Modern. Subtle. Intriguing.
Kudos to Chef Joachim Koerper for putting together an excellent tasting menu for me and my friends!!! It was definitely a great gastronomic experience from start to finish. Before I give you a visual run-down of what took place on our tables that night, allow me to share with you a few things about the whole experience.
Modern-sophistication is the general impression I got as soon as we walked in to the restaurant. The wine wall boasts of a fine collection of Port and Douro wines, as well as other wines sourced from different parts of the world. Opposite to the wine wall is a characteristic yet elegantly appointed seating area where guests can wait for company to arrive, or simply lounge while waiting to be seated in the restaurant.
The Wine Wall
The dim lighting and candle-lit tables set the mood for an intimate dining experience. We were seated by the glass, with a partial view of the garden and the city at night. There wasn’t much citylights to see as the restaurant is not directly sitting on the cliff facing the city, but the serenity of the area gives way to a beautiful experience. It was probably the best seat I could imagine, offering a significant amount of light, yet private enough to accommodate intimate conversation across the table… until a boisterous party of 12 locals occupied the next table, of course that became a different story.
The service was superb. I wouldn’t say it is the best, but the staff made sure we were comfortable and attended to. They really entertained our questions as best they could, some even absurd questions where they ended up having to spell it out on paper for us. There is definitely an area to improve in terms of ability to communicate in English(for some of the staff), but as we were not in an English-speaking country anyway, I could easily let this pass and focus on the better part of the whole experience.
As we entered into the foyer/parlour, we were greeted by a certain sense of formality yet lacking the finesse that is expected of a Michelin-starred restaurant. I am not sure if it is just ignorance on my part but I slightly felt a sense of awkwardness as we entered the restaurant. I am not sure if it was the fact that we arrived slightly after another group of guests or that that they were not expecting us to arrive on time, but it did feel as though there was some tension in the air.
Fast forward to the degustation part, we decided to go for the tasting menu consisting of 9-courses, pre-selected by Chef Joachim Koerper himself. There was an option to choose between duck and lamb for the main course, but everything else is already pre-designed.
One thing to remember when you go to Eleven, this is not a typical Portuguese restaurant. If you are looking for a local traditional Portuguese dinner, this is definitely not the place to go. Eleven takes pride in its modern take on Portuguese dining, with more emphasis on sophistication rather than tradition.
Let me allow the photos to speak for themselves… 9 course of pure gastronomic delight to tickle your senses…coming right up!!! Note: this is a photo-heavy post… and please don’t scroll down if you are hungry… you have been warned!
Starting off with an Amuse Bouche to cleanse the palate.
And a starter compliments from the Chef
And finally the first course consist of Foie Gras Canneloni with figs and ginger chutney, with a side of chocolate financier. Those mini chocolate cakes drown out the strong liver taste in the foie gras, making it so delightfully edible for someone like me! They knew they were so good that they actually put a second helping on a separate dish for us to share – how generous!
On to the second course, I was actually torn between the cream soup and the consomme. As the waiter suggested, I went for the cream soup… and I did not regret a single bit!
Salsify Cream Soup with Truffles and Truffle Brioche
Our third course was a free-hand seafood dish, giving the chef some room for creativity. It is called the Chef’s Choice, which is grouper fried in special olive oil and served with a medley of stir-fried vegetables. It was heavenly!!!
Chef's Choice of Today's Catch: Grouper with a Medley of Vegetables to tease your palate
The fourth course is my favorite of all the dishes – hands down! It is a fusion of Italian, Japanese and Portuguese cuisine, myticulously blended together to create an amazing “risotto”!
Wasabi "risotto" with crawfish and mussels emulsion
On to the fifth, a palate cleanser made from mango sorbet, swimming in cava blanc! Awesome, experimental and it totally pulled off in preparing our taste buds for the main course!
Mango Sorbet in Cava Blanc
And finally the main course, a beautifully grilled lamb carre with chorizo from Alentejo crust, creamy polenta and stewed beans cassoulet. The lovely combination of lamb, cooked to perfection, infused with the characteristic taste of chorizo, totally altered my love-hate relationship with lamb.
The Entree: Lamb cooked with Chorizo Alentejo
Post entree, we were treated to a selection of cheeses from all over the world. Of course, we chose the Portuguese cheeses and I have to say this – they were amazing! The pumpkin jam that came with the cheese plate, however, stole the spotlight! That was some mean pumpkin jam – I’ve never had it in my whole life until then!
Selection of Cheeses from All over the World!
Pre-dessert, we were treated to an interesting plate of semi-sweet fruity treats in anticipation of the joy that will end our meal!
Pre-dessert of Madeleins, chocolate roulade and passion fruit mousse
And finally, my most awaited part of every meal – the exclusive Eleven Dessert Plate.
The Eleven Dessert Plate
Not too fast, it’s not only the Italians who end their meal with coffee or grappa, the Portuguese do too! Mignardises, or what the French call as Petit Fours, were served – the best way to end the night with my decaffinato espresso!
Oh, and did I mention they have quite an extensive wine list?
I would definitely give this place 3 out of 5 stars for the whole experience. The food was fantastic. Every single bite takes you on a different high and the flavors were so subtle yet sat so well on the palate. Service was well-paced so that we were not rushing to finish each course, yet fast enough that we didn’t end up having to wait too long for the next one. However, I do feel that the tasting menu was a little bit too expensive for what it was. There were 9-courses so it does make a difference, but even that, I feel it is too much too eat for one person in one sitting. By the 7th course, we were already struggling to finish off our plates.
While the restaurant is fairly new, it is apparent that there is a need to refurbish or at least replace some of the chairs, as there were already scratches on some of them, especially the ones we were sitting on. This is typical of leather as time goes by, but for a Michelin-star restaurant, you would expect this minor details to be non-existent.
One another area, I have a thing for toilets in restaurants so this can be helpful to other people like me. The toilets were located on the 2nd floor so if you were on stilettos, it could be a struggle getting up there. Don’t get me wrong, they have proper staircase so it’s not so much a big deal. The toilets were definitely stylish, black matte tiles and marble walls, with enough lighting for a touch up. The sink made out of bronze vat cylinders sitting on a slab of marble totally added character, however, I felt that a slight improvement on the cleanliness part could come in handy.
Although it is not mentioned in the website, it is highly recommended to visit Eleven in Smart Casual clothes at the very least. The place is a class of its own, as compared to other restaurants in Lisbon. It is definitely a cut above the rest in terms of style and sophistication, although I would say there are definitely other better Portuguese restaurants that could give you a real Portuguese culinary experience. One thing I am certain of is that it is a very good place to go on a date or to celebrate special occasions.
Although I didn’t get to try it, but judging from what I noticed on the other table, the Black Truffle Menu is very special and offers you a generous helping of truffles in each of the courses. In fact, it is the one menu where Chef Joachim himself comes out to grate truffles on your plate! The tasting menu is not bad at all and could offer you a complexly diverse gastronomic experience. I especially liked how my lamb was cooked. Coming from someone who is not a fan of lamb, that really says how good it was.
Pay attention to the cost tagging above, so you will not be shocked at how much you will be spending. It is certainly a wide mile away from other fine dining restaurants in Lisbon, because how meticulously each course is prepared, is also how expensive they can get.
I would say, overall, the restaurant does deserve its star. For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed every course and the whole experience in general. I would definitely recommend it for the experience!
Chef Joachim Koerper
RESTAURANTE ELEVEN (CAMPOLIDE)
Av. Marquês da Fronteira Jardim Amália Rodrigues
Phone Number: +351 213 862 211