At Melanie's suggestion, I tried out the newly opened Nabraza Brazilian restaurant in Campbell last night. Nabraza is a small restaurant, seating 34 at a time and is located in a medium-sized shopping mall with a bargain movie theater and a vegetarian Chinese restaurant among other things.
I started the meal off with a freshly-made Brazilian lemonade. This was a pale yellow-green color and had a delicate, understated flavor. Certainly not mouth-puckering and quite refreshing.
I then went on to a couple of appetizers (this was not to be a light meal, since I was on a mission for Chowhound). The first appetizer was described as Stuffed Crabs and said to appeal to those who like crab cakes. The crab and onion mixture (couldn't tell what else was in there) was placed into two large clam shells, topped with crumbs, and broiled. Reasonably tasty, although I suspect the crab was really krab -- it didn't have any flake to it like I expect with dungness or blue. Anybody know of crab that acts more like krab?
The second appetizer was the Brazilian basket. This is a basket of 3 different items: beef pastel (like an empanada), cod croquette, and shrimp empanada. The beef pastel was straightforward. The cod croquette seemed to be a mix of cod and mashed potatoes, formed into a rounded block and deep fried. The flavor was mild and not at all fishy. The shrimp empanada was the most interesting, with a creamy shrimp paste inside, surrounded by a somewhat glutinous wrapper. Since each item consisted of two pieces, this would be an ideal appetizer for two. As it was, it would turn out to be more than I needed!
Dinner entrees come with a side salad, which is simply cucumbers, red onions, and tomatoes, sprinkled with pepper and sitting in a bath of white vinegar. Simple, but just what I needed after the fried basketful. The description on the menu called it a spicy salad.
Next, I had a passionfruit drink. This was a cloudy yellow color and was again delicate in flavor. Also refreshing. I should note that the meal is served with an unremarkable thin-crust french-style bread. While most items were subtle in their flavor, this item was just ordinary. With nothing to dip the bread into, I only ate a slice.
My entree proper was the churrasco (I'm sure I spelled that wrong -- and the menu says the pronunciation is shoo-HAS-koo) something or other. Basically it was garlic-grilled beef on a giant skewer served with 5 grilled prawns. The beef was two medium-sized pieces of steak, grilled to specification (medium rare). The meat is brought table-side on a cart and then removed from the skewer with a knife. A bit of drama in the meal. Served with the entree are white rice, black beans, and a vinaigrette (vinegar, chopped onion, bell pepper, and ?) for consumpution with the meat. The meat itself was tasty, although I wished for more garlic -- it's hard to put too much garlic in my food! It had a nice grilled over fire taste, as did the shrimp, although since the shrimp were grilled whole in their shells, the grilling flavor did not permeate the shrimp as much.
I finished up the meal with a cashew drink (the menu notes that cashew is really a fruit) and a coconut/chocolate flan in plum sauce. The cashew drink was really interesting -- as you first take the liquid into your mouth, you can actually sense a hint of cashew. The drink then dissolves into being just another sweet beverage. The flan was all right but no great shakes. Subtle chocolate and coconut jell-o is almost my description of it. It was served with two prunes and prune liquid which didn't do much to enhance or detract from the flan. Other desserts were a couple of other flans and sauteed bananas.
Service was quick and friendly. The chef/owner came out and asked me if the meat was grilled to my liking. Decorations are images and artifacts from Brazil and light, jazzy music in Portuguese is played in the background.
I'm definitely going back. There are so many other things on the menu I'm dying to try. Many Brazilian dishes that sound intriguing or different. Turkey wrapped in beef bacon! Black bean stew. Oh, and Thursday night, there's an all-you-can eat grilled meat special that sounds interesting, if you're a meat-eater. There are a few vegetarian options on the menu, including one entree, so vegetarians should do all right. The Thursday night special is $22.95, I believe, with drinks and desserts extra. For everything I ordered, I walked out there for $56 including tax and tip. Mind you, I ate two appetizers, had three drinks, ordered one of the most expensive entrees, and had a dessert. I figure two could easily dine on what I consumed. But like I said, I was on a mission, and I had to gather as much data as I could.
PS I'm off to 17 days in Asia in a couple of hours, so I won't be able to respond to any follow-ups on this review until sometime after I get back.