FOOD REVIEW: Nuts about Brazil

Tropeiro Restaurant,Leopold Square...Gauchos Chefs serving meat to your table
Tropeiro Restaurant,Leopold Square...Gauchos Chefs serving meat to your table
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A new city centre restaurant aimed at meat lovers has some attractions for female diners, discovers Julia Armstrong

I’ve got a new suggestion for parties of females looking for a fun night out: go for a Brazilian.

No, not that sort, go to Tropeiro, the Brazilian place that has opened at the back of Leopold Square in the city centre.

You may have looked at the menu, seen it’s somewhere that sells huge hunks of meat and thought that’s one for the lads.

But you’ve reckoned without the effect of a charming young man standing at the table, brandishing cuts of meat skewered on what looks like a sword on your table, offering to cut you a slice.

It certainly made for a different sort of lunchtime offering when I popped in with my friend Ruth.

Not that there’s anything suggestive or untoward going on, it’s just that the whole scenario gave us the giggles.

And he was a lovely guy, full of passion for the food he was offering, at least.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s backtrack a moment for a little scene setting.

This place, part of a small chain attempting to establish itself in the north and Scotland, has taken over the restaurant that used to be the Bar and Grill about a month ago.

Apparently a Tropeiro is a Brazilian, semi-nomadic cowboy.

It’s quite an airy space with a large dining room and a big salad bar ‘island’ stands in the middle of the tables.

The walls are festooned with striking pictures of gauchos (South American cowboys) herding huge seas of cattle and looking moody on horses.

This thoroughly entertained Ruth, who is a horsey type of gal.

We were shown to our seats by another charming young man, Diego, the general manager, who comes from Argentina, we learned later.

He quickly outlined the way that Tropeiro works: you order your drinks at the table, then grab your plate and help yourself at the salad bar.

Then, when you’re ready to eat some meat, there is a little card on your table with a red side and a green side.

Turn the card to the green side if you want the gaucho chefs to bring selections of meat and red if you want a bit of a breather.

We were visiting to try lunch, so were on the almorco-rodizio lunch deal, which includes five cuts of roasted meat for £9.95.

The full evening service, or full rodizio, costs £21.95 each for a choice of 12 cuts of roasted meat.

We weren’t drinking as it was a lunchtime visit (long gone are the days when journos lived up to their boozy reputation; we rarely have time to go out for lunch now) but the restaurant is licensed and offers those fantastic caiprinha cocktails made with Brazil’s seriously fiery spirit of the same name.

Instead I had a Guarana fizzy drink and Ruth tried an alcohol-free mojito, which tasted just like the real thing.

We loaded up with salads from the wide range on offer, including different coleslaws, couscous, chick pea salad and olives, but nothing was particularly memorable.

A better choice was what was called Meditteranean roast vegetables, but was actually more of a hearty winter cabbage-based dish in a creamy sauce. It was very tasty.

There’s also plain rice and the mashed potatoes weren’t too bad.

But no-one visits Tropeiro for the salad and soon we were being offered some good well cooked gammon. The meat is carved and you get a set of tongs to grab the piece as it is sliced off, so it’s all good table theatre.

Next on offer were linguica sausages, which our gaucho told us are made here in England. They were very meaty and had some good, herby flavour, so we took the offer of second a few minutes later.

Then came frango com pimenta, chicken thighs marinated with chilli and garlic, which absolutely fell apart and were full of flavour, nicely brought out by plenty of sea salt and pepper.

Following them were costela de porco, little pork ribs on the bone that had also been marinated with a chilli and garlic paste.

Then we had a little taste of something from the evening menu, lambuja, little pieces of beef given a real intensity of flavour by being marinated in garlic oil, which really stepped things up a notch or two.

Later on, Diego told us they always offer a couple of dishes from the evening menu, which is clever marketing to tempt you back.

At this point, we turned the cards to red as this was pretty close to bursting point for both of us.

However, we had not reckoned with our persuasive friend and gracefully gave in to the offer of a small sliver of beef skirt flavoured with garlic and olive oil.

It had a salty intensity that just blew my taste buds away and was worth making room for.

However, he was back again a few minutes later and this time we waved him away, admitting defeat.

Our bill came to a pretty tasty £26.05.

Verdict:

A very enjoyable flirtation with the meaty cuisine of Brazil. Don’t wear a figure-hugging outfit…

Tropeiro Brazilian Churrascaria, 7 Leopold Square, Sheffield S1 2JG. 0114 273 9399.

Opening times: Monday to Friday noon to 3pm and Saturday and Sunday noon to 10pm.