Mini Bar, one of a stable of restaurants from superstar chef and El Bulli alumnus, José Avillez, calls itself a “gastropub”, but the word doesn’t quite seem to do this creative, culinary destination justice. Much like its stylish siblings, including the two Michelin-starred Belcanto, Mini Bar has found a home in Lisbon’s elegant and vibrant Chiado district, this time offering an almost-unparalleled dining and nightlife experience from within the São Luiz Theatre.
In keeping with the theatrical surrounds, the food menu is divided into five “acts” and the drinks menu is laid out like a programme, with the comprehensive list of Portuguese beers appearing under “Street Theatre”, young red wines under “Revue Plays” and mature whites under “Tragicomedy”. After all, Mini Bar is clear from the start; nothing here is quite what it seems.
Case in point: one of the dishes in the “1st Act” is an edible green apple and spearmint margarita. And in the “2nd Act” you can avail yourself of Avillez’s interpretation of a Ferrero Rocher; a crisp chocolate and hazelnut bonbon which yields to rich, savoury foie gras mousse as you bite.
While the quality and technical brilliance of the food here wouldn’t be out of place in a formal high-brow joint, Mini Bar is all about a laidback atmosphere and a playful attitude to sharing and enjoying food. You can create your own gastronomic “performance” from the wide selection of mini dishes (most items on the menu are bite- and tapas-sized) in the Acts, but there’s also the option to partake in one of the two tasting menus, which showcase the best that Avillez and Mini Bar have to offer. If you can, grab a table here on a Friday or Saturday night and listen to DJs spinning tunes while you enjoy your meal.