Review: D.O.M.

17 July 2017

I was still glowing with the porcine goodness of lunch at A Casa do Porco, but we approach the final meal of my time here in São Paulo. And of course it was dedicated to D.O.M. It had to be done, and with all the accolades it should be quite a wonderful meal to end my short stay here in SP.

It was not a long walk, and mostly downhill, so I trekked my way there. A little early, so just hung out a little before they were ready. I headed in, seeing Chef Alex Atala still chilling. I was seated and they recommended a house cocktail, so I went with it.

cocktail

A nice smoky wee cocktail and they vaguely described the dinner, and I was happy to go with the wine pairing. I asked for a bit of time to enjoy my drink before the procession started, and they were happy to do that. Glass was a little too cute tho, it kept rolling away… I chilled out for a bit, and saw Chef Atala head into the kitchen. This should be fun!

I need to apologise for the bad photos as it was dark as Hades in there, and I try to take shots in the dark without the glowing screen annoying other diners, so some didn’t come out well at all… Soon the snacks appeared, starting with a cachaça candy that wasn’t bad…

01-cachaça candy_edited

…then a pepper mouse that was also good, accompanied by a shot of sake inside a pepper… Interesting. So far so good, then the next set of snacks…

03-06-starters

This was a hit-and-miss set. The oyster was was a boozy disaster, the watercress and shrimp was okay, the bottarga not bad, and the piracuru skin pretty nice. I have to say reading the menu after the fact showed the servers didn’t really know what the items are…and sadly, that’s just the start to this rapidly declining evening…

A pour of a nice white and the first larger item arrived, scampi.

07b-prawn_edited

Now for a 2-Michelin and supposed-to-be-one-of-the-best restaurants in the world, this prawn was a cry for help. I don’t think I’ve had a stringier prawn for a decade. It was borderline inedible, horrible quality. Did no one check? My goodness, this was just awful… And of course the servers had no idea what was with the poor creature that may have expired from advanced age…

Then the next course came, shockingly with the server DROPPING silverware on my table instead of placing them. Is this a 2-Michelin place or a hole-in-the-wall? Where did they find these servers?

08-scallop palm heart_edited

This scallop and palm heart dish wasn’t bad, though the herby essence was way too strong and ate way into the natural goodness of the ingredients. Careless stuff by the kitchen. Then some manioc bread that’s just that…

09-manioc

Next…then we revisit palm heart with this raviolo-like thing. Excellent, the dish of the night, lovely stuffing here.

10-palm raviolo

The service has not improved, but at least they’re not dropping silverware on my table anymore after I gave them dirty looks last time they did it… But as with the descriptions they seem to have an “just eat it” attitude when I kept asking for a description more than 3 words…

11-pirarucu

Then the next dish was the piracuru…it really didn’t work. The extremely acidic sauce just destroyed the fish. The pirarucu I had at Tordesilhas yesterday for lunch was far, far better… What in earth is this kitchen thinking? Then the next dish was shrimp and manioc.

12-shrimp

I asked the server what was in this, and he said, “shrimp”… I asked for more details, in Portuguese, and he said he didn’t know and need to ask the kitchen. FFS… I ate this with no glee…really boring. Again, very poor seafood. Is he sourcing this stuff right? The server came back with a mild explanation that didn’t explain anything at all…ain’t that great? The service cannot function in English NOR Portuguese it seems…

13b-chicken okra_edited

Next up in a meal that I’ve lost interest in was a chicken and okra dish. It seems to have various “Asian” touches but this kitchen has absolutely no clue how it works… It’s like a bad dinner at a bad wannabe fusion Asian place… I just tossed down the wines as they came…

14-palm noodle

Then the next dish was another one I wrote down in my notes, “what were they thinking” — palm noodles. These were awful. Again, what I call “faux Asian” in another dish that I would have expected from a chef who has just helmed his first kitchen, not in one with so many accolades…

Ugh…this is basically a cluster. I wasn’t even asking questions anymore as it does no good. This is just going through the motions now. The final savoury is now up — finally…

15-duck

And of course it’s overcooked, the duck… TA DA…am I surprised? No. One of the worst duck dishes I’ve had in years… I just want this to end, and then this…

16-aligot

Really, aligot? Really? A dish on a good day I find disgusting actually turned out quite good. It’s quite sad to say this was one of the best dishes of the night…on something I usually would not touch with a bargepole ala carte… Does that say it all?

