A meal at Botucatu, in the South End, will not change your life. But, it will probably not disappoint you either.
Although the restaurant is often referred to as being Brazilian, while it does have several Brazilian dishes, it seems to have its roots in Peru.
The ceviche was served in a classic Peruvian style. Big lumps of fish, shrimp, squid, and octopus, are in a scant amount of mild citrus juice, with some cilantro. I love this style of ceviche because it allows the taste of the fish to shine, ununhibited by an abundance of peppers, fruit, or other potential additions to ceviches. A jar of fiery pepper sauce on the side enlivens the flavors for those in need of some enlivening. Also, there is the traditional corn on the cob accompaniment.
The empanadas were good. The pastry didn't have the crisp snap that I often enjoy in a good empanada, but the dough was tasty nonethlees. I was surprised to find that the spinach-and-cheese version was superior to the chicken. The problem with the chicken version (as a survey of the menu will reveal) is that the restaurant does not serve any roast chicken, or really any chicken that's not boneless. So, the chicken in the empanadas was pale chunks of somewhat flavorless chicken breast. A mild disappointment.
I tried to order Coatza (a steamed fish dish), but the waiter talked me into the braised duck. The duck was not the most vibrantly flavored dish I've ever had, but it was satisfying nonetheless.
The duck is much like the restaurant in general. This is country-style South American food. It's not trying to win any awards. It's just honest, tasty food that leaves you content.
One more thing: the beer list. It is about six or seven beers long, with the usual suspects: Bud, Heineken, etc. Oddly, listed on the menu is "Black Chocolate Stout." It doesn't state what brewery. Also, I didn't order it, so I don't know for sure which brewery it was from.
There is a Brazilian stout called Xinghu, but I certainly wouldn't call that a chocolate stout. Also, there is an excellent beer made by Brooklyn Brewery called "Black Chocolate Stout", and I was cautiously optimistic that this might be what they meant by "Black Chocoloate Stout." Unlike Brooklyn's, other good chocolate stouts (such as Rogue or Young's) don't call themselves "Black Chocolate Stout." In any event, it was a real oddity to find on the otherwise generic beer list. Assuming it's the Brooklyn beer, my wife speculated that maybe the owner tasted it somewhere once and decided "Hey, this is pretty good!" We never did confirm our theory, however, because we were drowned in a pitcher of average Sangria!