Tasca da Esquina
After Ben surprised me on our wedding day with an outrageously sweet serenade of "My Girl", I kind of felt like I owed him one on our honeymoon. I felt that publicly serenading him on the plane may be a little less Wedding Singer-style success and a little more, "lady, please sit back down in your seat and refrain from whatever it is you're trying to do". So I thought I'd stick with what I knew best to treat Ben. Feeding him.After a little research online into deliciousness, I booked us a table at Tasca da Esquina for our first night in Lisbon. I really felt like I'd tapped into a local gem once we'd taken our seats and glanced over the menu. I may or may not have cheers'd myself when we were poured the first of many sleek drops. I knew I had done good. And I didn't even have to sing.
The atmosphere at Tasca da Esquina is clean, classy and chilled, with a few jazzed up elements here and there. The waiters are all very friendly and much cooler than I, working their long khaki aprons and crisp shirts like it was nobody's business. They were also super accommodating to our language barrier. In fact we participated in a little food translation exercise, which I loved. Compared to other European cities Lisbon is not overflowing with tourists, and although most young people spoke very good English, I think Ben and I were somewhat of a novelty.
We participated in a seven course feast of small, exciting, colourful plates. After the fourth course we shared our serves, as suggested by our waiter. It was a truly great meal. And although I'm very aware that I will never be able to match the brilliance of Ben's surprise serenade, I feel I came kind of close with some crazy good tuna and pork with mushrooms.
Let's starts at the beginning...
with cheese, olives and bread, naturally.
Over the course of the night, Ben and I tasted many Portuguese wines, and enjoyed every drop.
Chilled melon soup, a lovely way to start the meal. I would never think to make this at home, ever, so it was a real treat. Summer in a bowl, if you will.
Crab salad with homemade crispbread. Lovely.
Little crisp prawn dumplings with a stunning herb drizzle.
Eggy noodles (essentially fried omelette strips) in a rich, buttery sauce. Ultimate comfort food.
Tuna steak with broad beans. Broad beans are a favourite ingredient of mine, and so I was thrilled when these beauties showed up. This dish was pure divinity, everything about it was stellar.
Pork belly with sautéed mushrooms. These mushrooms were absurdly good. Yes, it was absolutely absurd how delicious they were. Usually I'm not a huge fan of pork belly, due to that imposing fat layer inhibiting my personal enjoyment of the meat. But this piece was cooked perfectly, and that fat layer slid right off allowing me to dive into the meat unabashedly.
Cheese with candied walnut crumbles and pumpkin jam. We were getting a little/a lot full at this point, so we only picked at this sweet little plate. I love the idea of a pumpkin jam, although the flavour was a little too subtle for my liking.
And to finish, a little dessert trio: chocolate mousse, creme brûlée and almond foam. A nice sweet bite to end a beautiful meal. I particularly enjoyed the foam (and usually I'm not that impressed with foam - come on people, enough with the foam). But yes, this was a lovely foam, I must admit. Anything almond I tend to adore.
I very much recommend visiting Tasca da Esquina for a meal when in Lisbon. It's a little bit fancy and more modern than your traditional fare, and it's darn delicious. And you won't have to sing on any aeroplanes to impress your love.