Restaurant Review: Rodizio Rico, N1

Jon Dean dines out Brazilian cowboy style

I like to think I know a thing or two about Brazil - probably the greatest football nation on earth, home of the Amazon rainforest, inventors of the Rio carnival (the largest in the world). But I had no idea how denizens of that great country dined. Well now I do and, as it turns out, its remarkable close to my ideal meal - endless pieces of tender marinated meat, each one more delicious than the last.

Rodizio Rico, in Upper Street, claims to be the only authentic “churrascaria de rodizio” restaurant in the capital. Churrascaria (pronounced shoe-hoss-korea) roughly translates as barbecue in Portuguese and refers to the fireside cuisine of the Brazilian cowboys (Gauchos) centuries ago.

After a hard day herding cattle, these tough, craggy nomads would recline by the fire as roasted hunks of flesh were brought round the group.

The modern manifestation of this involves an impressive array of cuts, lovingly cooked over charcoal, then brought to your table on skewers by meat waiters.

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Rodizio Rico has developed this even further. You have three options - carnivorous, vegetarian, or being a child, each of them offering limitless portions. Although there is a lot of emphasis on meat, you would be wrong to think the veg option is a poor relation. There is a buffet in the middle of the restaurant boasting cauliflower cheese, salads, pasta dishes, vegetables, mushrooms and other such delights. This is where I headed first, predictably piling my plate so high that it resembled a culinary K2 to keep myself going until the flesh arrived.

As you sit down, you are given discs that resemble beer mats, but are in fact a way of signalling your level of hunger to the meat waiters. One side is green (more meat please), the other red (please, no more). As we found out, if you leave it on green the food keeps coming.

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Silverside roast beef was followed by chicken, rump steak, pork, sausage, leg of lamb and even chicken hearts.

As the skewers come round, you can pick which bits of the joint you want, and how much, which is necessary as the cuts range from very well done to hair-raisingly rare.

All the meat is tender and marinated in a variety of delicious sauces, although if I had a criticism it’s that they’re all quite salty.

And, much to my surprise, it seems you can have to much of a good thing - it wasn’t long before we had flipped the signs to red for some much-needed respite.

The cocktail and wine list at Rodizio Rico are excellent, however, and after some fortifying libation we were ready to go again.

Because it is all-you-can-eat, the place lends itself well to a long, unhurried meal and as such would be perfect for a party or a work do (by the same token, probably less so for a first date as you may reveal yourself to be a greedy pig).

Rodizio Rico is clearly very popular and now boasts four venues across London, and with a endless supply of tasty food on offer, its easy to see why.

If you fancy a meal out that is a little bit different, you will find yourself of Brazilian flavour by the time you waddle out of the door.

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