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Cafe Rio - last night

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Restaurants & Bars

Cafe Rio - last night

WLA | Jan 4, 2004 02:51 PM

My wife and I joined my sister, brother in law and niece in celebration of my sister's birthday at this Brazilian bbq place on Ventura Blvd. in Encino for dinner, (across from Islands just west of Haskell in the 15900 block on the south side of Ventura).
 
In case you are not familiar with the concept, (which I was not) they serve an all you can eat type of bbq that comes to the table on these long double skewers. They have everything from chicken to duck to filet to turkey wrapped with bacon to sausage to skirt steak to tri-tip to fish, etc. They also give you some family type platters/bowls of black beans, steamed white rice, plantains and mashed potatoes. You can ask for more of any and everything and they are great about bringing it at once.
 
First they bring a salad to the table that the runner dishes up for each person. You also are brought bread, (very good) and give a few small ramekins of chimichuri sauce for dipping, (and later to add to the bbq items), along with another more vinegary sauce in a very small pitcher.
 
They give you a little wood dowel type dealie that you keep on end with the green side showing as long as you want them to keep bringing the skewers full of the meat/fowl/fish to the table. If you are done, or just want to take a break you turn it up to the red end.
 
The food was good, but not great. I say this for a couple of reasons. First of all with the beef dishes you don't get to specify desired doneness, so for the filet for instance it was medium well. Not my favorite. Also the flavor of the bbq dry rub that much of the meat was coated with gave a sort of repetitive taste to the various meats and the duck was pretty rubbery. The best were the skirt steak, the chicken and the tri-tip, with my nod to the chicken for being so moist and tender.
 
I did down a couple of caipirinha's, (the national alcoholic drink of Brazil) kind of a mojito without the mint. Very good if you like mojito's and they go down easy.
 
This is huge place, and it was very empty when we got there for our 7:00 p.m. dinner. But it turns into a club later in the evening and as we left at 8:30 the valet had a line of cars backing up down Ventura Blvd. to get in and a huge bouncer directing traffic out front. If I could actually stay up past 9:30 it might be fun.
 

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