Out to Lunch
by Richard Eber
There was a time some 35 years ago when I moved from San Francisco to Concord that the place was a culinary wasteland. In those days Emile Vilas was a gourmet experience; the number #4 at any Chinese restaurant always included oyster beef, and ladies broke out their curling irons before venturing over to the Sizzler.
As might be expected, things have changed since then. A wide range of quality restaurants has opened. At last count, 25 different international cuisines can be found in Concord. Currently, the only component missing has been a genuine steakhouse where meat reigns supreme. Until now that is. The recent opening of Brasas De Brazil in Park and Shop at 1631 Willow Pass Road in Concord already has the community buzzing.
Under the guidance of Eduardo Alves and his three partners, this regional destination restaurant is a cultural and gastronomical adventure that pays tribute to a proud country some 5500 hundred miles South of the Walnut Creek border.
Upon entering the premises diners are introduced to the culinary culture of Brazil featuring tropical fruits, exotic seasonings, and of course the churrascaria, meaning meats roasted with charcoal.
A good way to start is imbibing in one of their authentic cocktails utilizing fresh fruit and local fermented spirits. I especially liked the Caipirinha which features Cachaça rum, raw sugar, and a heavy dose of fresh lime juice. They make versions of this with pineapple and passion juices. Brasas do Brazil boasts a full bar, serving your choice of cocktails, craft beers, and wines.
Prior to guests partaking in barbecued meats grilled on rotisseries over mesquite charcoal, the restaurant takes pride in a unique salad bar. Plentiful slabs of smoked salmon and imported cheeses are provided. This gourmet salad bar’s specialties include mango quinoa Hearts of Palm, and a respectable Caprese salad with a Brazilian touch, the restaurant entices patrons with fresh selections of vegetables not found elsewhere. I especially liked the vinaigrette salsa, and the hollowed-out block of parmesan cheese is a unique touch.
The hot station featured a delicious tomato soup, (which was more of a stew) and the Feijoada black beans infused with spicy Portuguese sausage. Pacing is the key to this restaurant. It was difficult not to overindulge on these foods to leave sufficient room main event, the grilled meats.
The Gaucho clad servers brought by a wide array of meats on skewers, rodizio style, carved from a skewer at your tableside. This is an endless process as different carvers will entice you with 15 or more different cuts of grilled meat for you to enjoy.
However, beef is king at Brasas de Brazil. I tried several selections from marinated sirloin to large cubes of rib eye steak. The Fraldinha (Flap Steak) and the Fife Com Alho, steak with a garlic rub could be a meal in themselves. However, there were several more options with other kinds of meats to be tried.
The Cordeiro roasted leg of lamb was of melt in your mouth quality. One could also sample a delicious marinated lamb chop sliced off the skewer. I also tried the Lombo com Queijo which consisted of pork loin grilled with bacon wrapped parmesan cheese.
There just wasn’t much room left for chicken dishes (including the chicken hearts) which will be tried the next time I go there. All the meat and the smoked salmon is too tempting. Dinner comes with creamy mashed potatoes, fried banana and freshly grilled pineapple slices in brown sugar and cinnamon which are brought fresh to each table.
Meat selections could be dipped in an array of homemade sauces.
After attempting to sample all of it, I was presented with dessert. The Papaya Cream which consists of a generous bowl of pureed fruit blended into a rich vanilla ice cream with a touch of cassis liquor seems to be a great way to top off your meal. They also offer an awesome key lime pie, Crème Brulee, and several other treats including out of this world chocolate truffles, all of these are housemade.
Here, the service is endless unless you flip a table card from green to red. Brasas Do Brazil utilizes fixed pricing for this feast of $29.95 for lunch, and $54.95, salad bar only is less. Drinks and desserts are extra. It is a dining experience like no other in the East Bay. This destination restaurant offers a culinary experience not to be found anywhere else in the region, a giant step up for Concord diners. Reservations are recommended.