Restaurant Review: Cervejaria Liberdade, Lisbon in Portugal
If, like me, the way to your heart is through seafood, then a trip to Lisbon is essential. From the small, working mens’ cafes to the barbequed sardines on street stalls, I didn’t have one bad fish dish throughout my whole trip.
There was, however, one stand-out meal at Cervejaria Liberdade, which will stick with me for a long time. Cervejaria Liberdade is part of the Tivoli Avenida hotel in central Lisbon; a grand hotel situated on Lisbon’s equivalent of the Champs Elysee.
The hotel caters for a whole host of occasions: they have the swanky Sky Bar, which perches on the rooftop, the lobby bar, which serves up snacks/small meals and the restaurant, Cervejaria Liberdade.
My boyfriend Rhys and I headed down to the hotel in June for a night of seafood and cocktails, which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is an ideal night out for most holidaymakers.
On the evening we visited, the sun was still warm and the sky still crystal clear, so we couldn’t resist a sundowner drink in the stylish Sky Bar. There you’ll find a totally different vibe to the restaurant; it’s relaxed but also glamorous, buzzing with young, trendy tourists.
One month on I still have very fond memories of sipping a delicious Gin Mare gin and tonic whilst taking in the sunset. I’d also highly recommend their deliciously creamy espresso martini.
The mood in the restaurant downstairs is very different to both the Sky Bar and hotel. Tivoli Avenida is an upmarket, sleek hotel and yet the restaurant has a casual feel to it.
The waiters are all local and not like the slick, suited and booted service staff you might find in other restaurants. Much like the vibe, the food is also refreshingly simple. You won’t find many fancy dishes, because the chef lets the fresh, high-quality ingredients sing.
For starters we shared the spider crab shell and pan-fried garlic prawns. Each dish was stunning. The crab was creamy with huge amounts of flavour, thanks to the parsley and tarragon.
Our waiter said the plate is typically shared between four but, to be honest, I could have devoured the whole portion myself. The king prawns were meaty and cooked to perfection: they weren’t overly oily, and the garlic twang wasn’t too strong.
For my main course I tried the whole grilled sole, which was simply sublime-it was chunky and flaked off the bone beautifully. Keeping it simple, the chef chose to serve it with a bouquet of buttery, wilted spinach, fluffy mash potato and a big wedge of lemon.
In my opinion you could give me a fancy plate of flavours and textures, but it wouldn’t beat a simple plate of great ingredients.
Slightly more adventurous was Rhys’ golden John Dory fish fillets served with tomato rice. The fish was lightly battered in a tempura style and the rice made a pleasant change from the usual sides served with fish. Safe to say we polished off every mouthful.
Throughout dinner, we shared a bottle of Quinta do Carmo, a silky, buttery wine which complimented the seafood beautifully. I’ve left Portugal with a new-found love of their wines.
And just when I thought our evening couldn’t get any better, dessert was served. A ‘Lisbon duo of rice pudding and crème brûlée, which, in layman’s terms, was a lasagne-style pudding with several layers of both sweets.
My friends will tell you I am partial to exaggerating, but on this occasion, I’m being totally honest when I say it was the best dessert I have ever had. On paper it doesn’t sound like it works, but it really, REALLY did.
The brûlée was sweet, creamy, crunchy and smooth all in the same mouthful. The thick layers of rice pudding had a warm cinnamon flavour, which contrasted beautifully. They say in life you shouldn’t have regrets, but we foolishly chose to share a portion and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself.
As well as serving stunning food, it’s worth noting the hotel’s interior is equally as stunning. The art-deco style hotel lobby took us a few moments to admire; it’s grand and plush with floor-to-ceiling blue velvet curtains and matte gold gratings-a setting worthy of a post-dinner coffee.
In short, this hotel offers a lot. If you want sundowner drinks on Lisbon’s most stylish rooftop, head to Sky Bar. If you want to try upmarket, yet traditional Portuguese food, I cannot recommend Cervejaria Liberdade enough.
If you want to see me in my element, scan your eyes over the dining area, I’ll probably be there scoffing another crème brûlée/rice pudding delight.
Address: Tivoli Avenida Liberdade, 185, Avenida da Liberdade, Lisboa, 1269-050, Portugal
Phone: +351 21 319 8620