2008 São Paulo, Brasil Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

São Paulo, Brasil Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM
Exchange Rate: Reais $1.66 = US $1
(stars da qualidade da cozinha by Guia Quatro Rodas Brasil 2008)

During our 10 days in São Paulo , we searched out the creative, modern new chefs and we were rewarded with exciting food. The devaluation of the dollar and the soaring value of the real means that we paid first world prices in a third world country. So we ate well but also suffered from price shock. Here are our restaurant reviews:

1 Our Favorites

1.1 *Brasil a gosto, R. Prof. Azevedo do Amaral 70, Jardin Paulista, tel (55-11) 3086-3565, web: www.brasilagosto.com.br de Ana Luiza Trajano, who is the chef and owner. (Luciana Chedid (lucianachedid@uol.com.br) is the charming and attentive maître of the front of the house. It calls itself Casa de cozinha e cultura brasileira nos jardins. We spent R$192.50 including R$17.50 troco/tip for one of the best and most enjoyable meals of our lives. The space is gorgeous and the tables and chairs are comfortable and well-spaced. The food is creative, imaginative, delicous and beautifully presented. The service was excellent, both from the wait-staff but more importantly for English speakers, from Luciana. .And, last but not least, the value for the money was one of the highest we have experienced. Rating: 10/10

We asked if we could share one degustation menu and the chef agreed. The couvert: (2 x R$8 = R$16) included manico grissini and 4 kinds of bread (corn, cheese, butter and 1 other), the special white cheese (that may be called coalhada) and a garlic butter. It was a lovely way to start the meal. For the degustation menu (R$110) our 1st course was a beautiful plate that had a special manioc fish ball from the Amazon, a fish and calamari with 3 sauces one spicey, one red and one crab; the dish was great. The 2nd course was truly exception: it had lagostino, a salad and underneath was a nutty combination of beans, onions and nuts. The 3rd course had 2 kinds of fish: one cooked in herbs in a banana leaf on grilled palmito called “pupunha”, the other grilled and sitting on vegetable, with 2 kinds of patato purée. We enjoyed this dish very much even though we were getting stuffed! The dessert was a caqui fruit served slightly cooked and surrounded by meringue, accompanied by 2 chocolate tarts and 2 guava/cream tarts. Our decaffeinated coffees (R$8) were accompanied by a small sweet made of coconut that we have had before and liked. We ordered a Casa Valduga Gewurztraminer from Brasil 2007 (Vale dos Vinhedos) R$47 and we were surprised at how good it was.

1.2 Mercado Municipal Paulista (arquiteto Ramos de Azevedo), Rua da Cantareira 306. . (www.mercadomunicipal.com.br) We loved this market and we managed to eat half a Sanduiche de Mortadela that was surprisingly good. Rating: 7.5/10
If you like dried fruit, try the mixed dried fruit/mix de frutas secas tropical at Emporio Chiappetia Ltda, www.chiappella.com.br

1.3 St. Tropez de Todos os Santos (a new vision of Brasilian food, emphasizing seafood with a Mediterranean accent), R. Haddock Lobo 1157, Jardin Paulista, tel 3083-1134 We had a wonderful meal in this restauant (which in April '08 had only been open for 47 days) and spent a total of R$174.24 (including the automatically added tip of 10%). The decor is imaginative and the service is quite good. We hope that this restaurant does well because the meal we had was exceptional and enjoyable. Rating: 8.5/10
We had 2 couvert (R$9.50 x2 = R$19) which was bread with 3 different types of oils (too expensive for what was offered). We ordered the Brasilian Marson Reserva Chardonnay (R$39) and liked it. We shareed the Casquinha do Hiltinho (R$14) which was a mixture of crab and fish prepared with coconut milk and baked in a clam shell and finished at the table with a flourish of olive oil. For our main we shared a boullabaisse tropical (R$58) that was excellent. It was described as "ensopado de peixes ao acafrao, camaroes, batatas cozida e rouille de mandioca, finaliza a mesa com azeite”. For dessert we had Yémanjar (R$15) which was also very good. It was described as "delicioso majar de tapioca com calde de ameixas". We also had 2 decaffeinated espressos (R$3 x 2= R$6) that came with small chocolate mingardise. The meal was excellent and enjoyable.

