Monday, December 21, 2009

The #1 Restaurant in São Paulo (according to Tripadvisor)

On Saturday while walking around, I turned onto the street where Dior, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef and Arpels and all the big names stand next to each other and expensive cars line the streets. But this was the street where the restaurant I wanted to go to the next day was. And while walking by it at 4pm, I saw a good amount of people outside. Who eats at 4pm? I don’t know but I decided to make reservations and good thing I did because apparently they’re required. And while walking back out, I had to weave myself between a Maserati and an Alfa Romeo.

So I made it there on Sunday, not in a fancy car but in a taxi and you totally don’t need reservations at 7pm because no one eats at 7pm here, they all eat around 9pm. But moving on. The restaurant is gorgeous, built around a giant fig tree (over 100 years old), allowing it branches to poke through the roof and walls.

A Figueira Rubaiyat is essentially a steakhouse, whose meat all comes from the owner’s cattle ranch. All the food is cooked in wood burning ovens using traditional tools and methods. And I got to sit right under the figueira (fig) tree. And they put a plastic tie around your bag and your chair so it won't get stolen.

To start: a passion fruit caipirinha, assorted breads and anti pasti.

I think I only realized this recently (as in today) but there’s usually an item labeled “couvert” on the bill. Essentially, it’s a cover charge charged by the restaurant, but they give you bread in return, so you could say that’s what you pay for the obligatory basket of bread, whether you eat it or not. Here, it was the anti pasti, the pao de queijo, the huge cracker bread, the toasts and the grissini. I really liked the bigger pao de queijo, which were actually hollow on the inside, and the eggplant anti pasti which came with sultanas and raisins. And that sketchy man in the picture, and his date who is hiding behind the breadsticks kept looking at me all the time. It was annoying, but whatever, if I want to eat alone, I'll eat alone, so let me be (not that I had a choice, haha)

Appetizer: Heart of palm roasted in a wood burning oven with olive oil and sundried tomatoes

Not those hearts of palm you see at salad bars or that you get in cans. This was the real deal! Pretty much a palm tree trunk, split laterally and carved out of the bark in front of me, topped with tiny pieces of sundried tomatoes, and accompanied by some kind of green whose taste was somewhere between arugula and horseradish; very peppery and little spicy. I was incredulous and my eyes widened when they brought it over, because I did not think I was getting a huge chunk of a palm tree but it was delicious! Soft with an earthy sweetness.
After I devoured it:

Entrée: Master Prime Beef (medium) with Souffle Potatoes

Another one of those “OMG WHAT ON EARTH DID I JUST ORDER”. Look at that thing, ITS HUGE! I couldn’t stop myself from laughing when I was being served. But oh my, was this ever good. Look at the char marks! The huge bone! The piece of meat! The potatoes! Who cares about the salad on the side?! Salty crunchy crust with a juicy buttery inside...mmm. Although my jaw started hurting from all the chewing cause it was so much meat! The soufflé potatoes were essentially two pieces of potato chips stuck together on the sides and filled with air. Maybe the best potato chips I’ve ever had.
But poor meat, look what happened to it after I was through:

Dessert: They gave me the menu but I knew better. I headed straight to the dessert buffet! Over 25 different kinds of dessert! I steered clear of the chocolate ones, and tried to stick with ones that seemed more exotic or what I couldn’t get in NYC. So no to brownies and chocolate cake but yes to passion fruit mousse, dulce de leche, whipped cheese with guava syrup and coconut pudding!

I couldn’t get a good shot of my plate but the best were the whipped cheese thing in the little bowl and the passion fruit mousse.

And, as luck would have it, while I was pigging out at the dessert buffet all by myself, a group of model-like girls sat at a table near mine so I had to walk past them with my overfilled plate of sugar and cream. What a fail. But it was so worth it!

No comments:

Post a Comment