If you think Brazilian cuisine is all about churrascarias, then think again. The opening of Rio Boteco in the Institute of Light in Hackney is going to change your perception of what Brazilian food is all about. Whilst the timing might be perfect as the pop-up is opening to coincide with the Rio Olympics, the location isn’t the easiest to get to in Hackney unless you live in East London.
It is based at the Institute of Light which is actually a record store in the daytime and is transformed into a restaurant and bar in the nighttime. Fitting in with the artistic and quirky nature of the area, there is also an independent pop-up cinema showing vintage Brazilian classic films, as well as key events during the Olympics. Also do check out their website or call them to find out about special events like their parties for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
There wouldn’t be a carnival atmosphere without a great selection of refreshing Brazilian cocktails. There is naturally a fine choice of caipirinhas like their summer special with raspberries and blackberries. Other options are suitably named Duchess of Ipanema, Copacabana and samba spritz. Even their espresso martini uses delicious Brazilian coffee.
We tried an excellent selection of their tapas dishes which are meant to represent the best street food offerings in Brazil such as pastel and bacalhau. However, the quality is so high, the dishes wouldn’t look out-of-place even if you served it at a top hotel restaurant. The pastry is the pastel is as crispy and delicate as you will find anywhere in Brazil with the shrimp moist and plump tasting. The bacalhau has the rich saltiness from the cod-fish in making the potato and cod-fish balls as well as zestiness from the orange pepper sauce.
The Vaca Malandra is the most popular dish on their menu and it isn’t hard to understand why. The slow cooked, short ribs on the bone is simply the best version of this dish you will find in the UK and Brazil: whether it is the melt in the mouth nature of the meat, the vibrancy of the sauce or the buttery cassava gratin. My only dilemma is to decide whether I order this same dish again or try some of their other excellent dishes when I visit them again. Their fish, coconut and palm oil curry is a very typical traditional Brazilian offering.
The Brazilian crème caramel I tried was a sturdy effort although it was going to be tricky to reach the same heights as the starters and main course. At Rio Boteco, they have done a stunning job in offering dishes you would not normally be able to find on the London restaurant scene. Make a beeline to the restaurant today, before they close at the end of the Olympics.