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Restaurant Profile- Sacramento – Lisbon, Portugal

sacramento.jpgTo be honest, we never planned on eating at Sacramento. Having walked past it earlier in the day as we were leisurely meandering through Lisbon enjoying a relaxing Sunday, we had seen the brightly colored windows far different in both style and feeling than its adjoining neighbors. Strips of varying hues of red marked the top of the window, with delicate and ornate bottles of gourmet Portuguese products sat at varying heights behind the glass. Upon closer inspection through the front door, you see a long and sultry looking entryway, creating an ambiance that has a strange but inviting tone of both order and chaos. Traditional Portuguese architecture complimented with deep red and brown walls changing in hues one side of the room to the other, spotted with random spiritual artifacts such as African masks and Hindi Gods, and ending with an industrial brown flooring more appropriate for a diner than a hip restaurant, this place was complete eye candy!

Having had our dinner plans canceled, we decided to stroll in for a quick bite before heading back to hotel. However, as most foodies can attest to, it is difficult to merely experience a quick bite when a menu entices you and the service is strangely “friendly” a far different experience than we’re used to in Spain. Although we have to admit that throughout our stay in Portugal, it was rare to find poor service. Even before someone discovered our hidden identities as bloggers, we were treated with the utmost respect and always greeted with a warm and inviting smile. To us, there is nothing more delicious than a knowledgeable server who is willing to give you a memorable experience.

We finally settled upon two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts and a small sampling of four different wines after much debate. Our first wine was a wine of nostalgia from of our trip to Portugal not four years ago when we tried Taylor Fladgate’s Chip Dry for the first time in the Taylor’s Port House. It’s a great Port, and one that we’ve suggested on several occasions. Our aperitif was followed by prawns sauteed in olive oil and garlic and seasoned with cilantro and lemon, alongside a plate of four different Portuguese cheeses. One of our absolute favorite cheeses, is the Serra da Estrela from the northern Dao region. A heavy goat cheese that you literally spoon out from the inside of the rind and spread on your baguette like you would a creamy butter, it’s probably Portugal’s most famous cheese and a true cheese lover’s holy grail. Rich and decadent, it pairs with both red and richer white wines and lingers on the palate for what seems like forever. We’re addicted.

defesa.jpgThe shrimp came in a traditional Portuguese, small, round, clay dish, drowning in rich garlic infused olive oil. Each shrimp was slightly seared, lending to a delicate caramel note with every bite, while the zing of acidity from a squeeze of lemon left us fighting over the last one. The 2006 Vinha da Defesa from Herdade do Esporao, cut right through the rich and dense flavor of the shrimp with its nice acidity and light tropical fruit flavors. It paired beautifully with seafood.

While finishing our appetizers and waiting for our entrees, we were given a glass of Casa de Santar 2006 from Adegas de Santar. A blend of three different native white grapes from the Dao region: encruzado, cerceal branco and bical, the wine had a wonderful musty, cinnamon nose but lacked slightly on the palate. This was by far our least favorite wine, but one that we hope we have the opportunity to try again against other whites from the Dao.

Yet, even though the wine that proceeded our meal didn’t meet our Top 10 list, the entree we ordered was dead on. Living in Spain, tartar is difficult to come by, because Spaniards typically prefer to cook their meat into submission achieving a more leathery and dry consistency. Desiring our meat with more flavor and less flame, Gabriella eagerly chose the tuna tartar, while Ryan chose its beef counterpart. Doing what couples do best, upon receiving our entree, we sneaked a little bite from each other’s plate, concluding that we each made the absolute correct choice for ourselves. Although Gabriella loved Ryan’s beef tartar that he makes at home, she didn’t like the taste of it at the restaurant. She found the texture too similar to the reality, gooey and mushy, feeling safer and more at ease with the notion that the tuna in front of her was both healthier and more appetizing. Maybe not the best logic in the world, but it put her conscious at ease. Both dishes were paired with one of our favorite Vinho Verdes, Palacio da Breijoeira 2005. A bright and well structured wine with a beautiful bouquet of fennel, anise, green herbs and pineapple. We couldn’t have been more pleased.

