I was fortunate enough to get some insider tips from my friends at Gat Rossio Hotel when I asked about the top places to go to while in Lisbon. One of the places I was encouraged to go and see was Pharmacia restaurant in Barrio Alto Santa Catarina area, one of the young and hype areas of the city.
My intention was to see the place and maybe take some pictures of its interior, as I’ve heard it was designed as a pharmacy. And when I walked in and asked for a permission to shoot, it turned out the woman I’ve asked, was not only, but one of the owners who is actually in charge of the restaurant’s design. (two birds in one stone)
Tânia was so friendly and helpful. In fact, after she showed me around Pharmacia and let me take as many pictures as I wanted, she drove me to her other two restaurants; Taberna Ideal and Petiscaria Ideal. (But this is for a different post)
The restaurant is located in a 200- years-building that was once belonged to a rich family in Portugal and served them as a family residential. For the last few years the building is a home of the National Pharmacy Association in Portugal and Pharmacia is located in the ground floor with a great outdoor lawn overlooking the river.
Tânia Martins is the creative person who is responsible for the interior design and the restaurant’s concept. She was working closely with a graphic designer who did the restaurant’s cards, designed the tabs, the medicine boxes that serve as decorative details and even designed the unique wall paper of the restaurant. She told me how much she loves wandering the vintage markets and look for furniture and articles to decorate her restaurants.
Susana Felicidade is the creative chef. She comes from a family where everyone cooks. She is originally from a small fishermen’s village (Arrifama) and spent her childhood in her grandfather’s restaurant that was passed to her parents. Her father is a fisherman as well. She never studied cooking professionally but she has been passionate about it all her life. She comes up with all the food and dishes combinations and tries out new things all the time.
But not only the design, the decor and the concept are appealing, so does the food. Both Tânia and Susana came out with a ‘sharing-food’ concept, which is quite new in Portugal. The menu is such that people can order few small plates and dishes of small portions to share with the other people around the table. Sort of tapas to share and not one main dish per person.
The favorite dishes in Pharmacia are * Tibornas: A toasted bread with garlic and olive oil, topped with brie cheese, arugula and roasted tomatoes with coriander sauce. * Duck croquettes with orange jam, Madeira bread with salted mushrooms thyme and fried egg. *Pica-pau – Sirloin meat with fried potatoes. * Lobster à bras served with egg, fried potatoes, onion, olive oil and parsley. I wish I had the time to try them all.
Next time you are in Lisbon, don’t skip Pharmacia.
Rua Marechal Saldanha 1. Bairro Alto-Santa Catarina area, Lisboa. 213.462.146