Lisbon’s miradouros or viewpoints are compulsory stops in the city. They offer the opportunity to admire the city from above, to rest, and in the case of Miradouro de Santa Catarina (just steps away from the districts of Bairro Alto and Chiado), a relatively new and trendy cafÃ©. Although this is not my favorite miradouro (Miradouro de SÃ£o Pedro de Alcantara and that of Senhora do Monte top my personal list), I’d have to say this one offers the only “real” cafÃ©. Other miradouros such as that of GraÃ§a and Portas do Sol have small kiosks serving drinks and snacks, but Santa Catarina’s NooBai CafÃ© hasÂ a much more extensive menuÂ (Santa Catarina also has a kiosk on the main miradouro terrace, while Noo Bai is on the right side facing the river, down the steps). A DJ spins an eclectic selection of tracks (it ranged from Brazilian sounds to 80s hits on the Sunday afternoon I visited) as you choose from a menu made up of salads, sandwiches, quiches, and fruit drinks. The juices and salads were good, and the view towards 25 de Abril Bridge are always great, but this turned out to be one of my worst experiences at a Lisbon cafÃ©.
The music that could provide a chill-out ambience was way too loud on my first visit. So loud in fact, that I could barely hear my friend next to me talk. What could enhance the experience turned out to be a nuisance.
However, that was nothing compared to the unacceptable service I got on my second visit. I wasn’t satisfied with the sandwich I ordered because the bread was way too hard to be fresh. The waitress seemed to understand the complaint and offered to bring something else. When she returned with the new order, I was told I’d still have to pay for the sandwich I had returned — a sandwich I had only taken one single bite out of, and that I didn’t feel was edible. I’m used to the “customer is always right” policy and would expect that customer satisfaction would be a priority in such a talked-about new place. But when I asked for the manager and he later came with an aggressive attitude and even vulgar language (even saying that if I wanted fresher bread, to go to a bakery!!!!), I asked for the complaints book. In Portugal, every single business must have one, and it can not be refused to the customer. This manager refused to give the book. Not only does this cafe have terrible service but it also breaks the law. I was not going to complain about the days-old bread, but about his poor service and attitude. I had the right to call police for his refusal to provide the complaints book, but I chose instead to leave after letting him know how poor his service and attitude were– and even chose to pay for the sandwich I didn’t eat to show him that it was not about the money, but for the incredible lack of respect he showed to a customer.
I surely will never return to NooBai CafÃ©, as won’t my friends and family. It lost several customers over a sandwich costing just a couple of euros.
If you want to know a place that should be avoided in Lisbon, see the www.noobaicafe.com website.