Many a times have we walked past “Restaurante Chimera”, a stone’s throw away from Cinema de São Jorge and just as many a times have we looked at the menu and thought, “one day we must go there ‘cause this looks amazing”. It was a matter of sheer intuition, from the cozy interior to the interesting, seasonal menu combinations, we kind of had the feeling that this could be something. And oh boy, when we finally went there last Friday night, we did not leave disappointed.
“Chimera” derives its name from a fictional animal from Greek mythology which consisted of several parts of different animals which also comes back in the beautiful restaurant’s logo, consisting of a rooster with back hoofs and an extra buck’s head for good measure. Wikipedia can tell you more about this beautiful creature. Maybe it’s just an eye wink to the culinary genius of Heston Blumenthal who once tried to recreate this mythical beast for edible purposes in one of his tv series; or it’s a reference to all of the beautiful meat that they know how to cook to absolute perfection.
In the conception of the menu, “Chimera” feels very upmarket: the menu description consists of nothing but the main ingredient of the dish and then a short list of some other ingredients included as well, not giving too much away about what the actual, finished dish might look or taste like. A good example in case was the cauliflower soup which consisted of the description “cauliflower, cauliflower, cauliflower”. And very cauliflower-y it was too, an amazingly creamy soup full of flavour with a couple of scrumptious, soft textured deep fried pieces of cauliflower floating in the middle. It is so simple but done so well, it’s actually quite spectacular and it was a truly memorable soup.
In the course of a meal, we had the most succulent, crispy skinned pork belly, beautifully cooked, juicy quail with some delicious broad bean puree and a tender piece of wild boar with red cabbage and orange sauce. Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the wintery combination of meat and fruit (the pork belly and the apple sauce, the slice of mandarin in combination with the wild boar) but that’s more due to my personal childhood trauma of having sweet fruit in combination with meat more than anything.
Another thing which makes “Chimera” so unusual in Lisbon’s current day restaurant scene is its extreme seasonality: they change their menu about once every week. Not only that, but prices are very accessible too: at 15 euro’s for 3 smaller dishes (you can choose anything from starters, main dishes or desserts) or 28 euro’s for 7 dishes (which fits perfectly into the stomach of two hungry people), there’s really not much too complain about. Plus, they even produce their own beer. Getting seasonal food at accessible prices combined with some proper home made beer, what’s not to like?
“Chimera” is owned by Adam Heller from North-America and Thomas Mancini from Brazil and opened its doors in January 2015, about a year ago and we certainly hope it’s gonna be opened for a long time to come still. There was very little to criticize about the meal, even though we weren’t too fond of our mushroom pastry with pear and tomato nor of the pancake which didn’t sing as much as the rest of the dishes. That said, the cookie I had in combination with the salty caramel sauce, vanilla custard and meringue was sheer irresistible temptation. Combined with the smooth service and interesting wine selections, it all added up to probably one of our best restaurant experiences in Lisbon so far and a place we’ll be happy to visit again and again as seasons, fruits and vegetables availabilities change.
The thing is, “Chimera” has it all, from an owner who turns over the most moody jazz records to the beautiful painted interior and the clever ceiling with upside down empty fruit crates. There’s a big heart painted on the wall next to the bar and you can taste it beating here on every plate.
(Nout Van Den Neste)
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 20h00-23h00
Address: Rua do Salitre 131B – 1250-198 – Lisboa
Phone Number: +351 918 717 050