We arrived in the heart of buzzing Bairro Alto for dinner at The Decadente, one of Lisbon’s most popular eateries for travellers and locals alike. Hearing all sorts of praise for their locally produced and affordable fare, those who discover that The Decadente is housed in a hostel, The Independente, need not be put off.
Warm, inviting and stylish it serves food and drinks all day and night. As you sit on shared benches, moustached waiters wearing 1950s white tees and braces take good care of you in a cosy restaurant and bar. Modestly decorated with some wonderfully retro touches and large windows on one side of the room, we admired the simplicity and function of this hip Lisbon hangout. So what about the food then? Was it really as good as we had been told?
Big fans of Portuguese wine we were curious to try their own Decadente Alentejo. It had a zingy citrusy aroma but tasted soft and mellow with a long finish – a nice surprise actually! Planning to share each dish, we tried the small but tasty sauteed shrimp in hot sauce and dill. Next up were little pork pockets, essentially mini tacos but with soft, sweet and very moreish bread pillows. The grilled salmon tenderloin that followed made me very happy indeed, warm throughout yet barely seared, the loin was fresh and delicate and matched exquisitely with dill and celery purée. Simple, inviting and appealing we began to really, really like The Decadente.
Always seasonal, if possible local, Chef Nuno Bandeira hails his restaurant as ‘guilt-free self-indulgence, the hedonist way’ and like the statement proclaims; the team are conscious of what they put out in front of you. All about hedonism then, our super-sweet waiter Phillip insisted we try the traditional cheesecake with tomato jam. A savoury delight, it lay on a bed of cookie soaked in treacle. Creamy, intense and slightly sweet it really was divine. As we sat in the outdoor area thoughts of a post-dinner snooze were made reality thanks to their makeshift lounge-beds. In fact, the entire ground floor of this rather cool and grand hostel is open to the public, a nice touch as it’s a splendid place to hang out. For around a tenner you can eat some ridiculously good food; rich, authentic and responsible… it makes for a must try (if not stay) Lisbon location.