. The main course of duck passes failing to make any impression at all. A day when I am in a good mood, I’d give it three stars for the overall experience. But… my dinner companion had white fish and mussels and got food poisoned. Sorry, that’s not acceptable, not if you pride yourself to be one of the best restaurants in Lisbon. That’s two stars getting ripped out of my book faster than you could say ‘Malkovich’.

So should you avoid this place altogether?
No. It’s a nice place for just hanging out. As mentioned, the staff members are great at smiling. Go here and have a glass of wine or order something that will not require a lot of skills. Until the kitchen has gotten their shit a little bit better together, you should stay away from eating. Also, the bartender could benefit from some coaching – you shouldn’t have to try to order three times before he finally gives you the thumbs up, (I started with asking for an Averna sour but ended up with a gimlet). Finally, Mr. Malkovich and his partners should haul up their wallets to give the place a little interior design overhaul. In one of the reviews that I read prior to the visit, the authors were really accurate while condencing their opinion to just one line, so I’m going to quote them: ”You’re not here to eat.”

Bica do Sapato
Av. Infante D. Henrique, Armazém B
Santa Apolonia
Lisbon, Portugal

+351-21-881-0320

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