The star symbol that can be found in various scales and in various elements of the decoration in this restaurant, and also in the name, is something that has always been associated with the founder, Agapito Serra Fernandes, and has given rise to very colourful stories as to its origins, of which there are various versions. We will not dedicate much time to these stories, given that none of them can be corroborated. The allusion to “field of the star”, a literal translation of the name of his place of birth, Compostela, is immediately clear. But it is also said that the appreciation for the star symbol could come from a spiral curl Agapito had in his hair . There are also those who associate the symbol with masonry and powerful organisations that are said to have frequented the restaurant, in particular seeking out its private compartments. Together with another Historic Shop, the Restaurante Faz Frio, this was one of the last places in the city where one could lunch or dine in private cubicles or compartments, something that was once a common feature of Lisbon’s restaurants. Here they are partitioned off with pinewood panels that were once painted green. By chance one day, some 50 years ago, the father of the current owner noticed that the wood looked much better in its original colour, after a bottle had broken and shards of glass had to be pulled from the panels, causing strips of green paint to peel off. All the paint was stripped off in no time. People came here to eat together and enjoy a certain degree of privacy, the reasons for which will always inspire the imagination…
What we do know is that Agapito Fernandes left Pontevedra at a very young age with his brother, and they both set up a business supplying baked goods to the military. Later they opened their first restaurant, the Estrela d’Ouro in Rua da Prata. Estrela da Sé was opened as an eating house in 1857, and from generation to generation in the same family it became a very unique place in this part of Lisbon, with regular and loyal customers, for many of whom it was a second home.
The Portuguese composer and conductor Victorino d’Almeida received his correspondence here and former president Mário Soares, when incarcerated in Lisbon’s Aljube prison, ordered his meals from here, which were delivered by hand by one of the restaurant’s workers. There is a family-like bond between the employees and most of them have worked here for decades, which goes some way to explaining the cosy, homey ambience. That is, indeed, one very important aspect of the Estrela da Sé experience. Another is, of course, the house specialties: flame-grilled morcela (black pudding) and chouriço as a starter, fried alheira sausage or stewed fava beans; Estrela da Sé steak; and liver Portuguese style.
Restaurant (full meals, snack, bar and cafeteria service)