Having a husband who works on Sunday nights, I decided to take my family to Braza's on Farmington Avenue in Hartford for Father's Day last night, June 16, '07. All I can say can be summed up in one word - trainwreck.
Now, maybe I'm a snob ( don't think I am), but if you're claiming to offer a certain type of cuisine, it only makes sense to me that SOME of the people working at said restaurant should represent that culture. I had a feeling that we were in trouble when we walked into the place and I did not see one Brazilian face in sight. The place has terrible acoustics, so you had to shout to make yourself heard. The hostess told us that, although we had made a reservation for 8:30 (OK, we were five minutes early) that there were no tables available, and to "wait in the bar". I told her that my son wasn't of age, and she said, "Oh, that's OK, you have to get out of the way for the "flow" of the restaurant". Excuse me? There were plenty of tables outside, not being utilized.
So we go to the bar where we were promptly forgotten about. My husband and I were just debating as to whether we should just leave and go to East Side when the hostess tells us that our table is ready. I should probably interject here and say that it's pretty obvious that my dad wears prosthetic legs and walks, or hobbles, with a cane. She proceeds to lead us to two flights of stairs. My husband is in the process of telling her that my dad can't manage the stairs, and we are now all crowded about the staircase, blocking traffic, when the manager starts shouting at her, "What's wrong? What's the problem?" At this point, I say that she is trying to seat us. Incidentally, here's a table right next to all of us that's available. Gee, it's for six people and we're only four, so my dad has to stand up another ten minutes before they finally seat us.
At which point the waitress comes, introduces herself (blond and blue eyed, NOT Brazilian) and asks if there are any special cuts of meat that we want. My son and I respond with "chicken hearts: (traditional Brazilian meat) Oh no they don't have those, it didn't sell with the American public. I'm American...
My husband then asked for farofa - don't have that either (traditional Brazilian side) "We Americanized the menu". Um, then you're not doing rodizio...
At this point, my husband is trying to be charming and tells the waitress "obrigadao" (thank you in Portuguese,) and she just laughs at him. I said that she probably doesn't know Portuguese, and she says, rather nastily, "no I'm Irish". OK, so am I, but I'm savvy enough to know that a REAL Brazilian restaurant is staffed with people who speak Portuguese, and appreciate it when their customers do as well. A few words in any given lanaguage (like thank you) go a long way.
We had our little green card, which signals for the meat to come, for about ten minutes before anyone showed up to serve us any meat at all; they just kept passing the table by. We just wanted to see how long it would take. My husband asked the waitress for vinagrette ( a traditional salsa type Brazilian meat dipping sauce), and she brought him a bowl of vinigairette salad dressing! Not the same thing! At which time he asks if there is anyone there who is Brazilian, and the hostess says maybe three people, so he asks to speak with one and about ten minutes later comes back to the table with what he was looking for. By this time, the meats have begun arriving, but he has none, because he wasn't in his seat.
None of the meats were impressive, the pork on two different servings was still pink, so needless to say, we didn't eat those, and they served ribs with BBQ sauce, which I have never seen in traditional Brazilian.
All in all, I have to say that IMHO there is STILL no authentic Brazilian in CT. If you want a REAL rodizio, it's worth the 4 hour plus drive to Brazilian Grill in Hyannis MA. The staff is completely Brazilian, everyone is gracious, unlike at Braza's, and they appreciate it when you speak five words of their language and ask for something that "normal Americans" would never eat. Don't waste your time OR your money,as I have never regretted spending so much for such horrible food and service.
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