Good Restaurants

2.1 * Acrópoles, Rua da Graça 364, Bom Retiro, tel 3223-4386 (Trassyvoulos Petrakis). We were treated to this restaurant by our friends who were impressed that we found this Greek restauant in Sao Paulo. Consequently we can’t comment on the price of the dishes. We had a fun time in this old-fashioned restauant and the owner is great. According to the Greek expert in the family, however, the food was not very authentic. Rating: 6.5/10

2.2 AK Delicatessen (de Andrea Kaufmann), R. Mato Grosso 540, Higienôpolls, tel. (55-11)3231-4497 We spent R$212.30, including a 10% tip for a nice neighborhood restauant. We went there on the first night of Pessach/Passover and we hoping that they would have some of the special dishes for that holiday. We ordered off the menu and were able to create our own holiday meal. The service was good and the room is nice. There was a crying baby in the room and, when we complained, to the waiter the couple moved downstairs. That is a first! Rating: 7/10
We ordered a Altos Los Hormigas '06 Malbec (R$57) and agua (x 2 = R$5). The Couvert (x 2 = R$16) incuded chopped liver, a chopped egg dip "eggs of mâmae", and a cucumber dip, with bread and matzo) and we enjoyed it. Then we shared 1 gefilte fish (R$8.50), which was good but not as good a Z Deli’s. We shared 1 chicken soup with matzoh ball (R$21). The matzoh ball was hard but the soup was good. We ordered 1 shot of borscht with lakkes (R$12) that was very good. 1 Mish Mash AK R$42 (which is grilled fois gras over tomago (a Japanese omlette), reducao de Roma, azeite de dill e baguel chips) that was excellent, 100 gr Pastrami da casa (R$12.30) that was also excellent, and 2 burekas (one with cheese and tomato coulis and one with potato and cebola) (R$7) that we shouldn’t have ordered but were good (and we were charged for 3!) We had a nice time trying all of the little dishes we ordered but the meal was too expensive for what it was.

2.3 Brasserie Victória, cozinha Arabe/Arabic-Lebanese, Av. Juscelino Kubitchek 545, Itaim Bibi (CEP 045430011), Tel: (55-11) 3845- 8897. We spent R$114.62 including 10% tip and it was very good. The service was okay. We wanted sit in the nice dining room (reserved for the set menu) not the café but we wanted to order from the menu. We had to get special permission from the manager to do that but after some discussion, he agreed. In any event we’ll give the restaurant a Rating: 7/10
We ordered too much but we wanted to try lots of their dishes. We had esf. folhada aberta R$4, kibe cru (R$17) that was huge and delicous, mahamara R$17, which is a red pepper blended with sesame paste and spices and was also delicious, coalhada com pepino R$12,a youghert that was also very good, Xisbarak R$17, a Lebanese soup with ground beef stuffed tortolini cooked in a youghert broth and seasoned with mint, garlic and salt. It was excellent and not found on many menus. We ordered 2 pita (R$1.60), Chopp x 3 = R$11.10, 1 cha/tea R$3, and Mahalabie (R$7.50), a Middle Eastern dessert that is very difficult to find and was pronouced as very good by the expert at the table.

2.4 Caruzzo, a casa amarela. A melhor opcao para seu almoco. Av. Sao Gabriel 10, Itaim Bibi (CEP 01435-000), Tel 3051- 4401. We loved this por kilo restaurant. It is simple, honest and the people who run it are a delight. They provide free Brazilian coffee and liquors too. We had 2 salads for R$14. Rating (for what it is) 8/10.

2.5 Colher de Pau, Rua Dr. Mario Ferraz 563, Itaim Bibi, Tel (55-11) 3168-8068, e-mail: colherdepau.sp@uol.com.br, web: www.colherdepau.com.br We spent a total of R$151.03 including 10% tip and it was very good. We went because it is described as Northeastern Brazilian in the Guia Quatro Rodas Brasil 2008 and we weren’t disappointed. Rating: 7/10
The couvert for (R$6.80 x 2 = R$13.60) was for butter and 2 dips that were good. For our starter we had Tapioca Carne de sol com requeijoa norte (R$11.30) and we liked it. For our main we had Moqueca for 2 (stew Brazilian style) with fish (amarado) + shrimp cooked in a coconut milk and Brazilian plam oil. It was served with pirao (manioc flour thickened broth) + rice + farofa (farina) de dende (R$97.40). The service and space were good.
2.6 Espaco Arabe, Oscar Freire, Jardin Paulista. We spent a total of R$98.72, including 10% tip. We ordered a Uxmal Malbec R$39, mini kibe R$ 6.90, a tabule R$11, ragu de cordeiro R$32, and pao arabe. We were surprised that the food was a s good as it was at this very casual place. Rating:6/5/10

2.7 Hillman Restaurant, George V Residence Casa Branca. Alameda Casa Braca 909 (01408-001) Sao Paulo, SP, tel (55-11) 3067-6000, web: www.george-v.com.br. Although expensive, the space is nice and Tatiana, the woman in charge of the restaurant, is attentive and delightful. We spent R$41.80, including the tip. Rating: 7/10
We had two very good soups, one a Creme de legumes light (R$19) and the other creme de mandioquinha, a Brazilian vegetable (R$19).

