We got lost in the old Alfama neighborhood on the way to a new restaurant called “Os Gazeteiros.” It is difficult paying attention to where we’re going when there’s so much to appreciate: quaint streets, beautiful tiles, ornate doors and ancient windows. GPS systems are befuddled by the confusing street names and the locals give conflicting directions. It is all so that Alfama can keep its secrets.
We called the restaurant to apologize for being late and we were reassured in a charming French accent that this was not a problem. When we arrived, we learned that we had spoken with the chef, David Eyguesier.
David explained that lunch was a three-course fixed menu inspired by seasonal, organic products. He then retreated to the kitchen that overlooks the small dining room to work on our meal.
A fragrant aroma preceded the arrival of the first course: a vegetable rice cooked with garlic confit, accompanied by slivers of black pork sausage, baby watercress, and an arugula ice cream. The flavors were delicate, the combination harmonious and inventive.
We asked David where he learned how to cook. “The name of the restaurant is the answer,” David replied smiling. “Gazeteiros are students who skip school to have fun. I’ve never been to culinary school. It’s ironic that the restaurant is located on Rua das Escolas Gerais (General Schools street).”
“So, how did you end up opening a restaurant in Alfama?” we asked, curious. “I fell in love with a woman who brought me to Lisbon,” he confided. “I always cooked for friends and I was inspired by the quality of the Portuguese produce. There are amazing products that sell for a fraction of what they would cost in Paris. Opening a restaurant to cook with these ingredients was a natural idea.”
David returned to the kitchen and we sat back enjoying the sight of the colorful trams that pass periodically right by the restaurant.
The second course was a culinary poem composed of seared sea bream, radishes pickled in cider vinegar, noori and fish broth.
The dessert was a sumptuous trio of pears marinated in ginger syrup, a walnut crumble, and a cream of “requeijão” infused with vanilla, verbena and thyme.
Alfama has a new secret: a restaurant run by a culinary poet. Reserve a table before the word gets out.
Os Gazeteiros is on Rua das Escolas Gerais, 114-116, Lisbon, tel. 218-860-399, 939-501-211