17-curd mousse

Next up was curd mousse, which was quite meh…I’m just counting the numbers now…

18-banana lime ravioli_edited

Then a lime and banana “ravioli” dish in a jelly-like thing. Not bad, to be honest. This segment is turning far better than the savouries… And we finally finish with some grilled mango…

19-mango

More like pulverised…and, of course, they bring out a faulty spoon. What a perfect end to this service disaster. Even at last night’s ridiculously bad Rodeio the service was not this pathetic. They were just lazy last night. Tonight is just incompetent, and whoever runs the FoH should be totally ashamed of this. Not even worthy of an Applebee’s…

AND FINALLY, IT’S OVER…

This was just such a crappy evening it’s hard to believe how expensive it is — especially considering we’re in Brazil. This would be considered pricey in many European capitals, and it’s just obscene in a town where some make less than this a month. Sure, if the food and service was up to par, but this was not — not by a long shot. The food is mediocre, the service is piss poor. How they got 2 Michelin stars is beyond me, but it’s places like this that makes Michelin look bad. And it discredits the 50 Best Restaurants thing even more with its mutual stroke-fest attitude.

This was so utterly infuriating of an evening I didn’t even wait until my Cabify dropped me off a few minutes later before I sent a complaint email about the ridiculously bad service. My goodness, what the hell? They should all go to Tuju and learn — from the kitchen, and from the FoH there.

I thought today’s awesome lunch had saved São Paulo for me, but this just buries it. Ugh, what a waste of money and time…

Avoid this place like the PLAGUE. THE PLAGUE.

D.O.M.
Rua Barão de Capanema 549, Jardins
São Paulo, Brasil

Advertisements

Review: A Casa do Porco

17 July 2017

After that utterly awful dinner at Rodeio I was losing heart. Brazil is getting on my nerves already, the annoying attitude that tourists are there to be taken advantage of instead of being courted. Sigh… In any case it was my last full day in São Paulo so I wanted to make most of it.

The morning took me to explore Cemitério da Consolação, the city’s key cemetery. It’s certainly nowhere as nice as its counterpart in Santiago… I then walked into downtown and explored the centre a bit. The Igreja Nossa Senhora da Consolação was looking nice on this sunny day.

Aside from that my main destination was somewhere I knew I may have to wait in line even on a Monday, A Casa do Porco.

This was well-known as a temple for porcine goodness, and I was not gonna miss it. I got there at about 20 minutes before midday and there were already folks waiting — local and tourists (both domestic and foreign). I forget there is a huge domestic tourism market here in Brazil…

But the door finally opened and I was seated at the bar. I decided to challenge myself and try to speak to the staff in Portuguese only and it seemed to have worked. I ended up having some wine and going for the tasting — despite being lunch-time. Why not, eh?

And just as I was sipping on some wine the procession began, and I smiled…

01a-charcuterie

Some charcuterie appeared, house-crafted ham and head… Excellent stuff. Bread, mustard and pickled veg on the side. Nice start! Then quickly things moved ahead…

02-03a-tartar

Oh my…this was a fantastic pork tartar (yes, you read that right), with an amazing flavour. Then there’s the jowl sushi…

02-03b-jowl sushi

Oh goodness this was just blinding good. Just awesome…not sure if I can say more, but. Remember, São Paulo has the largest community of Japanese outside of Japan… I was in heaven…

And it kept going with the next pair, first some sanguiça that’s far better than last night’s morcela mess.

