Brazil, Take 2

2007.Jun.27 Wednesday · 6 comments

in Restaurants

“The virtue of authenticity is that it doesn’t change in the course of time.”

– Eric Hauser, public relations

Buenos Aires – I’ve been meaning to check out the little Brazilian spot off the corner of Plaza Palermo Viejo for some time now. Our recent dinner featuring dishes inspired by Brazilian seafood recipes brought it to mind again – and off we went for lunch last week. Me leva Brasil, Costa Rica 4488, 4832-4290, is a charming little spot, with a few tables outside in nice weather, and a sort of thrown together homey ambiance inside. While friendly, the staff are remarkably inattentive, enough so that a gentleman who appeared to be the owner, more than once went to the bar where the waiter was hanging out and told him to take care of something on one table or another that he’d simply not paid any attention to – like taking an order, clearing plates… The menu is a relatively short affair, listing maybe half a dozen appetizers, a dozen main courses, and a few scattered items of local fare, like hamburgers or sandwiches. The bulk, however, is Brazilian food – mostly, I gather, from the Bahia area. It’s also in Portuguese, with passable translations into Spanish in small print below each item.

Me leva Brasil - empanadinhasWe started off with a plate of empanadinhas, or, I gather, after the fact, “small” empanadas – which they were… we selected the shrimp ones, the other offering being cheese – they’re more like a mini pie with a top crust – in this case filled with a little stew-like mixture that included small bits of shrimp. I must say, that while tasty, they were a little lacking in both inner substance as well as size… especially for eight pesos… when the three of them probably added up to the size of a typical Argentine empanada that would cost only around two. They definitely could have used more shrimp… and more… well, everything. Served up with a nice bottled hot sauce on the side, which I did enjoy.

Caixinha de siriYou may or may not remember (or have just looked at) my reinterpretation, sort of inside out, of the Casquinha de Siri, or as monikered at this spot, Caixinha de Siri. This, I’m sure, is far more authentic – on the other hand, one might note that the entire crab shell is about the same size as one of the tomato slices. Once again tasty, but once again disappointing in terms of quantity. I know crab is expensive here, but for twelve pesos this was really skimpy. Also, honestly, it was packed with more breadcrumbs than anything else, and took over half an hour to arrive (the empanadinhas arrived within a few minutes of our ordering). I’ll stick with my version, thank you very much.

VatapaThis was the dish I was most interested in tasting, a Vatapá. It’s the one I based the risotto on, and that our Brazilian guests told me “captured the flavors really well” – so I was truly curious – especially as it’s a dish I’d never actually tried before making it. Now, assuming that Me leva Brasil makes it relatively authentically, and it does look the way the dish was described in several of the recipes I looked at, it’s more of a stew of shrimp and fish – plenty of each in this case – I’ll give them that the main courses, in quantity, definitely outdo the appetizers. It seems, and I’m basing it on this one version, that the base is all pretty much the stuff that I used – and the flavor was quite similar, though I think they used more of the dende oil than I did – the flavor was much stronger, and so was the intensity of the color – along with the fish, which seems to be cooked down almost to a paste. Then the shrimp are tossed in with this – I’d guess, like I did, that they were cooked separately and then added at last minute. Really quite good, and although I loved my risotto version, this traditional stew is one I’d order again without question.

Me leva Brasil - fried chickenOkay, it’s fried chicken. It’s not fried chicken the way you or I probably think of fried chicken (given the majority of my readers), but it’s what it is. It’s not fried in a crust, it’s marinated and then fried until the chicken itself is a bit on the crispy end of things on the outside, and sort of tender and falling apart inside – it might be that they’re deep frying it, just without a breading. There wasn’t a huge amount of the chicken, but sufficient, and it was served with a mountain of carbs, as you can see – rice, spaghetti, and really good black beans. Make that excellent black beans. I’d order just a plate of the rice and beans as a side to anything else I try there in the future.

So, overall, generally good ratings on the food and ambiance, a bit iffy on the service, and, given the style of the place, a bit on the pricey side – lunch running us nearly 80 pesos. Still, it’s one of the few Brazilian spots in town when you’re in the mood for something different.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

HambreHombre June 28, 2007 at 11:22

mmmm carbie or not that plate of rice, chicken, black beans and sketti looks GOOD!

One favor, would it be possible next time you visit a restaurant to include the menu’s price range in ARS?


dan June 28, 2007 at 11:41

In general I give the prices of what I/we spent, as I did in this writeup, and I usually mention if a place has something like a fixed price menu. I’d say that you can usually estimate from there what you’d spend.

matt June 28, 2007 at 20:03

i used to go here a lot-they make mighty fine caiparihnas (sp?) and the food is ok. The frango a passirhino (again, sp?) is good, as is the fried fish. the mains i always thought weren’t really worth the price. The burger and chips is good value though!

It’s not all that authentic Bahia cuisine. The moqueca de camarao is average and you get about 3 prawns. In Bahia, you get a huge bowl to share with well over 100 prawns and the flavour is much better. Cheaper too. I was back in BA a few weeks ago and the prices of everything on the menu had gone up so much. It’s almost doubled over the past 18 months. I don’t think any of the dishes are worth 35 48 pesos. Those caipas as worth every penny though…

There’s another brazilian place next door to La Cabrera that’s pretty decent but much more formal. I went a few times but haven’t been there in well over a year. If you really want to eat well then head up to Salvador de Bahia-the food is incredible…but you’ll come back a few kilos heavier…if you do ever make it up there, make sure you’re there on a tuesday night as every single week they have a huge street party with stalls, live music and great food.

dan June 29, 2007 at 08:43

Sounds like I should just stick with my versions of the recipes and save the money! Authenticity be damned.

dan August 13, 2008 at 18:54

Dropped by this place again the other day for the first time in about six months. Decided not to stay after looking over the menu – which hasn’t changed other than prices – up roughly 50% from a year ago – that same lunch that ran us 80 pesos the first time would come out to about 115 pesos now – the Vatapá dish by itself was now 60 pesos and the crab appetizer was 20…

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