Alex was the one who wrote an email to me raving about the new Brazilian restaurant that he recently found. He is Brazilian and for a time he sat next to me at work.
Both of us talked a lot about the web. He was very interested on what I was doing on chowtimes and told me many times it is such a waste that I am not leveraging enough on the traffic on the website. Alex is someone who always thinks about the next big thing with Web 2.0. He is a darn good developer. So he keeps bouncing off me his ideas.
He left the company at the end of the project and when his contract was up. But we do keep in touch occasionally. So when he found this new Brazilian restaurant, he immediately wrote to me. Yeah, I remember very well him lamenting that there are no good Brazilian restaurants in Vancouver. Samba does not count, we know because, well, it is owned and operated by the same people behind the Thai House and string of Thai restaurants.
This one is the real deal.
The Brasil Stone Grill is located at that off intersection of Water St, Alexander St, Carrall St and Powell St.
This is the location considered as where Vancouver started. “Gassy” Jack statue stands over the marker where once stood a maple tree. The long gone maple tree was where the pioneers of the city selected the name “Vancouver”. I remember reading somewhere once that Vancouver almost became known as Granville or Gastown. I think Vancouver sounds better.
Anyway, “Gassy” Jack is the one who has his name associated with Gastown today.
You will likely not be able to find the Brasil Stone Grill restaurant. Just know this … “Gassy” Jack looks … at the direction of the restaurant.
There is no sign at all outside the Brasil Stone Grill. Walking quickly past it, you might not even think it is a restaurant. The only give away sign is the Brazilian flag outside.
As I mentioned yesterday, we came the first time at 2:30PM on a Saturday thinking that it would be a slow time for them. We were turned away.
So we went back three days later. Thinking that this is going to be a weekday and going again at 3:00 PM we thought it would be better. Guess what … despite the posted hours above, they have a hand written sign on the door that says “Sorry, we will open again at 3PM”. Luckily we were just about 15 minutes to 3PM. So we hung around the area for a while.
This is a really small restaurant. There is only 18 seats max and even that it is a tight squeeze.
We were puzzled why they closed until 3PM. Know what they told us? They said they needed to rest and catch up after the lunch hours. They told us it had been madness ever since they opened less than a month ago (on March 26th). They can’t keep up with all the customers. That is the reason why that they said they don’t want to even bother with putting up the signboard outside because it is only going to make things worse.
So we got seated at 3:00 PM and by 3:30 PM, well, all seats were taken and they were again turning away customers! On a Tuesday at 3:30PM … can you believe that?
This is a family restaurant. Service was friendly and helpful. Since we had no experience with Brazilian cuisine, we had tons of questions and despite that they were very patient with us explaining with delight their menu. They were glad that we were curious about their food.
Most of their customers look like they are Brazilian or South American. I felt that this restaurant had spread by word of mouth within the community and they are here for authentic Brazilian fare which is almost non-existent in Vancouver. They told us they were aware of two Brazilian restaurants and that is Samba (which is Thai owned) and Eh Restaurant which is not exclusively Brazilian.
We can smell the aroma of the cooking which permeates throughout the same space. Part of the kitchen is just behind the counter. The ventilation fan was working overtime and was noisy.
The menu is a simple two-pager. You can click on the menu above to show larger.
The prices are OK. For some part it is cheap and for some, it was a bit on a high side. But then I was thinking comparing with restaurants around this area, the prices are reasonable.
On the left above, is the appetizers and and the desserts. The appetizers were $1.00 and $1.50 each. There were four types.
We decided to order all four appetizers seeing it is cheap. We also wanted to order the Pudim De Leita (flan) but they were out of it already.
We also ordered two main dishes. We were warned that is a lot of food but we went ahead anyway.
The only Brazilian drink here is the Guarana Antartica. It is the most popular drink in Brazil and is made of guarana (not that I know what guarana is!). It tasted like sweet cherry flavour.
The first appetizer was what is known as Kibe (pronounced Kee Bee) $1.50. This is a deep fried marinated ground beef mini roll. We like this a lot. It is a meat roll and is very crunchy on the outside especially the cracked wheat.
