Since the gal was last at one of Portugal’s top luxury hotels, Hotel Corinthia Lisboa, a new chef has taken over at the exciting Erva, ‘herbs’, restaurant, Artur Gomes. He is such a passionate culinarian, and he is producing fabulous food. See the dumplings, above, that started one meal. That menu also included magnificent bacalhau, salted cod, tempura with garlic mayo and unagui, a reduction of soy sauce. And also on the table was a magnificent shoulder of baby lamb, with a side of white bean purée, plus Quinta das Bágeiras olive oil, and both cow’s and white sheep’s butters, and Gleba breads. The glass of Casa Cadaval 2015 Trincadeira Preta enhanced the whole.
I was at the significant hotel’s Erva a few days before it opened and now, nine months on, it is in full swing. With a live DJ in one corner, a whole-wall window and door fronting on busy Avda Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, and, inside, a horticultural show of living greenery, it is not surprising this 90-seat dining-drinking venue is popular with locals as well as those staying in the 518-room hotel. Having an open kitchen, really a part of the whole space, helps too. Honestly, I could eat at Erva night after night without ever getting bored. I lunched, by the way, in room 823, and I was impressed by the way my spaghetti came with two vinaigrettes, flowers, warm bread rolls, and salted and unsalted butters, plus a typical Portuguese egg tartler. (See a video of my room, below, and notice the wall art, themed for ‘nature and peace’, according to Explore.
Many hotels have their own magazines but this hotel’s Explore stands out. It is overseen by GM Roderick Micallef, and its contents do exactly as its name implies. It encourages you to explore, outside and in. Throughout this May, for instance, there are concerts every Sunday at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, 14 minutes’ walk from the hotel. Any day, take a walking tour, Museu Nacional de História Natural e de Ciénca via Embaixada Concept Store, Jardim do Principe Real, Cevicheria, Pavilhão Chinés to Miradour de S Pedro de Alcántara. Alternatively, walk eight minutes to Lisbon zoo (get privilege tickets from the concierge). Within the hotel itself, look for paintings by Porto-based Susana Bravo, Corinthia Lisboa’s artist in residence. And read about some of the hotel’s sustainability initiatives: the laundry, for instance, uses natural gas, which uses only 50% of the energy that steam requires.
Fortunately I was long enough at Hotel Corinthia Lisboa to be able to do justice to its spa, which has 13 treatment rooms, plus a sizeable indoor pool and really good Technogym, 24/7 as all luxury hotels should have. This visit, breakfast was in the 24th floor club lounge, which has a delicate buffet as well as à la carte: in summer, the main breakfast, in ground-floor Sete Colinas, spills out on to the terraces of the hotel’s sculpted gardens, with eggs cooked to order in a retro VW van, fortunately stationary. Later in the day, I would be back outside, for a mug of white negroni in one of the open-sided Soul Garden cabanas, before returning to Erva for another memorable dinner. NOW SEE ROOM 823, AND TOUR ERVA.