Whilst many talented chefs dream of being awarded a Michelin star, it seems that Chef Martin Berasategui has the culinary midas touch. He is amongst the most celebrated in the world and has the most Michelin stars of any chef on the Iberian peninsula, writes Andrew Forbes (The Luxury Editor).
His latest project in Portugal has been christened FIFTY SECONDS by Martin Berasategui. This is said to be a reference to the time it takes to reach the top of Lisbon’s iconic Vasco da Gama Tower, shaped like a sculpted sail adjacent to the 5-star Myriad by SANA Hotels.
Here, up in the sky is where one finds this exclusive 35-seat restaurant with panoramic views.
Michelin star Restaurant
One year and 50 seconds after opening the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star in recognition of the exceptional work of not only Berasategui, but also his highly talented (predominantly) Portuguese team including Head Chef Filipe Carvalho, Head Sommelier Marc Pinto and Restaurant Director Inacio Loureiro.
So, it was with great anticipation that I too, took the fifty second lift ride to top of the Vasco da Gama Tower. The images and sounds that fill the lift as you ride upwards make you feel as I if you are entering a different dimension. Stepping out of the lift, and passing through the restaurant entrance, framed with glass cases filled with remarkable wines, I was faced with an amazing view – at night it’s impressive and provides a remarkable setting for a memorable evening.
Just a cursory glance at previous reviews had prepared me for what would be an extraordinary evening of gastronomy. I’ve dined at other Chef Martin Berasategui restaurants. So, I am familiar with some of his signature dishes. Yet here at FIFTY SECONDS there’s a whole new perspective.
Not just thanks to the remarkable views out across the Tagus estuary, or for the chic Nuno Rodrigues interior design with subtle maritime references and elegant use of blue and copper. The new perspective was from Head Chef Filipe Carvalho who immediately conveyed his personal style the moment the exquisite pre-starters arrived.
Impeccable presentation, these delectable bites, showcased Lisbon’s superior seafood as well as its Iberian culture – morsels that ignited the palate and set the scene for a night of creative cuisine.
As the menu began, Head Sommelier Marc Pinto introduced himself and explained his inspiration for pairing each dish with exceptional boutique wines – from Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2013; Quinta do Cardo Grande Reserva 2014; to Domaine Lesuffleur La Folletire. Pinto even presented a gourmet cider to accompany the cod – a creative and inspired choice.
The meal evolved into a showcase of Portugal’s exceptional wine culture, one that dates back millennia, yet in recent years one that has blossomed into a highly sophisticated, boutique industry creating highly refined wines that perfectly match fine-dining.
I opted for a menu of fish and seafood, a choice I certainly didn’t regret as Lisbon has access to the best for fresh ware fish, Atlantic seafood as well as Mediterranean delicacies.
Of course, cod featured – an integral part of Lisbon’s culinary scene since the first navigators headed for the north east coast of the Americas. Here its prepared as a contemporary interpretation of a classic cod brandade, but with apple and yuzu mayonnaise.
Grilled scarlet carabineros prawns with black garlic, and also steamed sea bass with shellfish followed – beautifully structured and layered dishes. A salad of vegetables with herbs, greens and lobster is a visual delight.
A meat course of grilled ox fillet on a bed of chard chlorophyll is a Berasategui classic.
Throughout, the service is flawless, led by Inacio Loureiro. Inacio presents each dish, for me in English, but for other guests in Portuguese, or French. Well-paced, friendly, and highly professional – the service never intruded, thankfully not over attentive. There was time to enjoy each dish, and the company.
2021 Season – Panoramic Cocktail Bar
After the service, as the guests left and the restaurant fell silent, Head Chef Filipe Carvalho led me through the immaculate kitchens, past Pastry Chef Maria João, busy making bread for the next day, and up to the new sky bar which was still under construction when I visited late summer 2020. This 360 degree space sits right at the top of the hotel and tower, set to be a sensational cocktail bar, framed with vertical gardens – opening for the new 2021 season. This new transparent dome makes you feel like you are floating over the water and the city. I believe this will be an unforgettable place to start an evening at FIFTY SECONDS:
Further details on the team, the menus and opening times are available on the Fifty Seconds website.
Fifty Seconds by Martín Berasategui
Myriad by SANA
Cais das Naus, Lisbon, Portugal