Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Brasil - Rio de Janeiro


On our trips to Rio de Janeiro, the one restaurant that we have started to think of as "our living room" is Garota. Mauricio is from Rio, a true carioca. This was a place he would frequent before moving to the U.S.


Situated in the tranquil neighborhood of Urca, it has an extensive menu and a beautiful view of  Enseada de Botafogo (Botafogo Cove) and Cristo (Chris the Redeemer), and the waiters still wear button-down shirts and dress pants. As a tourist, Urca is the one neighborhood where I always feel safe. You see local residents with their families out for dinner, and in the early afternoon can see the neighborhood children walking home from school.

If you read comments and reviews online, it seems Garota is popular with tourists as a pizzeria. Yes, the sign outside says "Restaurante, Bar, Pizzaria" but I have never eaten pizza there. Anyone who has gone to Garota and has not experienced the authentic Brazilian food, has wasted a trip. Or more correctly, should go again!

When you arrive and select a table, unless you actually think you have to wait for one to be selected for you, one of the waiters will place a paper table cover on your table. While this may make you think less of the place, there is a purpose for these specific covers. You see, there is a drink in Rio called "chopp". Pronounced "show-pee". It is a light beer served very cold, usually in small cups. You can order large or half chopp. Using this paper, you can keep track of how many chopp you and your party have consumed! See below.

Yes, there are times when we have to add numbers depending on how many hours we have spent there and how many people have stopped by. This is a fun way to keep tabs on your tab. 

The Steak

Ok, so after you have settled in with your chopp, you have a lot of options on the extensive menu. All the dishes come with several large sides. By the way, the menu has an English translation. If you love steak, as we do, here is all you need to know - 


As you can see, they bring a gas powered flat iron to your table loaded with meat. If you like it rare, pull everything off and then put back the pieces individually to cook. Just look at how beautiful that is. You will pay a fraction of the price you would pay at one of those touristy churrascarias like Fogo de Chão. There is nothing quite like a Brazilian picana. Any steak lover should experience this.

After you have eaten your fill, and are ready to sit back with your chopp, ask the bartender if you can take your chopp over to the wall. Sit down and join the dozens of cariocas who have arrived at dusk to meet up with their amigos and have a few drinks at the water's edge. Then you will have experienced the real, authentic Urca.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ireland - Dublin


Our trip to Dublin in June 2017 was not so much a steak-finding adventure as a search for the perfect pint. Of course, those can be found in thousands of pubs scattered across the city. Ireland is not known for world class steak but we were able to find some acceptable entrees.

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin

We often eat at the bar in any restaurant or hotel that offers one. On our last night in Dublin, we opted to stay in and try the steak. Our intentions were to select from the early bird menu, which advertised two courses for 2 courses for €22 or 3 courses for €25.  The only steak on the menu at the hotel's V'nV Restaurant is an 8 oz Golden Vale Prime Rib Eye for €26 but you must add a €7 supplement if you choose this during early bird hours. After a very confusing explanation from the waitress, we opted to go to the bar. 

There were three options on the bar menu. We ordered the 9 oz Golden Vale Prime Rib Eye Steak, and the 10 oz Golden Vale Beef Kansas Steak. The experience was hit and miss, literally. 

Radisson Blu, Dublin

The 9oz Golden Vale Prime Rib Eye is not prime rib, nor is it "prime" beef.  It is a rib eye, probably "choice" beef at most. It was not the best rib eye we've ever had but it was decent for the price. The chef prepared it perfectly - medium rare, a little on the rare side. It was €25 on the menu, €1 less than the 8oz at the restaurant. That's about $30.00 USD at the time of this writing.

The 10oz Golden Vale Beef Kansas Steak was another story. We are not quire sure what this cut was. It was much thinner than the rib eye. It was also tough and over cooked. At €27, nothing about this steak was acceptable. After just a few bites, it was sent back. We did not ask for a replacement. The chef did come out to apologize and offer to make something else. He acknowledged after looking at the steak, it was overcooked. It is always nice when the restaurant tries to make good on it's mistakes.

An altogether different experience is to found at The Brazen Head.

They advertise that they are Ireland's oldest pub, established in 1198. We were not there for the food. Instead we had many, many pints and listened to authentic Irish music (which is a nightly event).

We did wind up ordering off the a la Carte menu one evening. We opted for the Medallions of Beef. This is everything you expect from Irish beef medallions. They come with hearty sauce and are served over mashed potatoes. The meat pulled apart and texture was excellent. Perfect food for the dreary, chilly Dublin night. It was only €24.50, filling and yum yum good!