The server instructed us to break the Kibe and squeeze some lime juice and enjoy.
The Pao De Quijo (Pow-De-Kay-Jo) $1.00 is Baked Parmesan Cheese Ball. Alex told me that this is one item I must order. And most importantly, I must have this fresh out from the oven and I must reject it if it is not.
So we told our server that we want it made fresh and we were told it will be at least 20-25 minutes. We told him we are determined to taste it fresh and only freshly baked ones.
This is awesome. It was served piping hot out of the oven. The inside is lightly chewy and moist and savoury. Top notch stuff.
The third appetizer is known as Risoles (Hee-Sol-Es) $1.00. It is a breaded dumpling stuffed with shrimp and peppers. It is crispy on the outside and doughy inside. Not much of a filling.
The fourth item, Cosxinha, they did not make for us. We understand because they would have to make it specially for us from scratch and they are already having a tough time preparing for the other customers too.
Our first main is called the Picanhua (Pea-Cunn-Ya) $17.00. This is the most expensive item on their menu. The other mains were just $9, $10 and $13.
Our server told us only to order this if we are really hungry. But we just had to order this because this place is called the Brasil Stone Grill after all.
This is a superbly tenderized trip tip cut of beef, lightly seasoned with coarse sea salt, slowly grilled and served on a hot stone. Very nice. The stone wasn’t as hot I thought it would be (i.e. it did not sizzle and all that). What I like is the sauce. I wonder what that was. It made the steak a lot more moist.
The Picanhua also included the dish above. It is rice, fried banana, farofa (toasted cassava flour) and Manjioca (fried cassava root or yukka).
I did not care much about the Manjioca but what I love best was the farofa (toasted cassava flour). Mixing it with the rice gives it a nice “sandy” texture and a savoury taste quite unlike anything I had ever tasted before.
And some black bean stew too. I don’t like the black beans. In fact I do not like ANY beans at all. But this is what is popular to Bazilians.
… and there is also a side of salsa made with chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime juice.
It was very refreshing and the “jhup” was also great with rice. No kidding.
The above is almost similar to what I had. But this is the thing that is known as the national dish of Brazil. It is called the Feijoda (Fay-Jo-Ada) and is $13.00. It is described as authentic Brazilan sytle rice and black beans. This is a staple dish eaten throughout the country.
It also served with sides of salsa and cassava flour.
In addition to that it also has very nice fried Collard Green. I like this a lot.
The above is the main thing with the Feijoda. It is bean stew and had a couple of pork with skin in the black bean stew.
Yeah, it is all black. I need to get used to eating pork that is black in color. It actually tasted good bit I can’t get the thought of black beans out of my head. It is just me and this thing about beans.
The pork is super fatty. Hehehe … really fatty with a thick layer of skin. Purely good stuff.
Yeah, I was learning as I was eating this. Hey, wikipedia described the dish virtually the same as what I was eating.
For us, we just wanted to try what authentic Brazilian cuisine is like. For those of you out to experience it, this is worth checking out. Too bad they ran out of their popular Pudin De Leite (flan) because that was another dish that Alex recommended us.
The Brasil Stone Grill got off to a great start and given their popularity, I think they need to move to a bigger place. Yeah, I know. I know they had just started business. I just have a feeling this will be a successful restaurant in the long run.
The bill came to to $49.00 including tax and tips. It was a lot of food and we had some packed to go. This restaurant accepts credit cards.
Given how popular this restaurant is, reservation is highly recommended. And just be aware also that they could run out of some dishes you wanted. So, if there is anything you want to absolutely try, perhaps you can make sure they have it when you make your reservation.
Oh I heard that they have live samba music on the weekends.
Update 22-Apr-2011: Brasil Stone Grill has a Facebook fan page here. According to today’s update, they are closed for repairs to their ventilation system.
Tuesday to Thursday: 11:00AM to 8:00PM
Friday to Sunday: 11:00AM to 9:00PM