Enjoy a small taste of Brazil at Melrose's new Rodizio restaurant
If you're in search of hearty Brazilian meals, party vibes and awesome cocktails, this new eatery will satisfy your inner Latina
There are few things that say beach holiday like caipirinhas and samba dancing on the shores of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach – a tricky scenario if you find yourself grinding away at work and life in Johannesburg.
If sun, food and party vibes are what you’re after, the best advice would be to book a one-way ticket to friendly Brazil. If this is not an option, you can always opt to visit the new Rodizio restaurant in Melrose Arch.
Situated on High Street, Rodizio opened in July. The large space boasts bold lime and purple walls, beautiful mosaic and patterned-tile floors, colourful murals of the vibrant Rio de Janeiro and lights covered with would-be lush vegetation. “Tudo Bem”, the familiar Brazilian greeting which translates into “Is everything ok?” illuminates the centre bar.
Forget frozen margaritas. The frozen caipirinhas, available by the glass or the more festive jugs, are an absolute hit: a light, refreshing taste of lime without the sharp alcoholic bite of cachaca. This goes down oh so well with the Brazilian and Latin music that adds to the festive feel – one of the elements I enjoy most about the restaurant.
Consider yourself warned: the portions are very generous. This is the kind of place you come when you are truly hungry. If you fancy a dish to start with, you can expect classics like chicken livers and mussels cooked simply, but well (the extra hot peri peri sauce on the side goes down a treat with the livers, that are served very mild).
My heart fluttered when I read the words “Feijoada Brazileira” on the menu. A traditional stew of black beans with pork or beef, feijoada is a staple in Brazilian cuisine. This particular version was served with pork, chorizo, beef cuts and chicken, without forgetting the farofa (a toasted cassava or corn flour mixture) and white rice.
The more carnivorous patron is in for a treat. Rodizio is named after the restaurant service offered in Brazilian eateries, an all-you-can-eat meat feast. If at first you are confused by the rectangular block found on your table, it serves a very specific purpose: the green side means “bring it on”, while the red side means “stop for now”. And you will need a break from the friendly meat-wielding waiters ready to carve up a slice of the next meat delicacy.
On offer on the night we visited was roast chicken, roast beef, ribeye, leg of lamb, lamb ribs, lamb chops, pork chops and chorizo – none dry or lacking flavour. You will have to pace yourself if you want to try all the meats.
What makes the Melrose incarnation of Rodizio unique to its twin in Bedfordview is Café Rio. A relaxed café at the entrance to the larger restaurant, it offers a bar and coffee counter, and light lunches for visitors during the day.
For the sweet tooth, a string of beautiful cakes and dozens of pasteis de nata are enticing. I had to ask for a second take-away box to sample the black oreo cake with a light cream-cheese icing that I indulged in as a midnight snack (do not judge me: by this time the damage was already done).
As a Brazilian restaurant, I would have liked to see a few more authentic Brazilian offerings on the menu, but if you’re a meat or seafood lover in search of well-prepared, filling and hearty meals, you will enjoy what’s on offer.
Do not be fooled by thinking the large space is overkill. On weekends, the 200 seats scattered across the main floor and the more cosy space upstairs fill up and reservations are essential. The live samba dance demonstration and DJ liven things up and, with a caipirinha in hand, offer a relaxed, festive alternative on the Joburg dining scene.