I’ll start by saying that I’ve surrendered to my discovery of the Lisbon restaurant Rota das Sedas (The Silk Route). The name revives the local history, for situated in that area was the Real Fábrica das Sedas (Royal Silk Factory) until mid-century XIX, a fact that is highlighted by the various advertisement on this gastronomic corner. But for those who used to pass by Rua da Escola Politécnica almost daily for two years, 23 years ago, it is hard not to feel comfort from the new life blooming there. Decaying buildings remodelled, while still taking the original prints into consideration, strangely make the past a bit more current, as if new life had been given to the place. But let’s return to the restaurant per se.
The entrance is through and old, wooden stairway, on the top of which there’s some decoration which warns of our entrance in the domain of Chef Nuno Diniz. After that though, it looks as if you’re simply walking into a regular household, only that we’re guided through to a truly magnificent terrace which leads to a garden of such dimensions that it could not be fully appreciated at night. You can tell that the décor has been thought of to the detail and it’s worth mentioning the house decorator and one of the proprietors Teresa Arriaga. A décor evocative of Lisbon where an enormous picture of an electric tram passing in front of Medieval Sé de Lisboa stands out. Still on the ambient and surroundings I cannot help but notice the exquisite over-the-top selection of background music. On the other hand, the service is of the kind that I enjoy, that is, sober, respectful of the costumer without fawning or adulation, with appropriate and objective information and no add ups.
Finally we move on to the food. The menu is an agglomerate of those especially Lisbon Portuguese dishes and that is the unchangeable focus. But given the variety of such a cuisine, one has a lot to choose from. I’ve decided to take a risk: I order the Polvo à Lagareiro (octopus in olive oil), not because I’m a big octopus fan but precisely the opposite. And behold, I am in fact surprised with Chef Nuno Diniz. He seems to have previously understood that I wasn’t fond of the dish and resolved to contradict me and the result was brilliant, especially in areas where it could have been bitter, he compensated with something sweet. He also uses various vegetables unknown to me but completely appropriate. My companion asks for the Bitoque à Lisboa, she said and I quote: “very good, the meat is tender and succulent, delicious sauce, fries on the spot. A very harmonious ensemble”.
Moving on to desert. Not having fully recovered from the octopus’s pleasant surprise, I decided on the plain strawberries which were of unquestionable quality. It was still possible to try the Arriaga style chocolate cake though, which includes not only chocolate but also strawberry ice cream and various fruits, especially strawberries which I vividly suggest. In fact, the desert’s name certainly evokes Teresa Arriaga who must’ve had a say in its conception. Finally all that’s left is the price: 51 euros for 2 people. Having considered all the aspects involved I cannot say it was expensive. In here also I’ve felt respect towards the costumer.