Rodizio Rico, 111 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UW
17 November 2013
This game is so much easier when you have a reliable contact from the target country to advise you; in this case Joe & Sophie’s neighbour Roberto was That Man from Rio. He insisted that the signature Brazilian dish was feijoada, and that to find this we should head for a branch of Rodizio Rico. This has become something of a chain restaurant, with 4 branches in London and another in Birmingham, but it still promised a measure of authenticity.
Upon arrival it looks the part; Rodizio Rico is a churrascaria, meaning barbecue, and rows of skewers of meat are constantly rotating in the open kitchen area. These skewers are taken by the waiters from table to table, and slices of meat carved off on request. A different skewer arrives approximately every time someone breathes, so you are provided with a traffic light system (below) to stop them offering you yet more meat. Not that this really works: they offer you more meat anyway, and for some reason you keep saying yes, despite the pile you can’t finish that’s already on your plate. The meat is delicious, including grilled steak of various different types (including picanha, a very specific cut of beef also known as “small rump cap”), pork leg, lamb leg, chicken wings, a chicken sausage of wonderful consistency, and a pillar of chicken hearts which are popped off onto your plate until you tell them to stop.
It’s not just meat. There is also a Harvester-style salad bar and a row of stews and other dishes that you can help yourself to as often as you can manage. Here we found the fabled feijoada, which seemed to be made from black beans, chorizo (chouriço, rather) and pork belly. It was delicious, as were the other offerings here, including tropeiro beans (beans and egg), banana croquettes, cheesy breadballs, lasagne (bizarrely), sweet potato and pineapple salad, and finally chayote salad. We couldn’t work out what this was, suspecting it of being some sort of cactus, but it turns out to be a type of gourd. To finish off this huge mound of food, there was also cassava flour which could be sprinkled on top and make everything pleasingly crunchy.
Writing this, I cannot understand how we were able to contemplate pudding, but contemplate it we did. These were a bit less exciting: a sort of crème caramel and a chocolate pudding that was apparently very Brazilian but also rather uninspiring. Still, no points lost for that, since the preceding courses had been so excellent. Drinks were also good: decent caipirinhas, Brahma beers and a Brazilian red called São Monte that was perfectly drinkable.
This was just the sort of restaurant trip that I was hoping for when starting this project – unusual but delicious food, in an unusual and exciting setting. Could this be the Best of the Bs?