Ooooh. As a wordie (it’s like being a foodie, but better for my health), the name of Bistro 100 Maneiras gets me excited. Firstly, the word ‘maneiras’ makes me think of the Dutch word ‘manieren’ which, as it turns out, means the same: ways, methods and also manners (ways to behave). On their website, Bistro 100 Maneiras also states that ‘100’ also sounds like the Portuguese ‘sem’ for ‘without’, simultaneously evoking the idea that there are infinite processes utilised in this kitchen and that they have thrown out the rulebook. Delving further, I find that ‘bistro’ in Serbian means ‘clean and clear’, the perfect starting point for culinary adventure… Mmmm. Yummy language treats. I’m starving already.
Driven by the desire to present something different, Bistro 100 Maneiras is cooking up a storm in glamorous Chiado, Lisbon. Charismatic chef Ljubomir Stanisic, originally from Sarajevo, who has been gladly adopted by the Portuguese as one of their own culinary icons, holds a Michelin star at sister restaurant 100 Maneiras, a phoenix from the ashes of his original venture in Cascais. Don’t worry – this bistro venture has just as much of his passion and determination poured into it (it was this Bistro, and not the other, that won Monocle’s Best Restaurant in the World 2017).
Bistro 100 Maneiras is located inside a historic Art Deco building that has a history of fine dining predecessors, but the design here makes it unique and iconic (you can read about more of our Lisbon adventures here). I craved the decorative disembodied three-foot silver bird legs on the bar. There is seating on the ground floor but the main room, and the wine ‘cellar’ are up a winding staircase. There’s a dramatic disc-shaped central light fitting, but the lighting is set to romantic levels and the soundtrack is an epic mixture of old jazz and random twentieth-century rock and pop (an upbeat Leonard Cohen track and Strangelove by Depeche Mode? I’m so here for it.).
The tables are close together, but we were lucky enough to be seated in a brick alcove by the window. The alcove muffles some of the ambient chatter and you have the benefit of perfectly clear conversation for a date, but don’t bring your long-legged friends here unless you want to be straddling their knees all night (of course, I’m not judging if you do!). Our waiter Ricardo was the perfect blend of charming and helpful; we were, as an example, immediately persuaded to try some cocktails and given recommendations based on our preferences.
We tried the Tcha Tcha Tcha, a mezcal cocktail served in three little pots and Hot Guava, which was much lighter and less sweet than anticipated, much to my relief. We began with two beetroot dishes that ended up being highlights of the meal. The abundance of beetroot is part of the sustainable approach of Stanisic’s group of restaurants in Lisbon; what isn’t used by the fine dining restaurant is repurposed – to great effect – at Bistro 100 Maneiras.
More cocktails appeared, this time from the glossy pamphlet of pleasure that Bistro 100 Maneiras calls its Tales of Wonderland cocktail menu. The Clockwork Orange was vodka-based, with Schweppes Pepper, mandarin and basil to give a zingy freshness and the Neverland was based on Hendricks Neptunia gin, a little sweeter with rhubarb, yuzu and coriander.
The Beet’s Me tartare, served with wasabi, cheese and pecan was fresh and light, with all the flavours of beef tartare and the sweetness of beetroot, whereas the glazed organic baby beetroot was earthy and smothered in unctuous beetroot juice demi-glace. Sadly, we didn’t make selections just by the titles of the dishes, but I really enjoyed the playful names that Bistro 100 Maneiras has for many of the dishes! Our starter selection was rounded off with potato skins with dried herb salt. These thin, moreish slivers had to be consumed in moderation to preserve the appetite, but were very hard to resist!
The menu is meant for sharing and most of the portion sides encourage this, although it’s worth noting that you always seem to get your money’s worth in Lisbon (read: go easy on the bread basket and thank me later). The eclectic background of the chef is apparent on the menu – the spinach burek had flaky pastry, fresh herbs and feta inside, and a dollop of yoghurt sauce. Alongside this, we tried a wagyu brisket brioche with pickle that had all the flavours of a good burger with more refinement.
To accompany these delicious things, we were served a rosé wine from Madeira, the result of a partnership between Nuno Faría, one of the partners at Bistro 100 Maneiras, and winemaker Antonio Maçanita. The wine, named Dos Villões (of the villains), has good red fruit flavours, offset by the salty and minerally character that shows the benefits of growing wine on an island in the mid-Atlantic. It paired perfectly with one of my favourite dishes, the veal sweetbreads. These were served in a small pan in their rich juice, with the unique umami butteriness that only sweetbreads ever achieve.
We continued with another Madeiran wine, from the same winemakers: a Caracol Dos Profetas from Porto Santo. This wine had a distinctly smoky nose, almost reminiscent of mezcal and saline, citrusy flavour. It was hefty enough to stand up to the powerful flavours of our next courses, including a well-balanced meaty main of wagyu cheek with rich celeriac purée, bone marrow and pickled white seaweed.
We also ordered the ‘octopuff’, listed on the menu as spicy octopus with honey and sweet potato puree. When this arrived, there didn’t seem to be any ‘puff’ to speak of (I think we both expected pastry) but it was still delicious with Asian flavours of peanut and spices. These mains were accompanied by smoked risotto with lime and chlorophyll from spinach, as well as collagen from fish stock. It was salty and fresh, but veggies beware – there was no indication that this was not a plant-based dish before it arrived!
The final course was in two parts, both accompanied by our final wine, a rich yet not cloying 10 year aged Barbeito boal. We tried the cheese foam with guava sorbet, guava gel and white chocolate crumble. This was beautifully presented with edible flowers and had a sweet crunch and sorbet under an airy foam. The showstopper was, however, the hazelnut souffle, with a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream on top. We aren’t overly keen on salted caramel usually, but the sweetness was needed as the souffle itself was more like a breakfast muffin than a typically over-sweet Portuguese pud. It’s worth visiting just for this dessert!
At the end of the meal, as a final quirky touch, your bill comes in a box made from the outer cover of a hardback book, which reminds you of the playful artistry at work throughout the menu and the flavour journeys here. Bistro 100 Maneiras was consistently surprising and interesting, with very few missteps in terms of flavour and definitely gave us an exciting dinner we will remember with great pleasure!
When you are thinking about how to satisfy your hunger in Lisbon, there might be hundreds, no thousands, of different ways. But at Bistro 100 Maneiras, there are ways which will astound you, keep you guessing and make you curious for more. So take a walk on the wild side and choose the way where there are no signs and adventure is inevitable. There is more to Bistro 100 Maneiras than my words can ever reveal.
Bistro 100 Maneiras
Largo da Trindade 9