Thursday, May 8, 2014

100 Maneiras: Cuisine Gastronomique in Lisbon

Young and talented Bosnian born owner-chef Ljubomir Stanisic of Restaurant 100 Maneiras in Bairro Alto focuses on everything a good cook should: exceptional produce, creative cuisine, considerable talent and an untethered imagination. One of Lisbon’s top-rated restaurants, 100 Maneiras —100 ways of preparation in Portuguese — has no menu, just a 10-course Menu Degustação, a tasting menu that changes daily and features creative, delicately prepared dishes paired with an inspired selection of classic Portuguese wines, handpicked by savvy sommelier Pedro Martin. The courses are all a surprise, which is much of the allure, although the chef will take special diets and food allergies into consideration. 100 Maneiras is a small, elegant romantic restaurant with an intimate ambiance, almost like eating at a dear friend’s house, who just happens to be one of the most interesting chefs with one of the tastiest cuisines in Lisbon. Not surprising, reservations are essential — we booked a month prior to arriving in Lisbon to sample Chef Stanisic's ethereal Menu Degustação.

Bosnian born owner-chef Ljubomir Stanisic of Restaurant 100 Maneiras in Bairro Alto
is hailed as one of the most respected chefs in Portugal

The small elegant dining room of 100 Maneiras seats only 30 people

We started with a glass of sparking Portuguese wine

Olive oil with balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme

Fresh warm house made focaccia and bread rolls arrive in a burlap bag

House made focaccia with olive oil

The first course of the evening, and perhaps the restaurant's most famous dish, was Codfish Clothesline, which draws inspiration from the way traditional Lisboetas hang their clothes out to dry. Slices of dried codfish are pegged onto a tiny clothesline and served with a homemade coriander aioli and red pepper coulis. Light, crisp and delicate, the dish had a subtle codfish flavour that was delicious as it was unique — a brilliant start to our evening's culinary adventure.

Codfish Clothesline: Dehydrated codfish with coriander aioli and red pepper coulis

The first wine of the evening was a 2011 Quinta da Gandara and was served with the Codfish Clothesline and the next dish, Soil & Sea

The next course was Soil & Sea, a beautifully presented seafood dish consisting of steamed scallops, octopus and clams served with cinnamon and onion pureé on a bed of corn bread powder served on top of a polished black stone. A garnish of coriander foam was the finishing touch on this wonderfully refreshing and spectacular starter that truly tasted like the sea.

Soil & Sea: Seared scallop, onion purée, octopus and clams on a cornbread crumble

The third course, playfully named Playbunnie, was a marinated rabbit terrine topped with pickled garden vegetables and garnished with black sausage dust. Moist and delicate, the rabbit was balanced with the pickled carrot for a "Bugs Bunny-Roger Rabbit inspired dish. When it tastes this good, a sense of humour just adds to the enjoyment of every bite.

'Playbunnie': Marinated rabbit with pickled vegetables from the garden and garnished with black sausage dust

The fourth course was a rich full-flavoured Foie Gras Bombom garnished with dehydrated black olives and finished with a drizzle of sweet chili, ginger and lemon thyme syrup. The wine pairing with the foie gras was a five-year aged Malmsey Madeira. The sweetness of the wine was gorgeous with the dish.

Foie Gras Bombom garnished with dehydrated black olives and blood sausage dust and finished with a drizzle of sweet chili, ginger and lemon thyme syrup

A 5-year old Malmsey Madeira wine was the wine pairing with the foie gras

The sweet fortified Madeira was a delicious wine pairing with the foie gras

The fifth course was Steamed Sea Bass with wild red rice and fish roe topped with crisp Asian rice noodles and finished with a bright green coriander and garlic broth. Bold and colourful, the dish was in fact very delicate, with the light broth bathing the fish with a fresh and fragrant sauce that enhanced the dish rather than overpowering it.

Steamed Sea Bass with coriander and garlic broth

A third bottle of white wine was paired with the Sea Bass

More full bodied than the first white wine, this was delicious with the fish

A palate cleanser of Chestnut and Lime Iced Cream with grapefruit foam and dehydrated eucalyptus dust that was flambéed before arriving at the table

The next course was Cabrito do Jogo do Galo, a whimsical 'Noughts and Crosses Goatling' dish of kid (young goat) in crepinette (a small flat sausage-shaped parcel) with mushroom purée and lemon gnocchis. The dish was as delicious as it was lovely to admire. The goat crepinette was wonderfully tender, and delicious with the pillowy soft gnocchi and mushroom purée and trio of dried mushroom wafer 'markers' perched on the dye of the plate. The wine pairing for this meat dish was a Tempera Tinto Roriz 2010, a Portuguese wine similar to a Spanish Tempranillo.

'Noughts and Crosses Goatling' with mushroom purée and lemon gnocchi

The goat dish was paired with a Tempera Tinto Roriz 2010

Similar to a Spanish Tempranillo, the wind was ruby red and deeply flavoured 

The following dish, the first of two desserts, was a Red Wine Lollipop made from a spiced red wine reduction and nougat, and presented on a painted wooden sardine. The second dessert and final course of the tasting menu were two puddings set in a ceramic wooden log. The first pudding was a Pastel de Nata,  inspired by the famous Portuguese custard pastry, and the second pudding, a Faux-Cheesecake Pudding drizzled with cherry coulis, that was made without using any cheese. 

Red Wine Lollipops

The final wine pairing was with our dessert, a Moscatel Roxo from Setubal in Portugal

The Moscatel was soft and elegant with a delicate aroma and flavours of dried figs, apricots, litchis and nuts

The final dessert, a pair of puddings set in a ceramic log

Pastel de Nata, inspired by Lisbon's famous custard tart

The chef's version of cheesecake without using any cheese

A hot frothy Macchiato

And one short espresso to finish the evening

The meal was exquisite. Perfectly choreographed gastronomic theatre which had us on the edge of our seats, savouring every word, sight and nuance of the dishes as they were brought to our table and described in such mouth-watering detail. And for the quality, and the scope of the meal, the price was incredibly good value — one of the best meals we enjoyed in Lisbon.