04-05-sanguiça-belly

The pork belly was just dreamy, with a lettuce wrap. Oh damn this is good! I was smiling as much as the many pig figurines that adorn this place! This is a temple of happiness! It’s like variation of that other temple of porcine goodness, Butagumi, in Tokyo

kitchen

Sipped more wine and the next set appeared. BTW this is coming in twos is because I am dining alone, as others doing the tasting are getting them item by item. This is a very delicious (and burning hot) croqueta filled with pulled pork Wow…

06-07-croqueta-bao

And behind that is a drool-inducing belly bao…oh damn this is fabulous. Excellent quality of the bun as well. Wow…I keep saying wow…

More wine and this place was now rocking. And the staff is amazingly efficient. Compared to last night, this is a well-oiled machine! Next up was some chopped pork in a piss-take on pork and beans — with quail egg, which was very tasty…

08-09a-pork and beans-pancetta

And the fried pancetta…it’s just so wrong…so, so wrong… :))))))

Fabulous stuff. I can’t believe this all cost a fraction of last night’s disaster! Then finally we reach the epic end of all this…

10b-Porco San Zé

Oh my, porco San Zé…this suckling pig…this is what they are famous for. The skin just heavenly, the meat perfect. One of the best suckling pig dishes I’ve had in a restaurant. Almost got teary over this…

My goodness. I was stuffed. This was so damn good I almost wanted to come back for dinner. Alas, I have a reservation at D.O.M. so this will have to remain a dream that I live vicariously thru by re-reading this review…

I headed out and it was actually a bit warm… Missing the snow just about now! I walked around a bit more before deciding to take the Metro back — since the walk was mostly uphill. And plus, it was a chance to check out the Metro here since I had no other use for it all trip long. But even as I got back to my hotel all I could think about was that pork…oh my!

Happy again! A MUST in São Paulo!!!

A Casa do Porco
Rua Araújo 124, República
São Paulo, Brasil

* I really do recommend you follow their Instagram feed…it’ll wreck any diet you have and make you want to jump on a flight south ASAP…

A Brazilian Rip-Off Story: Rodeio…

16 July 2017

My knee was a little better and I headed out to wander in the early evening. It’s Sunday, and despite that pretty good lunch at Tordesilhas, most of the city’s eateries are closed for the evening. I ended up going to a place that is quite well-known for its meats, which is a great way to finish up the week — Rodeio.

I got there and it was pretty empty. Hmmm… I was seated and just my bloody luck, there was a loud table of folks speaking Chinese. I tried to ignore their loud yapping as I ordered. I chilled with some wine and then the yapping got louder, one girl pounded the table and walked out. Lol…free entertainment with my dinner…

sausage

And soon the starter arrived, what was supposed to be spicy sausage. Not very spicy, but very salty… Drank more wine before my main course arrived, sliced picanha…and it was plated…

plate with picanha

Ugh, the meat was not good. I know people like sliced picanha, but when you slice it away the table, who knows if it’s been sitting there. The meat was not good at all. The only thing that saved the day was the palm heart… I finished and waited for ages for them to serve more meat. It’s like they didn’t want to…

After the second time they did that, I started giving them an ugly look, and they started to do it faster. I asked also for a morcela, and that came quick with more beef.

plate with morcela

At this point I noticed that some of the tourists dining here were being short-changed on their meats. They did not know how much they had on the side, and when the servers went lazy they thought they were done so asked for the bill. One even left after 1 serving — 3 measly thin slices! For about 50 US dollars!

This is a blatant rip-off that’s just pathetic. Again, why does Brazil feel it needs to rip off tourists instead of making them want to come back? Just ridiculous.

