After being closed for a few months, restaurant Cravo e Canela (“Clove and Cinnamon”) in Bairro Alto has reopened, refreshed with a new menu. The dishes have changed, but the fusion of Portuguese and international flavors remains the same, as does the intimate ambience. The dÃ©cor is made up of candelabra, oriental sculptures, and mirrors surrounding the dark furnishings, where you sit as you listen to a soundtrack of chill-out, jazz, or fado tunes. Thatâ€™s the perfect setting for a long, relaxed dinner thatâ€™s guaranteed to be one of the most memorable among Bairro Alto restaurant experiences.Â
Start with the octopus carpaccio as an appetizer as I did, and let the knowledgeable staff suggest the perfect wine to go along with your meal. I was recommended a Callabriga Douro, a red wine from the north of Portugal. It went well with the main entrÃ©es that later arrived at my table, a vegetable risotto and a shrimp aÃ§orda (the traditional Portuguese bread stew).
The menu had other tempting options, under meat, fish, and risotto listings, and for lovers of the more exotic (and spicier) flavors, the Thai curry shrimps will sound tempting and is perhaps my likely choice on a return visit. But next time weâ€™ll have to repeat one of the desserts that completed our meal, the chocolate chiffon. That generous slice of cake was shared at the table, but I was also curious about the rice pudding and ice cream combination, and ordered that. The pudding comes in a thin cup, with strips of lemon providing a little extra flavor mixed in. The ball of ice cream that stands next to it on a plate is usually vanilla, but I requested it be lemon-flavor instead. It was a wise choice, and one that matched the chocolate chiffon in satisfying the taste buds. The apple lasagne also sounded interesting, but that was also left for next time.
The owners seem to have made comfort and customer satisfaction a top priority, and those who donâ€™t want to leave after dinner may choose to move on to the bar. They may stand or sit there with a drink, as they watch the streets of Bairro Alto become filled for the usual bar hop through the night.
The bar, the inviting and comfortable ambience, the inventive flavors on the menu, and the attentive service isÂ just the right fusion toÂ make Cravo e Canela one of the sure bets for a night in Bairro Alto.