10 years of Bistro
22.09.2010. Bistro opened its doors for the first time. In the Art Déco building where once iconic spaces such as Tavares Pobre and Bachus had previously worked, Ljubomir Stanisic and company decided to create a house without time. A house where art and gastronomy, music and cocktails, the most conservative and the most eccentric could coexist. Where you could find comfort food for the stomach and the soul, with creations inspired by the traditional Portuguese, “Yugoslavian”, French and Italian recipes, with ideas brought from the journeys and experiences of Ljubo – and those who share the kitchen with him.
Bistro – and not “bistrô” – means “clean and clear” in Serbian. “Clean and clear” – the ideas, the food, the space. Clean and clear the goal: to provide a unique experience in Lisbon, without prejudices or pre-drawn limits. Making freedom the greatest luxury of all. That is why, on the menu, you can find from foie gras to vegetables, from shellfish to game, from “luxury” products to less known ones.
Over these 10 years, history has been made at these tables, at the counter of our bar, which formula involves not only spirits, bitters and gums but, above all, people, blood, sweat, laughter – and well, some tears too. Headed by Jorge Camilo, part of the team since the first day of Bistro, it is undoubtedly one of the most special places in this house. A place whose philosophy is to bring gastronomy into mixology, carrying many of the ingredients used in the kitchen into the glass. That was how many classics were born, such as 100 Maneiras Strong (with lemon, ginger and lemongrass in its composition), 100 Maneiras Smooth & Easy (with coriander and pineapple) and other well-known creations from Bistro’s bar, such as Red Hot Guava (guava, chili and ginger), Hulk (basil and peppermint) or the undisputed bestseller on this counter, Damn That’s Good (with raspberries and peppermint).
Times have changed and so have the walls, the ceiling, the places, the ideas. Not all of them worked. Like Pekaria, a Bosnian-inspired bakery which sold bureks, fresh bread, sandwiches and salmon lollipops, among others, to take away. It opened in 2013, closed a year later. Then the wall that separated Pekaria from Bistro was broken and Bistro’s Bedroom was created, the only smoking space in this house, named after its intimate atmosphere. Designed by HAJE Arquitectos, the same duo responsible for the project of the new 100 Maneiras on Rua do Teixeira 39, it was renovated in 2019 by Mário Belém, hand painted with the images of a huge garden upside down. It was then named “The Upside Down Room” – and became one of the most photographed places of Bistro. It was not only in this room that Mário Belém left his mark. He was the creator of “Nossa Senhora da Gula”, the patron saint of Bistro who welcomed those who arrived until 2015, when it was replaced by the huge illustration on books “Arrebenta Coração” – also by Mário Belém. It was also him who, in 2016, in partnership with Filipe Pinto Soares, drew the walls of Hendrick’s Room, the private room at the top of the stairs that connect the two floors of the restaurant. And in 2019, it was again Mário Belém who glued 100 mirrors in the upper room and drew its frames, one by one, by hand, on the walls.
In this decade of Bistro, we can say that almost everything happened. We had gastronomic movie cycles, curated by Rui Pedro Tendinha, solidarity art auctions, wine dinners – and a series of wine lunches, “Bistro Out of the Cork”, which ended only with the arrival of Covid-19. We had truffle festivals (one with a 600g white truffle) and photo shoots with swords, fire, smoke and other special effects achieved in the craziest possible way. Some of the best stories were shared in 2018, with the launch of the book “Bistromania – No Bistro como em Casa”. Others will remain forever between these walls and whoever lived them. There are hundreds of people who have been part of the team in these years, who are part of our history, who helped to create and grow Bistro.
These people are part of every prize won in these 10 years, such as the title of “Best Restaurant in the World”, awarded by Monocle in 2017, or “Best Restaurant Bar in Portugal”, in the Coaster Awards of the same year.
But more than that, there was laughter and tears. And there was struggle. Like when in March 2020 Bistro’s doors closed for the first time since its opening, due to the pandemic, and remained closed for 69 (long) days.
And there is hope. There is life. And there is a desire to celebrate everything we have lived here. Raising our glasses higher than ever, with the plates even more full. With a menu that, on 21.09.2020, paid tribute to this decade, composed by some of the most striking dishes from these 10 years, such as potato skins, Beet’s Me (beet tartare), Yugoslavian Burek, Smoked risotto with mushroom and shrimp, Dry aged sirloin tataki and the unavoidable Cheese foam – flavors that can be enjoyed, every day, at our tables. We can’t wait for the next 10 to come!