I had heard so much about this place JNcQUOI that I really wanted to go. I passed it quiet a few times on Avenue Liberdade which is the chic Avenue in Lisbon and it just appealed to me. A friend had gone and had a wonderful lobster and glass of champagne in the bar downstairs and had raved about the food and the atmosphere.
My heartbeat was not convinced. He didn’t want anywhere that sounded or looked Chi Chi but tenacity is my middle name and I brazenly walked in and asked if they had a table . The receptionist was friendly enough and it didn’t look full but we were early and we were given a table on the proviso we gave it up in 2 hours.
I loved the look of the place. High end over the top, with an enormous skeleton of a dinosaur, tall windows and a flattering light. A sort of Portuguese interpretation of French. It was quirky fresh and felt nice.
It was the beginning of the evening service and they were a bit slow in getting the water but their sommelier advised on an excellent wine Cartuxa Evora. This is a wine from the Quinta de Valbom area near to the Cartuxa Monastery which is a former Jesuit retreat. The menu is eclectic a bit of French a bit of Italian a bit of Portuguese.
We decided to share Sea Bass Ceviche with lime. It was ok but , and I do think this is an important element, the way it was plonked down by the server was rough which is why I think it put Richard off the place. It was per functionary rather than warm. To me a good restaurant is a combination of food, service atmosphere and our server was not exactly friendly service wise.
Richard then ordered the Prawns in Red curry sauce which were fine. My Beef tornedo with Morrielles mushrooms was not. More precisely the sauce was very good but I had ordered my steak rare and this was anything but that. I called the manager and asked him what he thought it was and he agreed it was medium well. They probably would have changed it if I insisted but I didn’t . Nevertheless in a top notch place they would immediately have taken it away and brought a rare steak. The chips were very good though.
This place which is a concept of eating , shopping with a bar. is promoting itself as luxury high end. It certainly has all the makings of being so but its the attention to the detail that makes a place, beyond hype , to remain at the top of its game. And it needs to raise the level of its food and service. It has a curated men clothes section with high end labels St Laurent Valentino, Gucci et all. Downstairs they have a Delibar a more casual place with light meals and cocktails and what looks like really yummy pastries at tea time . They serve Laduree pastries which are generally very good. I had a Portuguese cake and it was fine though a bit stodgy .
I think the problem with the place is perhaps its trying to do too much relaying on brands and stunning décor and not focusing sufficiently on its service and food. Despite the service and food flaws I liked the place I feel it has potential and I hope next time it will be better.