One more dirty look and they gave me the rest of my meat. What an underwhelming night. Of all things the palm heart was the best thing. I ordered a fruit dessert and it was a bit lame…surprised? And to close the night I asked for an after-dinner drink list and they said they don’t have one…and gave me the cocktail list. I asked for a sazerac and they brought out this undrinkable thing…

I sent it back and they apologised and I just paid the ridiculously expensive bill and left. This place is an insult to dining — from the service to the food, from the drinks to the price. If there ever was a tourist trap in SP, I’ve found it. This is a perfect reason why I just can’t see myself coming to Brazil again…

FUCKING avoid this place. It should be shut down for fraud, incompetence, etc…

Rodeio
Rua Haddock Lobo 1498, Jardins
São Paulo, Brasil

Review: Tordesilhas

16 July 2017

I woke up a little later than planned, but got some extra sleep. Still enjoying that excellent dinner last night at Tuju. It was a quiet Sunday morning in this São Paulo neighbourhood, and I wasn’t going to wander too far today. It was certainly not snowing here like yesterday in Santiago…

I walked around a bit, not realising how hilly this area is. Up and down hills are fine, but when the slopes are sidewards it really puts a strain on my joints… Plus the pavements aren’t all that great. In any case, I eventually got to where I planned to have lunch, Tordesilhas.

They had just opened at midday and it was quiet — apparently I was on the early side. This is an old-school place you can see quickly. I took a seat next to the window and the bright sun was blazing even through them. I ordered a glass of wine and enquired about the tasting menu, but alas only for dinner. So I ordered normally.

Chilled out for a bit to enjoy the wine and people watch out the window, but soon my starter arrived.

1-casquinha

First up was the casquinha de siri, which is stuffed crab. Excellent, lovely flavours, a generous portion of the good stuff. The wine flowed very well too, although it’s Spanish. Enjoyable. Then soon after my starter arrived.

2-pirarucu

This is the grilled pirarucu, the legendary fish of the Amazon.. Quite excellent, and the palm hearts are just a joy to have…love these things. The vegetables were nice with the excellent broth. Pretty enjoyable I must say!

3-fruits

I chilled out and decided to have some fruits as a dessert…and it’s certainly a better selection than the really sad plate I had at Soby’s a few days earlier!

Generally a good lunch, I enjoyed it. I headed out pretty happy. A bit of a long walk in the neighbourhood but the hilly terrain somehow did something to my left knee, and it was really starting to bother me, so I headed back in on this lazy Sunday…

Tordesilhas
Alameda Tietê 489, Jardins
São Paulo, Brasil

Review: Tuju

15 July 2017

This morning was when South American became Latin America…I say that with love, but… I woke up in darkness — not because of the snow outside (yay!!!) but the power had gone out in the hotel. Oh goodie, that’s 10 floors to walk down with my luggage… But thank goodness it came back after about half hour…and I got down the normal way…

Ride to SCL was smooth but it was sheer chaos at the airport as the weather caused mass chaos with flight schedules… It really doesn’t help when the airport’s management seems to be on a different planet to the airlines, as nonsensical info was being constantly posted, forcing folks like me to run across the entire airport several times to false info. People were all getting into wrong queues and I almost ended up on a flight to Colombia because of this chaos… Hours later, 5 gate changes later, we finally got off the ground…sigh…

Got into São Paulo bit late, but thank goodness the hour was odd enough that GRU Airport wasn’t chaotic. But unfortunately my phone signal was messed up so had to take a rip-off taxi from the airport…ugh… This was a defining feature of Brazil, compared to elsewhere in the region… Got to my hotel and dropped my stuff and quickly changed and hopped onto a Cabify — which works great especially in Brazil and is cheap as heck — and went to dinner.

Tonight’s dinner is at Tuju, a place that has that similar ethos of using ingredients found locally that’s not really accessible elsewhere. I like this type of dining when I travel. With that amazing dinner last night at Boragó this place has a big challenge on its hands… I got there at about 9pm as I smartly made my booking so late — just in case my flight had issues (and yes it did)…

It’s pretty relaxed and I order a cocktail and decide to happily go with the tasting menu. Things look very interesting. It’s a chilled place, so I chilled and enjoyed watching the open kitchen at work. Then soon, with a pour of local cava, the procession of snacks started…

01-corn-crab

The first was a totally delicious “sandwich” filled with crab, corn and peppers. Damn this was good! Then surprisingly a pour of a local microbrew wheat beer for the following snack…

02-sunchoke-salt beef

Next up was a sunchoke crisp with salt-cured beef and gherkins. Surprisingly tasty as all the flavours worked very well with each other.

