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Berimbau: A Little Out of Tune

A real fan of Brazilian cuisine (Casa makes my heart sing), I was pretty pumped to give Berimbau, a neighborhood Brazilian eatery, a try. However, the Time Out NY review couldn’t say it any better than “the only thing worse than a restaurant with bad food and a bad atmosphere is one with bad food and a great atmosphere.” Berimbau is the worst kind of disappointment in that the restaurant is immensely charming with festive music, great service, funky artwork, and an open kitchen yet the food is…just not very good.

On Carmine between Bleecker and Bedford, Berimbau attracts the well-dressed downtown set. A good-looking staff provides great eye candy in the simple setting. White walls, authentic art, and fresh flowers are the extent of the decor. The open kitchen offers up tantalizing smells – I wish I knew what they were cooking that smelled so great – I would have ordered it.

Don’t get me wrong, the food is not terrible. There are highlights: my chicken stew was simple, very flavorful, and served with well-salted rice and beans. However, even in this classic dish there were problems. For example, I had difficulty finding the chicken meat. I had to pick around a number of bones and gristle. The Pau de Queyo, a basket of 5 balls of cheesy bread, was delicious – but then again, how do you mess up cheese and bread? My boyfriend was very disappointed in his steak. It was over-cooked and under-seasoned with too much gristle. It needed to be juicier and more flavorful to be successful. His Calabreza appetizer was also disappointing, served on in a massive portion just lumped carelessly on a plate. The sausage, while fragrant and spicy, was also overcooked and tough. The savior of the night, for better or worse, were the savory yucca fries – crisp, tasty, and hearty.

Berimbau is a classic example of too much attention paid to the scene. The restaurant itself really is a bundle of fun – if only the food could pass muster.

Berimbau on Urbanspoon

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