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Home / Latest News / Review: Viva Brazil, St Mary Street, Cardiff

Review: Viva Brazil, St Mary Street, Cardiff

When a new  restaurant  opens in Cardiff, it invariably attracts a rush of people.

But the demand isn’t usually as high as it has been for Viva Brazil, which opened last year below the Maldron Hotel in the  city centre.

Part of the attraction is that  the churrascaria, or Brazilian  steakhouse, is quite different from the norm.

I booked a table for two on a Tuesday night and arrived to find the restaurant  packed-out.

We were shown to our table and given a brief explanation of how it all works.

Basically, each diner is given a coaster-sized disc that is green on one side, red on the other.

You go and help yourself to  food from the “salad island” in the centre of the restaurant and then turn the disc to red or green, depending on whether you want the attention of the  passing “passadores” or not.

Now, the passadores are waiters who walk around the restaurant with a selection of meats on big skewers.

If you want some meat, they cut off a slice and you grab it with a mini pair of tongs supplied to you at the table.

Still following?

It might sound complicated,  but my guest and I soon got the hang of it.

So much so that it became quite difficult to say no to the juicy steaks, spiced chicken  legs, sausages – and even a  pineapple – that kept wafting  past.

Viva Brazil staff with a selection of skewered meats
Viva Brazil staff with a selection of skewered meats

 

And while the passadores (some of whom were distinctly dishy) got more than their fair share of attention, the offerings at the salad bar were actually a  surprise favourite for me.

Clearly, we’re not talking  here about a few wilted pieces of lettuce and some boiled  rice.

Among the huge selection of  dishes were delicious rice and  beans, buttery sweetcorn and  peas, herby carrots, rich and  creamy potato salads, garlicky  mushrooms and an incredible  chicken salad made with sultanas and matchstick potato  crisps that I could have eaten  all night.

A cauldron of Feijoada –  smoked pork and black bean  stew – lay alongside four different types of cheese, which in turn were next to a tray of  crispy deep-fried bananas.

With the passadores winding  their way around the packed  tables and couples, families  and work parties making multiple trips back and forth to the  salad island, the atmosphere  was lively but – surprisingly – it  didn’t feel that cramped.

The restaurant itself was cosy and clean with lowlighting, exceedingly friendly and helpful  staff and a sophisticated bar at  which we could wait to be  seated in style.

At £23 a head, I found the cost a bit too much for what is essentially a posh all-you-can-eat.

But it is different and it is fun,  and that’s what will keep diners  flocking here for some time yet.

The best of what we ate at £23 a head

Salpicao de frango – chicken salad made with sultanas, onions, garlic, sweetcorn,  grated carrots, chillies, capers, spring onions and mayonnaise, topped with matchstick  potatoes

Feijoada – A stew made of smoked pork and black beans

Cogumelos ao alho e oleo – Sautéed mushrooms in olive oil, garlic and chillies

Aborora com cebola e manteiga – pumpkin cooked in butter, onions and sugar

Linguica de porco – Brazilian pork sausage

Coxa de dfrango – chicken legs

What we drank:

Tarquino Shiraz-Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010 – £17.50

Total bill: £63.50

Viva Brazil, St Mary Street,  Cardiff. Telephone: 029 2022  0255 

www.vivabrazilrestaurants.com

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