I have often passed by this restaurant converted from an old house and thought to visit. So when my guest and I were looking for a spot for dinner, we made this our destination. Not to mention I have not dabbled in enough Brazilian cuisine, and thought this would be a good reintroduction.
From my initial sightings to today’s visit, the restaurant has erected a tent to enclosed their front yard patio. In doing so they can now offer additional seating under the warmth of heat lamps and plastic. Although this does take away from the restaurant’s exterior aesthetic that once was: a striking yellow and green façade visible from the road. It no longer draws the eyes as an interesting discovery, but instead distracts as an eye sore. However, in truth that does not matter much as Boteco still saw many of their seats inside and out filled with international students, during our visit.
Given the chill of the early spring day, I opted to dine in. The exterior was painted in yellow with green accents, in celebration of the culture and cuisine. There were also plenty of Brazilian flags and souvenir chachki hung along the walls. It all spoke to the casual nature of the restaurant and its staff. And it was all fine and dandy outside of the smell. The space was small and the scent of aged material lingered, most likely due to all the cooking in a home not designed with commercial air flow in mind.
We ordered a few items to share, not coming into this with much expectations, but leaving slightly disappointed, given the amount we spent on food that was more like simple home cooking.
The Queijo Coalho is basically Brazilian Grilled Cheese bites, though instead of gooey stringy cheese they use a firm, but very lightweight cheese that is common in Northeastern Brazil. It is served with sweet and spicy house made pepper jelly for dipping. I liked the idea, but just wished that the cheese was saltier and sharper to best contrast the sweet jelly. Or the offered it with a tomato based sauce; either to help inject some tangy acid into an otherwise basic dish. Worth noting that this does cool down quick and when it does, the texture of the mini cheeses change. It becomes hard and dense, whereas you want it warm and crispy like other grilled cheeses.
The Coxinha comes 4 pieces to an order. This is one of the most popular Brazilian snacks, easily identified by its tear shaped deep fried. It is best described as a crispy potato-based croquette stuffed with shredded chicken and spices. As is I found it tasty, but dry. The chicken could have used some mayo or a cream based sauce as a binder. The side of garlic dipping this came with was completely necessary to inject flavour and moisture to an otherwise flat appetizer.
We were interested in the Caldo Verde reading that it was their daily soup of the day (each day gets its own soup). However we learned that they were made in bulk, then frozen, then defrosted and reheated on the day of serving. And if you are going to have it, or anything at a restaurant I prefer it to be made fresh to order. So we passed on this.
The Bobo de Camarão is seasoned shrimp in a creamy coconut milk-based stew made with red palm oil, cassava root, celery and bell peppers. Served over a basmati rice with your choice of mixed greens salad or fries.
I thought fries were a weird pairing for such a heavy dish, but glad we ordered it, as they ended up being our favourite item. They were well crisped and breaded for an interesting uneven texture. As for the curry, it was a nice mild representation, and a very familiar flavour. Similar to Singaporean style curry with the use of coconut milk. I did enjoy it with the soften potatoes, but found the cost steep at $19.25.
Similarly, we felt like we paid too much for the Picanha. For $26.75 we got their 8oz special Brazilian cut sirloin steak, seasoned with sea salt. Served with basmati rice, brown beans, crispy fries, farofa (toasted cassava flour); and vinaigrette salsa if tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. The steak was delicious, but given the type of restaurant, this is not what you would typically invest in. To their credit it was well prepared a pinky medium rare and tender with all the excess fat.
And I did enjoy the traditional practice of mixing rice and beans together with the cassava flour dust. It added a nice textured chunky chew, alongside bits of salty bacon. Together, it made the dish that much more authentic. Glad we took the time to ask about the farofa, as it was not explained to us when the plate came to the table.
Dining with a 6 year old meant that dessert was a must and it had to be two servings because she did not want to share her Bolo Prestígio. Chocolate cake with “beijinho” filling and “brigadeiro” topping with shredded coconut. For me it was a pretty standard not too sweet chocolate cake. Fluffy sponge, airy cream, and shredded coconut for a different textural component.
I preferred the Mousse de Maracujá, a classic mousse made with passion fruit juice, heavy cream and condensed milk. This made for a nice creamy end to our meal, heightened by the use of real passion fruit throughout.
In conclusion the food was good, a little pricy for what it was, but given that there isn’t too many options for Brazilian cuisine in the Lower Mainland, it is worth checking out to see if it is your cup of tea.
Boteco Brasil Restaurant
2545 Nanaimo St, Vancouver, BC V5N 5E6