2.8 **Mani, cozinha contemporânea (de Helena Rizzo e Daniel Redondo), Rua Joaquim Antunes 210, Jardim Paulistano, tel (55-11) 3085-4148, web: www.restaurantemani.com.br The total was R$271.65, including a 10% tip. The tables are too small for the food and too close together, the chairs are wooden and uncomfortable, the design is not inspired, The restaurant is not cozy, it’s cramped. The light fixtures look retro from a NYC diner in the 50's. The one English speaker who could explain the dishes, often was not available. There was a lot of running around by the wait-staff. So, no matter how good the food was, this restaurant does not live up to its hype. Rating: 6/10
We asked and were allowed to share 1 Menu Degustaçao de Helena Rizzo e Daniel Redondo (R$151). We ordered an Altos Las Hormigas (R$66), agua x 3 = R$10.50 as well as the couvert (2 x R$9.50 = R$19). For the couvert we were served tapioca shavings, butter, curdled milk and fresh goat cheese. The degustation menu began with an innovative salad which was called Waldorf, the next course was scallop tartar with cardomon, caramel and peanut milk foam, an extra course was served third: it was boiled potatoes filled with cheese and topped with chives (this we could have lived without). Served fourth was "egg perfecto" which is cooked to 63 degrees C for 2.5 hours with foam attached to pununha. This was easily the best and most innovative dish. Served fifth was Mani-ocas, an oven baked root with coconut milk, cassava juice and white truffled olive oil which was good. Served sixth was the atun with quinoa, blackberry chutney, ginger foam and shissô; this was very good. Served seventh was the duck breast with fresh palmito, ciboulette and orange sauce; also very good. Two desserts were served, one called The Egg Dessert, which was egg nog ice cream with coconut foam and coconut crisps. The other was a coffee ice cream with coffee gel and cream. They don't have decaffeinated coffee. It was a lot of food (there would have been no way we could have done justice to two menus) and it was very good but not great.

2.9 Restaurante Sendai, Rua da Gloria 148, Liberdade, tel. (55-11) 3241-1129, web: www.restaurantesendai.com.br We spent R$27.50, including an automatic 10% for servico/tip for lunch and it was authentic and delcious. The space is small and very Japanese-looking. Rating: 8/10
We had 2 Tyawan-Mushi/chawan mushi (ova batido, recheado com peixe, karnaboko, camarao shitake e cozido a banno maria), a very difficult to find savory custard and we were thrilled. (R$12.50 x 2 = R$25 + R$2.50 = R$ 27.50).

2.10 *Thai Gardens Restaurant, Av. 9 Julho 5871 (CEP 01407-200) Jardim Paulista, tel (55-11) 3073-1507, e-mail: saopaulo@thaigardensgroup.com web: www.thaigardensgroup.com We spent R$138.50 including an automatic 10% tip. We were disappointed but it wasn’t bad. Rating: 6/10
Added to our bill were 2 couvert (x R$6 = R$12) and we don’t remember what was offered so it couldn’t have been that good. We ordered 1 three-course menu “Songkran” which was good, not great (R$48), 1 Som Tam (stir fry veggies) R$28 which was okay but didn’t have enough of an authentic taste, 3 cha natural (x $R4.50 = R$13.50), 1 boheimia beer (R$6.50), 1 Khao Niaio (sticky rice and mango) R$18.

2.11 Z Deli, Alameda Lorena 1689, Jardin Paulista, Tel (55-11) 3088-5644. this is a wonderful Kosher lunch place but very expensive. We spent R$56 for 2 pieces of gefilte fish, 1 salad, 1 waler, 2 cafe, and 1 studel). The woman who owns it was there and was charming. Rating: 7/10

