To many in Portugal, food from the soul might be thought of as bacalhau, feijoada or calde verde. True soul food, however, is a “cuisine” with roots in the African American culture of the southern United States. Now imagine traditional soul food prepared with a special Portuguese touch! It’s possible. It’s here! It’s at Harlem in the Cais do Sodré area of Lisbon.
Harlem Lisbon has a cool vibe, much like the colorful neighborhood of Harlem, New York. The restaurant is a perfect mix of old style jazz saloon meets modern day hip lounge. Rough old columns and arched ceilings from the existing structure evoke a sense of another period in time, while sleek black tables and indirect up-lighting provides a contemporary urban ambiance. Jazz, blues and R&B sounds float across the space completing the mood. It’s an ideal setting for the innovative cuisine featured.
“Soul Food” is the name given to a style of cooking originating in the kitchens of 19th century plantation workers. In those days, slave communities made the most of their meager food supply. No element of animal or vegetable was thrown out. Instead, it was transformed into a hearty meal, seasoned with a heavy dose of love.
With soul food on the menu, you’d expect a large woman named “Big Mama” in the kitchen. Instead, Harlem have enlisted the talented duo of Hugo Brito and Pedro Duarte. Brito honed his skills at DeliDelux and 100 Maneiras, while Duarte learned his creaft at LA Caffe, Spot S. Luís and, also, 100 Maneiras. Yet, it’s love and inspiration that puts the “soul” in soul food, and both chefs serve up plenty of passion in dishes such as:
Cassava chips with cayenne pepper
Baked chicken wings
Macaroni and cheese soup
Sautéed chicken livers
Spicy shrimp with corn bread
Sliders (two small hamburgers with cheese, red onion & pickle)
Gumbo with chicken, shrimp and smoked sausage
Smoked sausage, apple and mustard sandwiches with sweet potato chips
Red velvet cake
Cheesecake with pumpkin cream
Accompanying the meal are classic American cocktails such as a Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitan, Tequila Sunrise or Mint Julep. Also available are Harlem’s own signature cocktails, designed by none other than Lisbon’s Maestro of Mixology Dave Palethorpe.
Music makes up much of the character of Harlem. Whether you stop by for after-work drinks, dinner with friends or late night digestif, the soulful sounds of Barry White, the jazzy notes of Miles Davis and the joyful energy of Aretha Franklin will entertain, inspire and uplift.
Largo dos Stephens 6
(between Chiado and Cais do Sodré)
Phone: +351 213 467 097
Hours: Monday to Saturday – 18:00 to 02:00