January 7, 2016 Update:
Sorry to say I’m not as enthusiastic about Lupulo after a recent visit. The place may still be a fun spot to grab a beer and perhaps some Piri Piri chicken, but the food is way too hit or miss and pricier than it should be. Also for a Saturday night I would expect it to be much busier.
A special of snails in garlicky sauce was bland and uneventful. The dry snails were impenetrable and could have used some French mastery perhaps. Shrimp Porridge with two perfectly cooked shrimp was quite good. No complaints about the shrimp turnovers either. Manilla clams and Brussels Sprouts were fairly forgettable. The one big miss was a lamb leg that was under-cooked while lacking any distinct flavor, accompanied by faro (good) and some pickled veggies that didnt quite belong. The Frango chicken with Piri Piri sauce was still good. Nice and moist, while big enough to share. The sauce can be too intense for some, depending on how well you shake that thing. The Piri Piri I have at home is a bit more family friendly.
June 27, 2015 Original Post:
Oh oh. We may have our first “Where the hell is this place” situation on EWZ. Is it in Chelsea? Is it KoreaTown? Is it the newly formed NoMad neighborhood? Or is it the even newer “Midtown South” whatever it is. I’m pretty sure its not Flatiron, I already established that. Although its in Flatiron according to Yelp. You see, up until a few months ago there was really no good reason to visit this area unless you have a cheap Chachkies fetish or in desperate need of a groin massage. I suppose Chachkitown is another possibility if we are inventing names as we’ve been doing for the past 20 years (“Clinton”? no thanks. We are proud of Hell’s Kitchen thank you). So I’m filing this under Chelsea until Chachkitown catches on. And then when we are ready we can move on to Nocita. North of Chachkitown
George Mendes’ new gig Lupulo is the sexiest spot in NYC at the moment, which really means North America when you think about it. It all feels very sexy, with a sexy staff, sexy bar, and those sexy light bulbs, but that vibe sort of diminishes once you get to your table. From the semi-comfortable table vantage point, it feels like a casual, bustly Portuguese cervejaria. Mendes who was Michelined with Aldea has something pretty cool going here
My food critique below may seem a little too critique as overall we enjoyed the buzzy atmosphere and most of the food. Other than one outstanding dish there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy, nor bad. But I still recommend Lupulo for some fun Portuguese comfort food like the Chicken Piri Piri which is a Lisbon staple.
Lupulo derives from Humulus Lupulus which has almost nothing to do with hummus I’m pretty sure, but hops. Beer is the name of the game here, though what I ordered failed to impress as the Mitten and the Saison fell rather flat. The Saison (forgot the name of the brewer.. “Home” or something like that) came about 30 minutes after I ordered it, but there were no other hiccups I should mention
Bread: Terrible. I read somewhere that it comes from a Portuguese bakery in Newark. Might as well come from the deli across the street. Mendez should talk to chef Guerrieri of City Sandwich who also gets his bread from a Portuguese bakery in Newark
Chicken Liver Pate – On the drier side with decent flavor. The lack of creaminess adds to the difficulty of spreading the thing on thin gap-filled crisps.
Green Peas, chorizo and egg – Nice, light and springy. The peas were enjoyable, as was the occasional okra that was almost as rare as the chorizo. If you put chorizo in the name, put it on the plate too
Red Snapper crudo – By far the best dish. Just about the spiciest crudo I ever had, but the heat is more of a delayed, back end heat allowing the fish to shine without much interference. Great dish, though at $18 its Marea price Crudo, and should really be in the small plate column, not “fish”
Octopus Rice – Did not suck. Essentially a mini paella priced as a regular paella ($26 or $24) with maybe one octopus leg sliced inside it. Although I was assured the octopus came from Spain and passed immigration, it didn’t have the “balls” of a Portuguese octopus we enjoy sometimes. Recommend still
Chicken piri piri – Simple, nicely cooked, good size, and a shockingly low price tag compared to the other dishes. How can this be $14 while the rice dish $26. I would order it again even with the same overcooked Mcdolands fries.
Chocolate Salami – Minty, rich, with ice cream. Must have.
Pasteis de Nata – Egg tarts. Misshapen and not very traditional looking (perhaps not on purpose), a little too greasy but not too bad overall. Borderline recommend. You cant go to Lisbon without having Pasteis de Nata after your chicken Piri Piri
835 Avenue of the Americas
Recommended Dishes: Peas chorizo and egg, Red Snapper crudo, Octopus Rice, Chicken piri piri, Chocolate Salami, Pasteis de Nata
***** Terrible iPhone pictures alert ********