On Sunday morning, before heading to the frog exhibit at the National Geographic Museum (side note: the exhibit was small, but it was very well done and worth the trip), boyfriend and I brunched at The Grill from Ipanema for the first time. We are learning Portuguese, so he wanted to try out the food of the country we hope to visit very soon.
From the start, I was worried–we were the first customers of the day (though, to be fair, they had just opened), and we were only joined by two tables during the entirety of our meal. I chalked it up to the fact that Brazilian food may not be the best hangover cure. There is a brunch special of a salad, entree (from a smallish, predetermined list), glass of champagne, and dessert for $18.95, so Jason decided to go that route. I didn’t want the salad or champagne, and none of the set-aside entrees really excited me, so I ordered a la carte.
We started with Coxinha de Galinha ($6.95), described as “Brazilian croquette stuffed with chicken and cheese, lightly breaded and fried, served with a spicy sauce on the side.” They were awesome, with a crunchy, non-greasy shell and a soft, flavorful center. Jason’s feijoada (the national dish of Brazil) was good, but it paled in comparison to home-cooked versions I’ve previously enjoyed. The star of the show, however? The Passaro Preto ($14.95), which was “Crispy fried chicken pieces on the bone marinated in olive oil, garlic, and basil, served with rice, black beans, collard greens, and farofa.” Absolutely delicious–so juicy, not greasy at all (seriously, this place has a great fry cook), and totally infused with fabulous basil flavor. The collards were wonderful; I’m sure they were blanched, as they had a bright green hue and a crispy bite, despite being cooked through and tender. The rice and beans were pretty standard, and I could have lived without the farofa (a ground yucca concoction), but the chicken was just great. My boyfriend, a proud Southern boy who knows about such things, said it might have been the best fried chicken he’s ever had. High praise, indeed.
The “fried” banana was a nice sweet finish; it was caramelized well and served with what was either a very light ice cream or a very heavy whipped cream or mousse (we really couldn’t tell). Service was good, portions were huge, and prices were pretty reasonable (though some of the seafood dishes gave me sticker shock during lunch hours, I would have gladly paid such sums for dinner). The food is a little heavy for an everyday excursion, but we left satisfied and I’m sure we’ll be back.