London’s Foodie A-Z: B = Brazil
Continuing my journey through London’s culinary delights, this week I sampled Brazilian cuisine at Rodizio Preto on Shaftesbury Avenue.
The restaurant is a typical churasscaria, where skewered meat is barbequed or spit-roasted and served by waiters called Passadors at your table. These Passadors learn the skill and art of carving the succulent meats from the skewer directly onto your plate – as much or as little as you want.
Churrascarias are found all over Brazil, but the tradition comes from the Gaucho culture of the south, where cowboys would cook meats skewered on metal spits over hot coals, seasoned simply with rock salt.
The prime cut of meat now associated with this style of cooking is picanha – rump steak, which has a thick layer of fat ensuring the charred, smoky meat just melts in the mouth.
This fun restaurant captures the vibrancy of Brazil with its colourful interior of blues, reds and yellows. Tables are plain wood with painted wooden chairs and the large restaurant is airy and bright. The cocktail bar is well stocked, and the atmosphere is lively (but not too loud).
My friend and I were early for our reserved table, but that was no problem at all for the helpful and friendly staff.
Drinks were ordered – what else but a Caipirinha, a delicious cocktail of cahaca (a hard liquor made from fermented sugarcane juice) and mixed with sugar and lime. Having never had one before, and wanting to remain as authentic as possible with my meal, I went for the traditional Brazilian caipirinha, whereas my friend Edmund went for the slightly more exotic passionfruit flavoured one – then had the traditional lime version followed by a strawberry caipirinha (I just stuck with the original but did match him drink for drink!)
The menu is a set price for the Rodizio meats and includes the salad bar. So, we grabbed our plates and explored the delights on offer. In addition to the usual salad items of sweetcorn, tomatoes, green beans, pasta etc., there are also Brazilian dishes to enjoy, and I piled my plate with helpings of Feijoada (black bean and pork stew), Pao de Queijo (cheese bread – look a little like dough balls) and Banana Frita (fried bananas).
Sitting back down, the Passadors were generous in offering delicious skewered meats at our table and a steady stream of beef, chicken, lamb, pork and sausages were served.
So constant is the offer of freshly cooked meat that is then carved onto your plate that it can spoil the atmosphere of a relaxed meal – until you learn why each diner is given a red and green card. Leave it on the green side and the passadors know, that like Charles Dickens’s Oliver twist, you want ‘More Please’. Turn it to the red side and you indicate ‘I’m Full’, so the waiters know whether or not to keep bringing more meat. That way you can slow the meal down to a more relaxed pace.
The pork ribs just fell off the bone, the lamb melted in the mouth and the beef was cooked to perfection. Between us, we tried a bit of everything until we were full to bursting and turned our cards ‘Red’!
With no room for dessert, although the tray that was offered to a neighbouring table looked amazing with its Brigadeiro (a chocolate concoction), cheesecakes and Quindims (a baked custard pudding), we paid our bill and toddled off to the underground.
Preto is a small chain with a few branches across London and a couple in Essex and Surrey (www.preto.co.uk), and well worth visiting for a good value ‘eat as much as you like’ meal – even better for us as I had downloaded a special 2-for-1 offer from their website.
#lifeofaguide #LondonFoodieAZ #Brazil #RadizioPreto #Passadors #Caipirinha #meatlovers
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