IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

An Exquisite Balance of Flavor, Freshness and Ambience

Open Brasserie Mediterrânica

inspira-santa-marta-hotel-openInspired by the feng shui philosophy of harmony and balance in sound, color, texture, light and materials, the Open Brasserie Mediterrânica is a hip, vibrant restaurant offering Mediterranean-influenced cuisine featuring fresh, healthful choices. Located in the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, the “open” style kitchen awakens the senses, heightening the expectation of what is to come.

From the moment we were seated at our table next to the windows, we knew we were in for a treat.  Our cheerful server greeted us and came back with an amusé bouche of veal carpaccio, a welcome treat from the chef.  Next came a selection of fresh breads and rolls, accompanied by organic olive oil with balsamic vinegar and fleur de sel.

We studied the menu put together by Chef João Silva, whose stated goals revolved around the words “seasonal, fresh, local and organic.”  On a framed board welcoming guests to the Chef’s  Atelier (workshop), we were encouraged to allow ourselves to be surprised with simple, fresh, wholesome food, and, whenever possible, organic products produced locally or sourced from fair trade suppliers.  Each page of the menu features an interpretive legend explaining the four symbols used to designate certain items as G (gluten-free), L (lactose-free), v (vegetarian), and V (Vegan).  In some cases, as the fruit in the dessert or the Penne with tomato sauce, lentils and green vegetables, all four symbols were represented.

From the Starters portion of the menu my wife ordered the Legumes grelhados e queijo de Azeitão, Flatbread with grilled vegetables, sheep butter and Azeitão cheese (€8). Azeitão is a handcrafted, unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese made in the foothills of the Arrábida Mountains in southwest Portugal.  Light in color, it has a buttery, semi-soft consistency. Azeitão is a vegetarian cheese having a mix of sour and salty herbaceousness.

Our server invited my wife to try a taste of one of the server’s favorite white wines, Three Marias, which was a Portuguese vinho verde or green (young) wine.  These wines have a slight effervescence and the white wines (there can be reds and rosés too), have a lemon or straw color.  This particular wine did not suit my wife’s tastes, so a Dalva white wine was brought out instead.  These wines, produced by C. (Clemente) Da Silva, from the traditional Port wine House founded in 1862, and renamed Dalva, are from one of Portugal’s distinguished winemakers.

For my starter, I had the Salmão marinado, marinated salmon with green salad, fennel, cucumber and yogurt dressing (€8.50).  I selected a glass of the red Esporão, from the best-known wine producer with a 700-year history in the Alentejo, a region east of Lisbon.  I very much enjoyed the hearty blend of this full-bodied wine.

Squid, octopus, John Dory and Portuguese cod were fish options on the menu, but we opted for the meat courses.  Here the four choices were veal, rack of lamb, suckling pig belly and smoked chicken breast.  My wife chose the latter, Frango e queijo “Granja dos Moinhos,” Smoked chicken breast with fettuccini pasta, snap peas and “Granja dos Moinhos” cheese sauce (€15).  The chevre or goat cheese has a texture that is slightly creamy and a little crumbly but is considered a delicacy and a true cheese lover’s cheese.  Over the years Granja dos Moinhos has gradually won over chefs and restaurateurs who have begun to feature it in their recipes.

I opted for the Vitelão dos Açores e presunto Pata Negra, Azores veal steak with baked potatoes and “Pata Negra” smoked ham (€16). Veal is a popular item in Portugal, often served as veal cheeks, and the veal from the Azores is considered to be of excellent quality.  Pata Negra smoked ham is also known as Iberian ham, made from black Iberian pigs.  The best quality ham or bellota, can be sold for nearly $100 per pound.  The pigs are fed an abundance of acorns and the meat is cured from three to four years.  A lesser priced ham, but still expensive, is alternatively priced at approximately $52 per pound.  These hams have only been recently allowed into the United States.

On the menu we found three kinds of pastas and risottos offered along with a kids’ menu of bean soup, burger and fries or penne pasta, and a inspira-santa-marta-open kitscoop of ice cream or seasonal fruit.  Clearly, Open Brasserie Mediterrânica is a place that warmly welcomes children as well as gastronomically discerning adults.

Six Sobremesa or Dessert courses are featured.  I opted for the Banana da Madeira e flor de sal da Rio Formosa, Crispy banana from Madeira with salted caramel and yogurt ice cream.  My wife had the classic dessert simply called Citronela, a Citronella crème brûlée.  Both were fantastic and made for a spectacular finish to our wonderful meal.

Open Brasserie Mediterrânica can seat up to eighty diners.  In addition to the dinner hours of 7:30-10:30 pm, the restaurant is open from 7:00 to 10:00 am for breakfast and from 12:30 to 2:30 pm for lunch.  Two options are available for the midday meal: 1) A main course, salad buffet and desserts, Inspira Water, a glass of wine and coffee for €13.80; or 2) An economic menu, featuring the salad buffet and dessert OR main course, Inspira Water and coffee for € 9.80.  Every day the restaurant serves different meat and fish dishes, three risottos that vary weekly, and their ‘Mirandês’ cheeseburger and the chicken burger.

Take time to enjoy the tranquil environment, imaginative menu, joyful servers, and fabulous flavors of Portuguese cuisine with the finest quality and freshest seasonal ingredients.  Your visit here will be an unforgettable experience of wide-ranging Portuguese specialties.   Whether you sample chestnuts from as far away as Portugal’s northeastern corner of Tras os Montes or sweet potato from Aljezur, the furthest southwestern tip of the country, the result will be as tasty and healthy as you can imagine.

Open Brasserie Mediterrânica

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel

Rua de Santa Marta, 48

1150-297 Lisbon, Portugal

Tel  +351 210 440 900

Fax +351 210 435 993

Website:  www.inspirahotels.com

Email: reservas.ismh@inspirahotels.com


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