Memmo Alfama Hotel, Lisboa

Our first visit ever to Lisboa and Portugal. Airline tickets were bought at 99,00 EUR around Christmas time and my Christmas present. I had the task – I love – to find a hotel. There were some to choose from – Lisboa not being heavily overpriced like London or Paris – and my online searching – on tripadvisor etc. soon made it obvious that Memmo Alfama Hotel (MAH) was looking like the right choice.

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Besides the GREAT location in what is described mostly as the best quarter of Lisboa to visit and enjoy, Alfama with it bars, cafes, restaurants, art shops and small alleys and picturesque corners and squares everywhere – the hotel offers modern interior design,

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plus  a 3 level roof terrace with stunning views of Lisboa and the river and cruise ships coming and leaving on a daily basis.

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We were blessed with nice weather as you can see. And having breakfast outside at 12 degrees – in the sun with a jacket, was maybe met by a small (you are crazy) nod from the ever-smiling and very service-minded waitress Carina, who offered red blankets to the crazy northerners. The sun soon rose as did the temperatures to 16-20 degrees so we felt we were for sure doing the right thing.

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As good as it gets

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Thats the missus, right there in the middle 🙂

The breakfast (Included in price) was with all you can expect and a la carte egg dishes, pancakes or whatever you more or less wanted including freshly pressed juice in small old fashioned milk bottles.

The hotel offers a complementary tour every morning, all you need to do is sign up and be there at 10.00 . And we did just that. 5 out of 7 people were there at 10.00. And the last two British ladies had to be called in their room and soon after they too emerged.

Our tour guide, Rogerio Bento, was witty – entertaining and with a glimpse in his eye and a love for Portugal and Lisboa and Alfama he did not manage to hide very well. Here are some shots from that tour.

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At the end of what turned out to be close to two hours, Rogerio was giving an individully chosen amount/tip from all for his efforts and time spent. You can reach him at Tailor Made Travel under +351 91 9902430

I shall finish this little post with my conclusion of the hotel, and just prior to that say: We love Lisboa and will be back for sure. You meet friendly and service minded people everywhere if you are lucky but somehow the level was just higher here in Lisboa. And the vibe of the city really impressed us. Nice taxi drivers, affordable prices for cab, food, wines and a nice selection of shops – not only H&M, Springfield etc. but also local shops and brands usually not seen up here.

My conclusion:

The moment we entered the hotel a warm welcoming Pedro and his colleague made us feel at home. Showed us all the areas of the hotel and told us about the name “Memmo” and how you can yourself personalize your stay and memory. He showed us the terraces – the bar, and our room later when it was ready. He was very helpful in finding the right places to eat or to confirm me in my choices. He suggest a waterfront restaurant, showed pictures of the place from the internet, and when I said I want THAT table, that was the table I got when we walked into the restaurant 6 hours later.

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The bar and breakfast team being on top of their toes to meet your every wish and especially Carina was a light to see every morning for breakfast, joking and smiling. We wish you all the luck in the world.

When we checked out we were asked to fill out a form, and Astrid asked me if I had any comments. I only wispered, I think this is just about the best hotel I ever stayed in. And mind you there has been a few Hyatt’s and Four Seasons along the way.

The terraces all beautiful, however on the first day a very annoying Dutch family occupied two sofas and one chair all by themselves and made no move to re-arrange themselves when we visited the top terrace. The following day while breakfasting next to us outside, the same woman, talking very loudly on her mobile phone with loudspeaker on, so she could eat and talk at the same time !!!! Horrible and rude behaviour that had all other tables looking at her as well. Idiots everywhere I guess. But funnily enough kids under 16 are not allowed in hotel. That’s sad. Because this means we cannot show them this place next time around. And I think personally rude people should not be allowed. Our kids certainly behave better than this.

But back to the MAH. The people here, all staff makes this place come alive like I have never seen a hotel alive before.

Add stunning views and great selection of taps and wine in the bar and you feel more than at home. And we thank you all for that.

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Only things to complain about apart from the Dutch family – is the however modern and well working  – VERY tiny bathroom. It was simply very small. But great beds and an eye for detail throughout the room.

But Memmo Alfama Hotel, we sure will remember you and Lisboa with great smiles – and your fine little hotel comes with our highest recommendation. I did not want to leave, and what more can you achieve as a hotel. We salute you. And Portugal. We love you.

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Le Jules Verne, Paris – March 2016

This lunch was planned a few month ago to coincide with the semi-marathon of the missus. However, due to her bad knee, she decided not to run. I decided to stick to plan – that being that I had presented the idea of dining on top of the world to one of my best friends Jörgen – and he as always being a good sport about it –  saying yes and inviting Miss S along. The eve before we had both spent with the infamous Helge Schneider – and the laughs of that evening still lingered in the air as we headed down in the car on a cold Sunday morning for a decadent lunch experience.