And finally, our third course: lime mousse and a bready almond cake with a thick layer of caramel spread judiciously over the top. Sadly, Ryan didn’t enjoy his lime mousse. He felt that it was too rich and lost interest after the third bite, preferring to enjoy his coffee instead. Whereas, Gabriella polished off her caramel almond tart, a very rich and decadent desert that was no match for a sweet tooth like hers.

Our overall impression of the restaurant is honestly quite good. If we could change two things, we would have liked the portions to have been slightly smaller and for the wine menu to have been reasonable. We ended the meal with 2 small glasses of Tawny Port and were charged 10 euros for what amounted to an 8 dollar bottle of Port wine. Upon scrutinizing the wine menu further, we noticed that the Vinho Verde we had had at lunch was 6 euros more a bottle. Thus, if the wine list was to swing into line with the excellent service, we might be more inclined to return. Restaurants needs to know that they will sell more wine if they sell it for reasonable prices.

Sacramento
Calcada do Sacramento
nº40 a 46,
Baixa Chiado, Lisbon

Lunch: Monday-Friday from 12:00pm to 3pm
Dinner: Everyday from 6:30pm to midnight
Telephone: +00 351 21 342 05 72

Can make reservations online at: www.sacramentodochiado.com

Cheers,

Gabriella and Ryan

Gabriella’s Tasting Notes
Chip Dry
Dessert, Sherry & Port produced by Taylor Fladgate in Douro, Portugal
Note: 100% Malvesia from the Douro. Fantastic rich buttery white port with light notes of vanilla and almonds. Wonderful served chilled as an aperitif.
Food pairing: Aperitif
Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Vinha da Defesa 2006
White wine produced by Herdade do Esporão in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: Tasted this wine during a dinner at Sacramento in Lisbon. Blend of Arinto / Roupeiro / Antão Vaz. Flowery nose with additional aromas of peach and celery. Flavors of pineapple, apricot and minerals with bright acidity evolving into a nice long silky finish.
Food pairing: Sauteed shrimp in a garlic and olive oil seasoned with cilantro and lemon, and a 5 Cheese Platter
Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 4, 2007)

Casa de Santar 2006
White wine produced by Sociedade Agricola de Santar S.A. in , Portugal
Note: Tasted wine at Sacramento in Lisbon. Encruzado/Cerceal Branco/Bical
Incredible nose with aromas of musty basement, cinnamon and perfume. Light and refreshing on the palate with flavors of passionfruit and guava, but sadly become hollow and diluted near the finish. Great nose, but the palate just doesn’t match up.
Food pairing: Sauteed shrimp in a garlic and olive oil seasoned with cilantro and lemon, and a 5 Cheese Platter
Rating: 2 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 4, 2007)

Palacio da Breijoeira 2005
White wine produced by Palacio da Breijoeira in Vinho Verde, Portugal
Note: Tasted at Sacramento in Lisbon. 100% Alvarihno. Fantastic wine with aromas of fennel, anise, green herbs, and pineapple. Bright acidity from beginning to end. Flavors of ripe pear, flowery perfume and white rose.
Food pairing: Tuna Tartar
Rating: 5 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 4, 2007)

Ryan’s Tasting Notes

Chip Dry
Dessert, Sherry & Port produced by Taylor Fladgate in Douro, Portugal
Note: Bright Golden Color, with a frangelico nose, and light pear, apricot with musty floor. Starts sweet with a nice heat and ends with a slightly bitter finish. Flavors are towards apricot and pear. 4.5/5
Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Vinha da Defesa 2006
White wine produced by Herdade do Esporão in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: Flowery nose with that had hints of celery and wet minerals. Very dry overall with a underipe pineapple quality, honey dew, and a very quick finish.
Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 3, 2007)

Casa de Santar 2006
White wine produced by Sociedade Agricola de Santar S.A. in , Portugal
Note: Nose shows passion fruit, cinnamon, and is quite perfumery. Very light in the mouth with moscato notes, and and a hollow simple finish. Simple and very delicate with a gravely sweet-tart finish. 2.5/5
Rating: 2 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Palacio da Breijoeira 2005
White wine produced by Palacio da Breijoeira in Vinho Verde, Portugal
Note: The nose on this wine is both fun and alive with hints of Fennel, pineapple heart, and pears. Floral and complex. The palate sees a medium to high acidity with tinny bosc pear, lemon zest, and white flowers. Acidity is soft and very enjoyable. 4.5/5
Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)