In the beginning, there was the Word
A wish made of a handful of ideas brought from Festival Lumière, in Canada, in which chef Ljubomir participated, as one of the guests representing Portugal, the country highlighted that year.
Then, the action.
To transform this historical place, which once housed Tavares Pobre and Bachus, into a timeless house. To convert this Art Deco-inspired building, home of one of the oldest restaurants in the country, into an eclectic and contemporary place, where art and gastronomy, music and mixology, the most conservative and the most eccentric coexist.
With two floors and capacity to welcome around 70 people, Bistro 100 Maneiras is a hymn to pleasure. And this characteristic, which brings so much together, made it collect the prize that is, by itself, a reason for eternal pride: world number 1 at the Monocle Restaurant Awards in 2017 and the third place in the same awards in the following year. Hail, Bistro!
“Bistrot”, some call it, with French accent. 100 Maneiras, others, forgetting that is the Bistro in its name that gives it part of its identity. Bistro means “clean and clear” in Serbian. “Clean and clear” – the ideas, the food, the space. Here, it’s served comfort food, with a choice made à la carte, with creations designed from the traditional Portuguese, “Yugoslavian”, French and Italian gastronomy, with an author’s touch and inspirations brought from the travels, experiences and tastes of Ljubo and the team led by the executive chef Manuel Maldonado. Without pre-arranged limits. From foie gras to bone marrow, from shellfish to game, from “luxury” products to less known ones. The daily menu includes seasonal products, proteins of the day ready to go to the grill and the “No Questions Asked” section, with guts, offal and other unconventional suggestions – a passion of Ljubomir Stanisic. In the fixed menu, there are starters, classics (the so-called Top 100) and different side dishes, organized by categories, to be combined (or not) as you wish with different daily suggestions. Rice, potatoes, vegetables and sauces that can be ordered to shine solo or share the spotlight with the different proteins available. Not forgetting, of course, the inevitable happy (and sweet) ending.
Happy, too, are the suggestions coming out of Bistro’s bar, which influence goes well beyond this counter.
It was here that, in 2005, the ideas for the first great Portuguese cocktail book germinated: 100 Cocktails 100 Maneiras, published by’A Esfera dos Livros. A book that reflects the importance of the cocktails in the restaurant and in the whole 100 Maneiras concept. It was not by accident that Monocle magazine considered Bistro the perfect place to have a cocktail in Lisbon… As it was no coincidence, either, that Bistro’s Bar won, in 2017, the Coaster award for Best Restaurant Bar in Portugal – awarded annually in the final of the World Class competition, the most renowned cocktail competition in the world, which recognizes daily work in the best cocktail bars – and the same title, in 2019, at the Lisbon Bar Show Awards.
And if it’s true that what ain’t broken doesn’t need to be fixed, it is also true that in a bar – just like in life – it’s the mixes and stirs that make it move.
Since the Summer of 2021, it is João Sancheira who takes charge of the bar. Named Bartender of the Year 2021 in Portugal, after winning the national final of the World Class competition in the same year, Sancheira signs a list of 12 cocktails that reflect the essence of Bistro using natural ingredients, with the imaginary of Alice in Wonderland serving as the motto for the journey and Tiago Maya’s illustrations guiding every step of the way. The cocktails are the main characters of this parallel universe in liquid form, joining a handful of signature cocktails that are already part of Bistro’s identity and some unmissable classic cocktails.
These and other glasses can be enjoyed in the space renovated between the end of 2021 and March 2022, after five months of works with the goal of giving back to Bistro its classic aura after a decade of operation.
Rebeca Perez, interior designer at Tabula Rasa Design Studio, and Mário Belém, Bistro’s almost-resident artist, whose history of collaborations with the group and chef Ljubomir cannot be counted on the fingers of two hands, had the mission of transforming, almost completely, the space.
The timeless green Chesterfield sofa in the entrance and the golden brass which surrounds the bar counter were the inspiration for Bistro’s new colors, making a presence across the entire space, whether in the upholstery created by Rebeca or on the ceiling in the first floor, where a huge brass leaf ring reflects the light – an idea of the interior designer, inspired by the oculus in the dome of the Roman Pantheon.
At the entrance, a 3D heart, in Nordic pine and illuminated by LEDs, into which gigantic wooden knives and cleavers converge, crossing the ceiling to the bar, captures the first attention, leading the eye to the counter that accompanies the side shelves, where several pine light boxes replicate the idea of the “grandfather’s library”, a mix of experiences and stories where there is no shortage of references to the life of Ljubomir Stanisic – a work by Mário Belém, who knows by heart the history of the chef and the group.
Untransformed, Bistro’s Upside Down Room and the Hendrick’s Room, both with the signature of Mário Belém, were the big exception to the rule. The first space was designed in 2014, in the space which once housed Ljubomir’s “Pekaria” (a Yugoslavian bakery), by HAJE, the same duo who signed the project for the new 100, at Rua do Texeira 39, and is distinguished by its walls that reproduce an image of William Morris “upside down”, making us feel (sit and enter) an inverted garden, where the huge colorful flowers and lamps are “inside out” – almost like Alice after eating the magic mushroom.
It was also Belém, in partnership with Filipe Pinto Soares, who designed the dream on the walls of the Hendrick’s Room, the private room at the top of the stairs connecting the two floors of the restaurant. A parallel universe, created in 2016, where the illustrations of Belém are combined with the technological creations of Pinto Soares (who is also the author of the “infinite” shelves of the bar, in the lower floor, and of the two windows that speak of a certain type of love, in a partnership with Tequila Milagro).
Ready to be reinvented according to the tastes of the occupants, at Hendrick’s Room it is possible to customize the scenery according to the mood (or the time of the day or night…) by controlling the intensity of ceiling and wall lights and even connecting a smartphone to choose the playlist. Different moods, different ways. In addition to the eight-person oval table (with a mirror on the ceiling accompanying it), there are two benches built into the walls, next to the window. Because here the occasion makes the room – and it can serve the intimacy of a dinner for two, the privacy of a business meeting or the sharing of dinners between friends. Always with an open view to Chiado and a bit of Tejo in the background.
Eclectic and urban, with no presumptions or prejudices, Bistro 100 Maneiras is also the stage par excellence of some events with 100 Maneiras signature, where multidisciplinarity is imposed. These are the dates in which gastronomy joins cinema, music, plastic arts, travel or winemaking, promoting the spirit of 100 Maneiras beyond any frontiers. It is the bohemian Chiado that presents itself here, from the cocktails to the wines, with the people and the nights that linger, with the pleasure of being and sharing, with the world, the best things in life.
To share Portugal with the world, to put Portugal in the mouths of the World. No matter the changes on the menus of this mythical restaurant in Chiado, this will never change. Because it is a certain “portugality” that is exhibited, but also seasonality and, above all, a locality without frontiers. It is the world that emulsifies, that excites us. And it is emotion that we want to put in the glass, the stone, the pot or the dish. Because 100 Maneiras are not “just” restaurants. They are a family that eats and feels, drinks and desires, that looks at the world with the will to devour it. In a single sip – or bite.