Boi-cavalo means Gnu, Wildebeest, ConnochaetesTaurinus or Connochaetes Gnou, a type of very large, migrating, big-horned antelope, which roams freely in both the south African plains and our own colonial memory.
(Also, in Portuguese, Boi means ox and Cavalo means horse)…
Five years ago we decided to open a restaurant in a former butcher’s shop. Calling it ox/horse, after a large, roaming herbivore seemed to make sense: Lisbon was a very different city then, and roaming freely seemed like a good idea.
With such a name, this was never meant to be an easy, bland restaurant. It was meant to be (and, fortunately, is.) an ever-changing, constantly curious restaurant, engaging daily with both the rich background of a centuries-old city, the shifting fabric of the people that actually live here today, and our own drive to cook an urban, contemporary, challenging Portuguese cuisine.
We’ve chosen to be defined by contradictions, big technique – no tablecloths / rock’n’roll blasting from the speakers – hand picking the produce ourselves daily / an extremely casual service – an extremely labour-intensive approach to cooking.
Was it (is it) meant to please everybody?
With such a name? Please…
Five years and some 700 dishes later, and we’re still figuring out this city we’re proud to live in and what is our role in it. We do it by cooking, which is the only way we know how to, and by eating, and thinking, and then by going back to the stove again.
(And we’re actually pretty decent at it…)