Boteco Brazil: The new face of the Ormond Wine Bar
Well-priced, pleasant bar snacks
Going for a Brazilian doesn’t sound like much fun. I’m glad the only wax I’ll see on this outing is dripping down the neck of wine bottles holding candles. Now the question is whether it’s a painful rip-off. Okay. I’ll get my hat. That’s me done with the waxing jokes.
Brazil is in the news for other reasons at the moment but Brazilian food is a hot trend, if you like that kind of thing. This is mainly down to chef Alex Atala, whose São Paulo restaurant DOM has created a newly proud Brazilian cuisine. Like Irish people, Brazilians had a culture of self-deprecation about their native cooking as a wave of European, Asian and African food washed through their restaurants. Even the national cocktail, the caipirinha, comes from the word caipira, which translates as a redneck or hick. It’s the equivalent of Ireland calling its national cocktail the culchie.
Boteco Brazil is on Dublin’s Ormond Quay, in a cavernous building with a basement room set up with a stage, chairs and a large bar. It used to be the Ormond Wine Bar. It briefly hosted a Pichet pop-up night in between incarnations and is now a cheerful olive-green-painted Brazilian boteco. The word is a close relation of the Spanish word bodega – a casual bar with food.
Cheap snacks are the order of the laminated menu, all priced roughly between €3 and €7. It’s our waitress’s first night, she tells us, so when we ask for a wine list she says they have house wines: one red, one white, nice Italian. I get the white “nice Italian”, which costs about a fiver.
The place is divided into rooms: a full bar at the back with deep leather chairs; a cafe space to the front; and a narrower dining room, where we sit, decorated with women’s photographs (possibly glossy magazine pages) in kitsch frames. We sit at a rectangular table for three, of which there are several in the room. It’s an odd-shaped table for two people, leaving a bit too much fresh air between us if we sit at either end.
We order the majority of the short menu, leaving out the pumpkin and sun-dried meat soup, which could be more appetising than it sounds. Everything arrives at once on a huge warm slate. As a slate-hater, this is just about acceptable as the slate is used as a serving board with the food in separate bowls on top. And there are tasty things in these small bowls.
The highlights include seven rubbery pickled quails eggs and a bowl of sweet-potato disks that have been fried to make the outer edges crisp and the insides still squidgy. There are three types of pastel “dip [sic] fried” pastries with prawn, mozzarella and minced beef. It’s all familiar canape finger-food territory: pretty well cooked, but nothing more exciting than what you might find in a Marks & Spencer party pack.
The coxinhas are a little more odd: breaded teardrops of mashed potato with minced chicken in the middle, the Scotch chicken that came before the egg, maybe. The pão de queijo, or cheese bread, are served as gobstopper-sized dough balls with melted cheese inside, and the only problem with them is that there aren’t enough of them.
I like the bolinho de Boteco, or deep-fried black-bean balls with bacon, which are spicy, salty and soot-coloured – like sinking your teeth into a soft piece of charcoal. A small dish of bobó de camarão is a typical Brazilian fish stew with coconut milk. Here it’s a slightly unappealing-looking yellow mixture that has spent a little too long sitting somewhere before it came to the table. Two slices of bread, neither oven-fresh nor toasted, sit on top. It’s a little like eating a paella without the rice. There’s a friendliness to this place and the tasty snacks are good partners to a casual drink. There’s a lot of competition for the cheap-eats market on nearby Capel Street, so it will be interesting to see if that’s enough to make this latest version of a wine bar on Ormond Quay stick.
Food for two with two glasses of wine and a pint of Guinness came to €49.70.
THE VERDICT: 6.5/10
Well-priced, pleasant bar snacks
Boteco Brazil, 6 Ormond Quay, Dublin 1, tel: 01-8749778
Facilities: Downstairs, dark, cold and unisex
Music: Nice jazz
Food provenance: None
Wheelchair access: Yes