I'm pretty sure that every time I walk along 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen I discover at least 2 or 3 new restaurants and bars. I'm not sure if that's because the neighborhood is becoming more desirable or because the theater crowd is picky about their dining establishments, leading to a high turnover rate. Regardless of the reason, I'm thrilled that Brasilina opened up shop late last year between 55th and 54th Streets.
Getting invited to a Brazillian restaurant in one of the busiest neighborhoods in town led me to believe I was going to one of those joints with the giant meat-filled swords where they keep pushing the chicken and sausages on you over the steak because they are cheaper (you know what I'm talking about and you love them too). However, I was pleasantly surprised to walk into Brasilina on a Sunday night to find live music, a wall of windows splayed open to the warm summer air, and a very friendly hostess eager to show us to our seats.
We were served the house yucca chips with olive oil and herb butter.along with our caipirinhas and as someone who normally doesn't like the slightly woody taste of yucca, I can tell you that I loved these. I had to remind myself I had a full meal coming and to stop eating them. The caipirinhas were delicious as well -- as authentic as I had in Portugal (the two cuisines are practically one in the same if you didn't know).
|Me with my Caipirinha|
For starters, we ordered the Salgados, an assorted plate of Brazilian croquettes filled with chicken "coxinha," beef "kibe," and codfish "bolinho de bacalhau," and the Pastel , a plate of assorted light crusted empanadas filled with ground beef and cheese with house vinaigrette, per our waitresses suggestion.
There should really be a drumroll before the main course is served here. Seriously. They bring out my Moqueca in a large metal cauldron on a giant wood plank and seriously I have no clue how I'm ever going to finish it. However, with one bite of the cod and shrimp stew served, "pirão," and cajun nuts over jasmine rice I know I sure well am going to try. Moqueca is something else I discovered in Portugal and it might be one of my favorite meals ever. It's made with coconut milk and sweet peppers and served with Brazilian bread crumbs made from yucca to thicken up the stew. Alas, I did not finish it, but I had the best lunch in the office the next day.
My dining partner loves a good steak and was tipped off by Brazilian tourists at the next table over that the Picanha Fatiada was the best cut of meat to order. It was served in a sizzling pan with white rice, black beans, and collard greens, and it was A LOT of meat. The steak was super juicy and tender, but the only thing I'll complain about in the whole meal was the collard greens served with it. They seemed like almost a vegetable afterthought, and something a little more tasty would have been nice.
After this feast of a meal, we sadly had to turn down dessert, but I was tipped off that the Brigadeiro, a dark Valrhona chocolate and white coconut chocolate truffle of sorts with reduced condensed milk, was the way to go.
Brasilina would be great for a Sunday supper like we did (you can't beat live music!), but it would also be nice for a pre-theater or even celebratory dinner. The prices were reasonable as well, especially for the amount of food you are served. I'll definitely be back. Obrigada (thank you in Portuguese) for a wonderful meal!