For the most part, we focus our travel dining on well-reviewed family-owned eateries that serve traditional fare. Occasionally, we take a break and enjoy a good steakhouse or an Italian or Asian restaurant. Rarely, usually once during a long stay, do we splurge on a top-notch exceptional dining destination.
In Lisbon, we chose a hotel restaurant, BAHR in the barrio Chiado. It ranks high on many best-of-Lisbon lists for its creative menu by chef Bruno Rochas and stunning rooftop views of the city. Their tagline also piqued our interest: “In this space, visitors are treated to a modern and informal atmosphere, to which the best of Portuguese cuisine with Lusophony influences added.”
“What the hell are Lusophony influences?” I asked Mary.
I’ve never had Lusophony. Never saw it on a menu. I wondered if Anthony Bourdain once swallowed a whole raw Lusophony on “No Reservations.” Or, maybe Lusophony is a place, one of those eastern European states I always get confused about.
Mary shrugged and simply said, “Look it up.”
Why didn’t I think of that?
I did. Lusophones, I learned, are peoples and nations that recognize Portuguese as an official language. There are a lot more than you might expect. After all, Spain and Portugal split the New World in the 15th century. So now there are 270 million Lusophones spread across 10 sovereign states and territories – Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Mozambique, East Timor, the Azores archipelago, the island of Madeira, Cochin, and Goa in India, Singapore, and Malacca to name a few.
What the good folks at BAHR were saying is that their dishes may have influences from any of the aforementioned countries in Lisophonia. I think.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably curious about our meal. They welcomed us into the spacious dining room, a sophisticated, contemporary, and comfortable space. We were seated with a clear view into the open kitchen, always fun to observe when the restaurant is aiming high.
Our starters included a raw beef ‘Pica-Pau’ taco with hints of Azorean pineapple and a bright sea bass ceviche with peppery watercress and sweet nectarine. Both were home runs, but our shared main, Portuguese rice with scarlet shrimp, was a grand slam. The sea flavors were intense and the seared shrimp succulent and sweet. No wonder this memorable dish has been on the menu since BAHR opened.
Desserts refreshed our palates with surprising sweet and puckery flavors – strawberries with tomato sorbet and yogurt ice cream, and Italian meringue topped with icy green apple granita and fennel accents. Yummy.
The food and drink were complemented by the friendly server and the outstanding sommelier, David Rosa, who became our friend before the night ended. He started us with an aged but still crisp bubbly. Plus, his selection of white wine for the meal from the extensive list was spot on. We finished our perfect evening on the rooftop looking down on the glittering city and Tagus river. It was a perfectly Lusophonious evening.