03-perilla-eggplant

Following that was eggplant with miso and seaweed, wrapped by a perilla leaf. Really nice, the eggplant really comes out great here with the miso made with local nuts. Excellent!

04-milk crisp-trout roe

Following that was a milk crisp topped with trout roe, with just a touch of avocado and kombucha. Was a little hard to eat as the roe flew everywhere, but it was delicious!

05a-flowers

Then the last “snack” was quite something to look at — a plate of local edible flowers with nasturtium and a touch of persimmon. And then a palate cleanser…

PC

Wow, this “ginger ale” is all ginger. House-made with local gingers. This was fantastic, and that’s saying a lot from someone who usually doesn’t like ginger. Fantastic!

Things slowed just a wee bit but still moved at a good rate. The dishes were often brought out by folks in the kitchen, and they did a fantastic job of describing the dishes. Little did I know this would be a total anomaly here in Brazil, but this was running great and the kitchen staff is fantastic. A pour of an Argentinian white and here we go.

06-turnips

I chuckled a little when I saw this pickled turnip dish…yeah, I won’t say more. It’s probably a tribute. But it was tasty, the acidic base worked really well here with a touch of local honey. I saw later that they harvest it themselves on-site, so that’s pretty cool. A nice start before we go to something a bit heavier — evidenced by the pour of a sherry…

07a-duck egg porcini soup

Oh this is a fantastic soup, with very intense flavours of duck egg and wild porcini. Absolutely lovely stuff here. One of my favourite dishes of the night. Then with a pour of a rose we move into the larger dishes.

08-red mullet

Today’s local catch is red mullet, and it’s quite nice. Touch of tumeric as you can guess, and some delicious palm heart — I love these things! I was told the fish is from near Rio. Very nice dish!

Surprisingly the next pour was a Brazilian pinot noir, the first biodynamic wine from the country. I imagine we’re moving into a meat dish, but little did I know how good it was gonna be…

09b-montau pork_edited

This is Montau pork, which was just drool-inducingly good. Lovely flavour and happily rich, this was really a fantastic item to finish the savouries on (I’m counting the dishes). The wee salad was also quite nice. Oh this was good!

A wee moment to catch my breath. This intro to Brazilian cooking has been pretty damn awesome! Again I’m so glad I picked a good place to start things out like in Santiago! This is excellent! Then they brought some local coffee and I was intrigued they did that as a pairing to…

10b-cheese

…Cheese! Some nice local stuff from Minas Gerais, mostly cow milk but one goat. Really tasty stuff, and surprisingly the coffee worked! And then we shifted to the desserts with a German white.

11-jackfruit_edited

A jackfruit mousse graced with clovers. I have to say those clovers are just amazing, the citrousy flavours that fly out of them just work wonders here. Fabulous, especially with a very mild wine. A good dessert! And finally, the last of the 12 courses arrive with a pour of some port…

12-fig sorbet

Fig sorbet, with a coconut tapioca base. Delicious! What a nice way to finish things up! As I enjoyed the last of my port and was gonna as for some coffee, they brought out the closer — what they call the Pandora’s Box…

13-sin chocolates

I had to laugh as they joke that this is an offering of local sins…chocolates in tribute to tobacco, cachaça, coca and poppy. LOL! I was enjoying myself so much I ordered another cocktail to slowly close the night. A cool little place. The dining area was emptied out a bit by now, but the bar was still very busy. It was about midnight and I was running a bit out of energy from all the unnecessary drama at SCL Airport, so I called it a night and grabbed a Cabify to head back to the hotel.

I have to say this is an excellent opening here in Brazil, as Tuju is a really awesome restaurant. Good service, excellent cooking, a really nice way to spend a late Saturday night here in São Paulo! Awesome start!

Tuju
Rua Fradique Coutinho 1248, Pinheiros
São Paulo, Brasil