If you read reviews of Le Jules Verne, you will learn that most people find food disappointing, views unbeatable and service very French. The restaurant is of course if you do not know it situated on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, and has regained it’s second michelin star while run by Alain Ducasse.

Michelin stars are easier obtained in Paris then anywhere else it seems, and some of most disappointing michelin starred meals have actually been had at two starred restaurants. As for my expectations, I hoped Le Jules Verne  would be better than it’s reputation and feared it would not.

There are two menus for lunch and dinner in the weekends, and weekdays a more affordable lunch menu is also available. But here on a Sunday, the small menu will set you back 190 eur, and the big one 230 as far as I remember.

Arriving in Paris, we parked the car without any problems some 800 meters away, and walked up towards the impressive building and the “private” lift that is reservd to the diners of Le Jules Verne.

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I love Paris

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Looking for our ride.

Security is understandably high, you are screened and only allowed to enter waiting room for lift, if you have booked a table. An American tourist, who tried to sneak her way pass the security, or was maybe just very naive, was met by a very rude and argumentative controller who VERY unfriendly told her to go back and wait down below until he had time to deal with her. She didnt leave, which I would have – but waited for clearance from the restaurant above. She never got it – even though there was actually lots of space as it turned out. Guess the controller was not too impressed by her sneaky ways or her rubber boots.

The ride up in that “private” lift, with the views of the tower and Paris around you, certainly helps building up the expectations of a very special meal.

When entering the restaurant, we were met by very friendly waiters, checked off on a list again, and showed to our ….WINDOW…table. 🙂 No window table can normally be reserved – you get it by chance – or good name I guess. In this case it was surely by chance.

Some shots to get you going

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The tables, beautifully set, the three dining rooms very classy and a little bit packed but since not very fullit still felt like a room with lots of air on this day.

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Great bread was offered and the Jules Verne logo everywhere.

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W had opted for the “smaller” menu consisting of 4 dishes, plus the usual greeting from the kitchen which in this case was listed on the menu, and was the only one. Far from the army of amuses you are used to in other places at this level.

But tasty it was and probably the best arrangement of the day.

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Marinated Sea Bream with citrus.

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Pan-seared Duck Fois Gras with Walnut condiment

I think this was the best dish for me of this menu, but as you can see, arranged – as what we had realized by now was the style of the chef – in a very “laid back” brasserie style.

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Warm green Asparagus from Provence, vin Jaune Mousseline

I love asparagus, and these were nice, the mousseline far from perfect, and again an arrangement I could have matched in my kitchen.

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Seared Beef Fillet, Truffled Macaroni, cooking Jus

Beef cooked more bleu than saignant and on the cold side temperature wise, but the biggest flaw was in my opinion that no truffles were to be found nor tasted as described on the menu.

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Pre-Dessert – Pineapple/Coco Palet, Passion Fruit and Ginger Sorbet and next to that different sweets.

Very nice pre-dessert with a very poor presentation. Same can be said about the sweets 🙂

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Cripy “Tower Nut” Chocolate from own Manufacture in Paris

Nice that they finish on a high note, very nice dessert served with a separate nutty ice-cream.

Last round of sweets – and then a digestive from the small list of spirits, which to our surprise were reasonably priced.

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My conclusion:

It was not as bad as feared, it was definitely  not as good as I had hoped. The service, especially the sommelier, where flawless, and smiling and my request for a signed menu was met without a fuss.

The views and the atmosphere almost unbeatable. The tables are too close, but hell – you are dining at the Eiffel Tower.

But – but – but. At this price, and with this name – Ducasse as much as Tour Eiffel and Le Jules Verne – one must expect food at a very high level. The only high level here being the attitude not what was served us. All food was nice and eatable and had few flaws Had it been served to us in a Brasserie at 1/3 of the price all would have been good. But it was not.

Wine menu which we chose had nice wines, and very French choices, but with good names and vintages and fitted the food.

We thank Jules Verne for having us, and if you guys reading this want to experience this as well, go right ahead. But do not do it for the food. There are better meals to be had also in Paris.

We were all three happy we had tried this in our lives. Checked. Will we be back. For sure not. There are other restaurants equally high priced that will bring food to die for, not only views. Falco, Sollerod Kro, Victor’s Fine Dining – you are light years ahead of Le Jules Verne. You might not bring views of Paris, but that is being made up for in so many other ways.

But thank you Jörgen for this lunch and for your friendship, your advises through my life and for always being there for me. It was a great experience. Thanks Miss S. for the female touch at this lunch and your company. We will have better lunches I am sure. And to the American tourist from the beginning, I hope you found a better price/quality ratio than we did, and I am sure we had better views 🙂

My rating below will reflect the extremely high price you pay for the privilege it is to dine in Le Jules Verne.

My price / quality rating for this visit:

Food 5p (10), service 4.5p (5), ambience 5p (5), 14.5p (20).