3. We Would Not Recommend

3.1 ***D.O.M., R. Barao de Capanema 549, (01411-011) Jardins Paulista, tel (55-11) 3088-0761, e-mail: dom@domrestaurante.com.br, and web: www.domrestaurante.com.br We spent R$387.52, an eyepopping US$233.45 for one degustcao menu of 4 courses, plus cheese and dessert (R$195). We ordered one bottle of Alta Vista Malbec '05 R$115 (more expensive than it was worth), 2 agua R$8, and 2 couvert 2 x R$14 = R$28. The room is nice but the banquette is not comfortable. The one English speaker, Mariana, at the front of the house is very good (e-mail: marifeltran@hotmail.com) and attentive in describing dishes. The manager is an old-fashioned grump. The meal got off to an in-auspicious start when we requested to have only one degustation menu. Mariana said that was not permitted because the meal is perfectly calabrated for one appetite. We told her that we can't each eat a whole meal and that we have been able to split one degustastion menu everywhere else we had asked. We asked her to ask the Chef, Alex Atala. She said he was in London so she asked the manager. The manager said no. When we told them we were only going to order one degustation menu and share it at our table (or leave), they relented. We were able to tell the kitchen that we prefer fish (to meat) for the menu. The one degustation menu, by the way, was too much food for us and very easy for us to share ourselves (allowing the kitchen to create and present the dish perfectly as conceptualized). Interestingly, Alex Atala was in London getting a Restaurant Magazine award for 40th best restaurant (out of 50) in the world for 2008. He had been down-graded from 2007 when D.O.M. was 38th. We don’t think the restaurant should be on the list at all. We think that Alex has lost whatever “touch’ he had. The meal had some good dishes but overall is was not good and certainly D.O.M. should not have 3 stars da qualidade da cozinha by Guia Quatro Rodas Brasil 2008. Rating: 5/10
The couvert (about which the Economist Magazine City Guide São Paulo said: "His food generally lives up to the hype, except the couvert, a rather bland offering that should be declined.") included bread, roasted garlic, a good yoghurt, a Brazilian roasted pepper and a tuna fish salad (that Dimitri said tasted like canned) with a kind of unusual herb in it. (R$14 x 2 =R$28). We ordered an Alta Vista Gran Reserva ’05 (R$115). It was served at 16° (we were told) and it was too cold. The first course of the degustation menu was very good. It was called "Jambo" and Flowers Salad with fish and squid in a delicious orange sauce with flower shavings on top. We also liked the second plate: the Foie gras was good with cruchy wild rice, hazelnut, cambuci sorbet in an excellent consommé of bonito. The third plate we did not like (and had it been on the menu we would have told Mariana to exclude it). It was a bacalhau with soy sauce, tapenade, breadcrumbs and tomato. We have never liked bacalao and we can’t say whether this dish would be considered good by an aficionado. The next plate was on the menu and described as: “Sous Vide Cooked Zebu Hump with mashed potatoes, perfumed with pequi”. The cooking process is supposed to get rid of the fat on this piece of shoulder meat. It did not. It was like eating a piece of gelatinous fat. This was not a good dish. The next plate was a pasty potato concoction that was served, with a flourish, as if it was dondurma ice cream from Turkey. It was cold and the texture and taste were awful. The dessert was an ice cream with a flavor that we couldn’t identify. We didn’t ask whether the restauant has decaffeinated coffee, we just wanted to get out.
Dimitri and Audre were volunteers at the Bon Appétit Culinary & Wine Focus in Beaver Creek, CO in January, 2009. Since we wanted to go (but didn’t want to pay the hefty admission fee) we were able to get accepted as volunteers for that. On the first night, there were just appetizers offered before the Mary Wilson performance. Dimitri was assigned to help Alex Atala from D.O.M. in Sao Paulo (in the review above as item 3.1), because of his ability to speak Brazilian. Alex was making a fois gras pâté tidbit with beet root foam on top. It was very elaborate; he was working in front of the crowd and he was talking to them. He was quite professional and quite charming. It is too bad that we weren’t impressed with the food at his restaurant last year. As a celebrity chef he spoke English and Dimitri just enjoyed the show and talking to the paying guests. We both had a good time and tried all of the tidbits, of course. Alex Atala’s were the best. Another Brazilian chef, Mara Salles (from Tordesilhas, Sao Paulo), made a typical Paulista dish that was very good. Shawn McClain (from Chicago)’s tidbits were quite good too. The chef that I was assigned to, Joey Campanaro (from Little Owl and the Market Table in the Village) contributed the least inspired tidbits.

3.2 Trattoria do Guappo and Pizzaria Michelangelo Shopping Center Norte, www.trattoria.com.br For two salads at the buffet, one at 350 gr. and one at 500 gr., we paid R$46 (with 1 water). Totally overpriced for what it was and where it was. Rating: 5.5/10

4 Other restaurants that were recommended to us by Tatiana (at the Residence George V Restaurant called Hillman) that we didn’t have a chance to try:

4.1 Brasserie Paulistta (French food with a modern face). Al. Itú 1088, tel 3085-9135

4.2 Ici Bristro, R. Pará 36, tel 3259-6896

4.3 Lucca (Italian food but not so strong; original menu), Rua Sabuji 20, tel 3814-1240

4.4 Café Med (new with french and Mediterranean tendencies), Av. Faria Lima 2900, tel 3079-0391