London’s Best Brazilian Restaurants
The traditional image of the Brazilian restaurant is the churrascaria, where customers usually pay a set amount for all-you-can-eat selection of charcoal or wood-roasted meats, carved tableside according to whether a paddle is displaying green on one side (more meat please) or red on the other (no more meat please). There are churrascaria in London, but there’s more to Brazilian cuisine than that. Here are my pick of the best.
There are three branches of this traditional churrascaria in London, where it’s £25 for as much picanha (rump cap steak), ribs, lamb, chicken – you name it – as you could ever want, served by trained Passadors (carving waiters). There’s also – should you feel guilty about all that meat – a salad bar, so it’s not all solid protein. As for drinks, as you might expect they do a good caipirinha and have Brahma on tap. www.rodiziorico.com
More known perhaps as a live music venue and nightclub than a restaurant, but Guanabara nevertheless serve an interesting set menu of Brazilian dishes (grilled chorizo in cachaça, salt cod croquettes with mango salsa, Feijoada stew, picanha with fries) and unusually for Brazilian restaurants in London vegetarians are quite well catered for with the moqueca (a coconut-milk based vegetable stew). Also don’t forget the coxinha stall in the entrance hall.
A fast-growing chain of nationwide churrascaria, Cabana do what they do with colour and flair and without breaking the bank – think a Brazilian Wahaca. The spicy Malagueta chicken wings were the first to catch the eye – there’s never usually not much to like about spicy chicken wings – but all the other bits and pieces were enjoyable, from a simple minute steak to the inevitable pulled pork burger.
OK, I never promised this list would be strictly authentic. Sushisamba is (as the name suggests) a Japanese-Brazilian fusion restaurant, where gyoza sits next to ceviche, tataki next to taquitos (mini tacos). But interestingly it’s when the two cuisines are combined in a single dish that things get really interesting. El Topo samba roll is salmon, shiso leaf and jalapeno chilli combined with mozzarella cheese. Sounds odd? It is odd, but it’s also very much fun. And picanha tataki combines foie gras with aji panca peppers to lovely effect. Oh, and there’s also the little matter of the view, 38 floors up over Bishopsgate.
The “barraco” is Rio’s version of the London pub or Parisian brasserie, an informal drinking and eating den that serves uncomplicated but tasty comfort food. Brazilian ex-pats in Kilburn go to Barraco Café for their selection of fried croquettes and pastries, moqueca and the house feijoada, rumoured to be the best in town. Live music and £3.70 caipirinhas seal the deal.
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Over the seven years Chris Pople has been writing the Cheese and Biscuits blog, he has written about nearly 500 different restaurants, which is far too many by anyone’s standards. During that time he has been lucky enough to be picked as one of the top food blogs in the Times, New Statesman and Esquire magazine, and for the last three years running has been named as one of London’s 1000 Most Influential people. He’s probably in a restaurant right now, scouring the menu for spelling mistakes and waiting for a martini.