Margarida Matias (Ark Studio) and Marta Fonseca have renovated an abandoned jam factory by “taming” the vegetation that creeped into it
The Prado restaurant, located in the heart of Lisbon, is now one year old. Since it opened, it has convinced its patrons with an approach that considers sustainability as a goal to pursue, both in its cuisine and in the inspiration for the interior design project.
The story began with a factory that produced jams, candied fruit and cookies in the nineteenth century, but was abandoned at the time of purchase. Vegetation is everywhere: it had covered the building entirely and creeped into the innermost mechanisms of the machinery. This powerful and suggestive image proved to be an inspiration for the designers Margarida Matias (Ark Studio) and Marta Fonseca to bring the building back to life and rethink it on the basis of the plant life. The name of the restaurant is in fact “Prado”, which means “meadow”. And so, in a warm and friendly atmosphere that lets the original factory tell its story (the machinery to produce the jams has been restored and narrates the memory of the place), the interior design project adopts a contemporary minimalist language, in which the vegetation appears to take over the space, this time in a more gracious and controlled manner.
Every design decision is a reference to Nature: from the selected chromatic components – various shades of green and grey, the colours of the earth – to the furniture made out of natural materials such as stone and wood. Prado’s vocation for sustainability is also evident at the table, and in the kitchen, where Antònio Galapito, the young chef and owner under the age of 30, only works with the finest seasonal and local raw materials.
From the seafood to the meat to the vegetables, everything comes from Portuguese producers whom Galapito has intercepted before opening “Prado” and with which he established a relationship of trust.
And with these premises the young chef, who has significant experiences abroad at Michelin-star restaurants such as “Viajante” and “The Corner Room” by Nuno Mendes in London (as well as “Lyle’s” and “Taberna do Mercado”, also in London), made his idea, based on the concept “from farm to table”, come true, without using middle-men, without relying on large-scale distribution or the market logic that often jeopardize the freshness and nutritional values of the raw materials. The wine list follows similar criteria, with a selection of organic, bio-dynamic and natural wines.
At the table, along with the ever-present “Barbela” wheat bread (excellent with fresh goat butter), diners can enjoy dishes such as Cockles, spinach, coriander and fried bread and Black scabbard fish, nasturtiums and heritage radish for seafood, as well as Smoked Iberico pork lardo on toast and florina apple and Iberico pork tenderloin, quinces and chocolate peppers for those who prefer meat-based cuisine. And for the close, an excellent and refreshing choice is the Fresh goats curd, fennel granita and clementine.
And if at the end of the meal you feel like taking something home, just a few steps from the restaurant there is the small and delicious grocery store by “Prado”, also designed by Matias and Fonseca.
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translation by Olga Barmine