One of the pleasures of surveying and sampling the local restaurant scene is discovering new and often exotic places to eat. Our shrinking world and the divergent trends in an everchanging marketplace add an extra dash of excitement to this pleasurable gastronomic journey.
I certainly could not have predicted several years back that one stop along the way on the Wasatch Front would be a Brazilian restaurant. I just hope for its hungry and/or curious clientele that Brazilian Brothers Restaurant on Main Street gets its sign up soon. After all, Brazil might be one of South America's, if not the world's, most recognizable countries, by sheer size alone. And this little eatery featuring the specialties of Brazil should share in some of that recognition.Formerly the Wizard Deli, the Brazilian Brothers restaurant (at least as of this week) had not hoisted a sign to announce its arrival on the restaurant scene. But for a little over two months, they have served a mix of Brazilian specialties as well as kept the deli sandwiches from the prior establishment's menu. Even without a neon logo, they are definitely open for business.
I learned about Brazilian Brothers from a colleague at the Deseret News who is always on the lookout for a different wrinkle at lunch. Open only for lunch and breakfast during the week, the offerings might appear somewhat sparse at first. But don't underestimate the colorful and celebratory persuasion in the cuisine itself. A simple lunch visit, when combined with the pulsating beat of the samba music in the background, as well as the friendly advice and explanations of the staff, was transformed into a festive occasion. Of course, the five dishes we sampled, three of the five flavorful Brazilian specials and two of the desserts, were the main ingredients in the small feast.
The national dish of Brazil is Feijoada, an exhuberant mixture of black beans, meats and vegetables. The Feijoada ($4.35 and pronounced "fejwahda") served at Brazilian Brothers uses slices of an all-beef sausage and chunks of beef rather than pig parts that make up the traditional version. In addition to the soupy black beans in which the meats are cooked, a tomato and onion salsa, collard greens and Farofa or ground cassava meal, accompany the beans in a large soup bowl. They should be mixed together and eaten with the kind of gusto one associates with the parties of Rio de Janeiro, where the dish originated.
The other specials were just as satisfying, though not quite as complex. We enjoyed the Frango a Baina, marinated breast of chicken wrapped with a bacon slice and served with Greek-style rice and a luscious potato salad. The Paulista, thinly sliced marinated steak and covered with grilled onions, served with rice, French fries and whole pinto beans, was enjoyable as well.
Other specialties include Nhoque, potato dumplings covered with Mozarella cheese, served with garlic bread and a salad, and Bractiola, rolled steak filled with vegetables and served with rice and potato salad. Each of the specials costs $3.95. Guarana (89 cents), a carbonated drink from Brazil's Amazon with a slightly tart taste, is also served.
A deliciously sweet coconut custard dessert, Quidins, and Manjar, a coconut milk cake, brought our festive lunch to a fitting finale.
The specials served at Brazilian Brothers reflect the diverse elements that make up Brazilian cuisine - Indian (manioc or Farofa), African (coconuts), and Portuguese (custard style desserts). The ownership - three brothers from Brazil and their families - plans to expand the menu as well as hours, perhaps keeping step with the trends predicted in the current issue of Cook's Magazine. The editors foresee Brazilian cuisine as one of the cooking styles likely to rise to prominence in the next decade. Brazilian Brothers' beginnings in Salt Lake City are a good step in that direction.
Brazilian Brothers Restaurant, 144 S. Main; 328-9342. Open from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. No credit cards. Checks accepted with guarantee card. Fresh bakery goods, catering and free delivery in the downtown area.