Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Restaurante Largo, Lisbon

Lisbon.  Not exactly known for food (besides Pastéis de Belém, which, is actually totally worth the hype).  Group dining.  Also not generally known for the food.  But I was in Lisbon, and with a big group for a conference, so I did my research, and generated a list of places worth trying, ready to be consulted as needed.

My first night in Lisbon I was stuck in conference calls from my hotel room, and wasn't able to venture out, but the second day, I was asked to help find a place for ~20 people.  That night.  Challenge accepted.

My options were obviously limited due to group size and last minute booking, but we settled on Largo, mostly on my list for the very large gin menu, the fact that they had a website in English, and a decent number of menu items that sounded up my alley.

It was ... about as expected.  Mediocre.

Setting

Beautiful Views (en route).
While I did not find much of Lisbon scenic, the walk to Largo included one lookout, and the timing was such that the lighting really did make it almost look pretty.
Entrance.
The entrance wasn't particularly inviting, concrete with a small sign.
Arches!
The interior was really unique, with lots of arches, high ceilings, and crazy lighting.  The glowing thing in the middle of the room here was the bar.
Tables.
White, green, and black.  Those were the colors throughout the restaurant.

Tables, and the bar, were gleaming white.  Chairs and walls were green.  Placemats were black.

Place settings came with two knives and forks, plus an extra bread knife.  Cutlery was removed that we didn't need.
Bathroom.
The color scheme continued into the bathroom.  The green theme continued with the walls and counters, and the sink, and, uh, the toilet paper, were black.  Yes, black toilet paper!

Also a bit notable was the real washcloths.

Drinks

As I mentioned, Largo is known for the gin selection, so that is where we focused our attention.
Magellan + Tonic.
I went for the Magellan and tonic, per Emil's recommendation.  It was a bit strange that it came with strawberries in it.

It was also massive. I don't remember much else about it though.  I think it was fine?

Food

The menu was fairly large, with 15 starters, 7 meat and 7 seafood mains, and two vegetarian items.  The mains all came as composed dishes with several sides.  The menu was in both Portuguese and English, making it easy for us to navigate.  I was amused by the children's menu, it consisted of exactly one thing: a set meal, a hamburger and chocolate mousse.
Bread and Dips.
The bread service was the highlight of the meal.

We each had individual bread plates, onto which 3 different types (sourdough, wheat, seeded) of sliced bread were placed by servers.  All were a bit ... soggy?  The bread really was not good at all.  The slices were replenished constantly if you finished, a hazard particularly if you didn't like it.  We were each also given our own bowls of butter.  It was ... butter.

So far, not particularly exciting.

But in the middle of each group of people they brought a bowl of crisps and a little bowl of herb spread.  The crisps were actually pretty tasty, super crispy, salty, buttery.  Good enough on their own, but magic with the herb spread.  It was a fresh, small curd cheese, that reminded me a bit of ricotta.  It was creamy and loaded with herbs.  Really tasty.

Unlike the sliced bread, our crisps were never replenished, and the bowl, once it went empty, was simply removed.  Same with our way-too-small ration of the herb dip.  I was glad the others didn't originally realize how delicious this stuff was, and I got my fill, although, once he tried it, Ojan declared, "I'll just eat this for dinner", which inspired some others to finally try it.  Everyone agreed the crisps, and dip, were delicious.

The crisps and herb dip were by far the tastiest part of the meal.
Starter: Terrina de Foie-Gras com Pera bêbada, nozes e redução de vinho do Porto. €14.
"Foie Gras Terrine with ‘drunk’ pear, nuts and port wine."

For my starter, I went straight for the foie gras.  It had been a while since I had foie gras.

The plating of this was probably the best of the night, a bit artful.

The foie had a good enough flavor, but, it was strangely spongy, if that makes any sense.  Emil said it had too much iron in it.  The nuts were a crumble on top, crunchy, decent texture, but a bit gritty with the smooth terrine.

Pears were cubes arranged in a few piles, and I think part of the port sauce, as it seemed kinda like apple sauce, just, slightly port flavored, and I imagine that was actually pear, not apple.

And that was the dish.  It was not served with any bread or crostini, just the chunk of terrine.  I used the crisps from the bread course, and was happy enough, but if I hadn't saved those, I would have been a bit annoyed without something to spread the foie on.

It also was really missing a sweet element.  The pear cubes and pear sauce weren't really sweet, and foie really needs something sweet to cut it.

So overall, meh.  Strange texture, incomplete pairing.
Starter:Vieiras com creme de milho e pimenta rosa. €13.50.
"Scallops with corn cream and rose pepper."

The scallops were listed as a starter, but, I wanted a lighter meal and still three courses like everyone else, so I opted to have a second starter as my main.  Others ordered this as their real starters, so, I got to scope it out before receiving my own, although they gave it mixed reviews.

This dish certainly had my name all over it.  I adore scallops, and creamed corn is perfect comfort food.  The bacon bits on top were unexpected, but, crunchy, salty, bacon is never a bad thing.

I took a bite, and immediately understood the mixed reviews.  This dish was ... highly mediocre.  The scallops were very small, and had absolutely no sear on them.  They weren't overcooked necessarily (although not mid-rare as I'd prefer), and they weren't rubbery, but, they were lackluster.

The corn cream was ... cold.  It had a decent flavor, but wasn't really as creamy as anticipated, more like corn puree.

The dish was very salty.  Not in a bad way, but, salty it was.

So, overall, just mediocre.  Not awful, but not good.
Main: Bochechas de porco confitadas, pure de batata e misto de legumes salteadaos. €19.
"Confit pork cheeks, mashed potatoes, and sauteed vegetables."

Well, they don't win any plating awards here.  A jumble on the plate.

This was Ojan's main dish, and he liked his choice.  He took a few bites, and said, "This is pretty good".  A few minutes later he followed up with "I actually really like this."  So of course I had to try it too.  I wasn't as thrilled.

The mashed potato was ok.  Nothing particularly good nor bad about it.  The pork cheeks were a bit too fatty for me.  I really didn't like the gravy, it had a strange flavor, but, Ojan did like it.

The veggies were a mix of cubed zucchini and chestnuts.  Kinda random.  Tons of chestnuts.  Since I like chestnuts, I was excited by that part.

Several others ordered steak.  They were all unhappy, as every single order was overcooked.  One diner exclaimed, "That is not a medium rare steak!", while another said, "I'd be chastising myself if I cooked this."
Dessert: Pudim do Abade de Priscos. €6.00.
" 'Abade de Priscos' Caramel Pudding"

For dessert, I picked the 'Abade de Priscos' , or, caramel pudding.

It was not what I was expecting, more like a slice of flan than what I think of as a pudding.  But I like flan, so I was still excited about it.  Plating-wise, there was nothing here, just, a slice of pudding-flan.  No garnish at all.

It was sweet and firm, but very, very eggy.  Far too eggy for my taste.  I didn't like this.

I also tried a bite of the apple crumble with vanilla sauce, it was much better.  Nice crumble, lots of tasty cream sauce.  I'd even classify that one as good!
Largo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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