It was the first Saturday of the month and somehow I, a person who rarely knows the date, remembered that. After learning about La Villa and trying their lunch special, I wanted to make sure I tried their buffet, too.
It's a small buffet and didn't start until 1 pm, but I wasn't disappointed. There were only four items: feijoada, rice, chicken stroganoff, and mayo salad.
Stoganoff? Mayo salad? Huh?
Talking with the cook (who is very proud of her food and eager to talk about it), stroganoff is on nearly every menu in Brazil. A little googling confirmed its popularity. Apparently the dish came with European immigrants and has become a favorite served with rice instead of noodles and often with potato crisps. She makes hers with heavy cream, a little ketchup, and a little mustard, plus various seasoning. It was actually quite tasty. The chicken was tender, the sauce had a nice richness and balanced and interesting flavor.
Mayo salad is potato salad. Very simple version that could have used a bit salt. But it's the kind of potato salad that anyone who grew up going to 4th of July picnics where their parents actually made the potato salad instead of buying it at Safeway should appreciate. I prefer a German potato salad with more of a mustard dressing, but this was lightly dressed and had a good flavor, bits of carrots, and fresh herbs.
Feijoada is a black bean and (normally) pork stew. Certainly not a true feijoada, in that it didn't contain all the offal parts of the pig, I'm also not sure if it contained pork at all. The cook talked fast with an accent and I caught that she doesn't dig on swine much, but I'm not sure if that meant she also makes the feijoada without pork. I assumed as I ate it that it was pork, but after talking with her, I wasn't sure. (Would a Brazilian be so bold as to make it without pork at all?) Either way, it was tasty, having a richness you only find either in traditional home cooking or decadent haute cuisine.
All of this was topped with farofa, toasted yucca flour. It's a nuttiness and bit of texture, like bread crumbs on cassoulet, or toasted rice flour in larb.
I've been pleased with both of my Brazilian meals at La Villa. They only serve one lunch special a day and buffet on the first Saturday of the month. The buffet was $7.
719 SE Morrison St