This international Lisbon restaurant, Alcântara Café was a pillar of fashion in its 1980s heyday. A converted docks warehouse continues to maintain its reputation, despite losing ground to newer and more exciting restaurants. Designed by Antonio Pinto, the décor is a mixture of dining-room decadence and industrial renovation. Yards of red velvet are draped across faux-classique steel pillars and soft lighting lends a warmth and intimacy to the open-plan space. The effect is surprisingly tasteful and not at all garish.
The red-carpet treatment begins immediately: diners are greeted at the door and swept along a plush hallway to their tables. The atmosphere is electric. Staff tend to your every need and steer their tight ship with military precision. High-flying execs and showbiz stars frequent, although every customer commands celebrity status for the duration of their three courses.
Owner of the restaurant, Portuguese entrepreneur and TV star Herman José, also presents his chat show from the premises regularly. Unfortunately Alcântara is a victim of all surface and no substance, and the food is disappointing for a restaurant of this calibre. But people don’t come to Alcântara to eat: they come to be seen and to feel like they’re worth seeing. The restaurant is busy at weekends and reservations are essential.