David Harfield enjoys fine dining cuisine in unpretentious surroundings at Corinthia Hotel Lisbon’s Típico.
One thing that the Instagram generation has contributed to the culinary world, besides the nervous breakdowns of not-so-steady-handed chefs the world over, is that the focus of restaurants has returned to the food itself. Sure, it’s great to have a fun concept and unique décor, but if the food doesn’t look great and taste even better (oh yes, a true ’grammer will never add a #NoLeftovers tag on a pic of a dish that was a feast for the eyes only, not the mouth), then the venue is a #dud and all the drapery and dim lighting in the world can’t save it. When I tuck into our meal at the relaxed and informal Típico, I’m happy to report that the innovative, exciting and downright delicious food doesn’t need any gussying up by its surroundings whatsoever.
Situated on the ground floor of the Corinthia Lisbon, Típico is the venue where the majority of guests enjoy their breakfast and therefore has a bright, relaxed aesthetic along with a large buffet table. We take our seats near the window before the charming manager talks us through the menu and recommends a bottle of wine to suit our choices, which we toast over a delightful amuse bouche of serrano ham and spiced potato. During this trip, I’ve noticed that the Portuguese seem to keep all of their country’s best wine for themselves, exemplified here in a particularly fine Douro Sedinhas Reserva. This is a similar attitude to the Australians, one that I was impressed by when I first visited the wine regions of W.A. and discovered some of the best wines that I’ve tasted to this day. Up until then, I thought that the sum total of Australian oenophilic production were the £4.99 bottles of Jacob’s Creek that my friends and I strawpedoed in parks as teenagers. Bloody poms.
Guests have the option of a €30 per person buffet or dining à la carte; we opt for the latter and are soon presented with brilliant white square plates upon which our starters are lain ready for the snapping, sorry, eating (nice clean canvas, though). My disc of octopus salad is mixed with chives and red pepper that are cut brunoise but served fresh to retain their trademark crunch; with a foliage topping and duo of spicy chorizo crisps, this is a curious, bold and impressive kick-off to the meal. We also gobble up the salmon ‘done three ways’ with alacrity: the steamed segment topped with a jellied film of beetroot is probably my favourite, followed closely by a wedge of smoked fish and couscous and then the cured gravlax with fennel and onion jam.
The mains arrive on the same type of camera-friendly white plates and I can tell from the waft of garlic and herbs and generous portion size that I’ve made a good choice (one recommended by the manager, so I shouldn’t take all the credit…but will anyway). Two king prawns are cooked in the lagareiro style, which is to say that they have been doused in olive oil after roasting; with a strong garlic scent exuding from these enormous crustaceans, combined with the garlic jelly that coats the accompanying sautéed, turret-like turnip tops and wilted greens, this is certainly a vampire no-go zone. However, for anyone who’s not a bloodsucking member of the living dead (or a vegetarian – tangents, I know), this is a truly outstanding dish, not least down to the meatiness of the prawns and their tough yet flavoursome consistency. A fillet of sea bass is crowned with a similarly large shrimp along and a rectangular wedge of thick bacon; a parsley sauce drizzled over green vegetables and potatoes presented in a haute cuisine format makes this one another winner for sure.
Dessert brings up two new experiences for me: risotto as a pudding and lyophilized raspberries. Now, I’ve had freeze-dried fruit before, but it’s this esoteric, gorgeous word (“lyophilized”, just say it out loud!) that is a revelation; I can’t wait casually to drop it into conversation when I return to England, although just quite how to do this I haven’t yet worked out. And here’s me thinking that I’d come to Portugal and all I’d learn was, “Duas cervejas por favor!” Oh yes, and the actual dish is great, a violent burst of raspberry red dust all over the tangy, sweet vanilla stodge.
The friendly waitress drops a couple of miniature Portuguese custard tarts, a national delicacy, off at our table and we eagerly fit one more bite into our already-bursting stomachs before bidding the team adieu. But not before taking a photo of our finished plates, naturally.
Típico Restaurant, Av Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, 105, 1099-031 Lisbon, Portugal
Tel: +351 21 7236363
The restaurant is located in the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon which is located in the centre of Lisbon with views overlooking the 18th Century Aqueduct and Monsanto National Park. The hotel is also just a ten-minute taxi ride from the airport 7 kilometres away. The main metro and train station are both within walking distance of the hotel. It is open Monday to Sunday from 12:30pm to 3:30pm for lunch and from 7:00pm to 11:00pm for dinner.
Type of Restaurant: Portuguese and Mediterranean Fine Dining Restaurant
Insider Tip: Always ask the staff’s recommendations, they have great taste!
Price Band: High
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of Corinthia Hotel Lisbon