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There is still no authentic Brazilian in CT...

Having a husband who works on Sunday nights, I decided to take my family to Braza's on Farmington Avenue in Hartford for Father's Day last night, June 16, '07. All I can say can be summed up in one word - trainwreck.

Now, maybe I'm a snob ( don't think I am), but if you're claiming to offer a certain type of cuisine, it only makes sense to me that SOME of the people working at said restaurant should represent that culture. I had a feeling that we were in trouble when we walked into the place and I did not see one Brazilian face in sight. The place has terrible acoustics, so you had to shout to make yourself heard. The hostess told us that, although we had made a reservation for 8:30 (OK, we were five minutes early) that there were no tables available, and to "wait in the bar". I told her that my son wasn't of age, and she said, "Oh, that's OK, you have to get out of the way for the "flow" of the restaurant". Excuse me? There were plenty of tables outside, not being utilized.

So we go to the bar where we were promptly forgotten about. My husband and I were just debating as to whether we should just leave and go to East Side when the hostess tells us that our table is ready. I should probably interject here and say that it's pretty obvious that my dad wears prosthetic legs and walks, or hobbles, with a cane. She proceeds to lead us to two flights of stairs. My husband is in the process of telling her that my dad can't manage the stairs, and we are now all crowded about the staircase, blocking traffic, when the manager starts shouting at her, "What's wrong? What's the problem?" At this point, I say that she is trying to seat us. Incidentally, here's a table right next to all of us that's available. Gee, it's for six people and we're only four, so my dad has to stand up another ten minutes before they finally seat us.

At which point the waitress comes, introduces herself (blond and blue eyed, NOT Brazilian) and asks if there are any special cuts of meat that we want. My son and I respond with "chicken hearts: (traditional Brazilian meat) Oh no they don't have those, it didn't sell with the American public. I'm American...
My husband then asked for farofa - don't have that either (traditional Brazilian side) "We Americanized the menu". Um, then you're not doing rodizio...
At this point, my husband is trying to be charming and tells the waitress "obrigadao" (thank you in Portuguese,) and she just laughs at him. I said that she probably doesn't know Portuguese, and she says, rather nastily, "no I'm Irish". OK, so am I, but I'm savvy enough to know that a REAL Brazilian restaurant is staffed with people who speak Portuguese, and appreciate it when their customers do as well. A few words in any given lanaguage (like thank you) go a long way.

We had our little green card, which signals for the meat to come, for about ten minutes before anyone showed up to serve us any meat at all; they just kept passing the table by. We just wanted to see how long it would take. My husband asked the waitress for vinagrette ( a traditional salsa type Brazilian meat dipping sauce), and she brought him a bowl of vinigairette salad dressing! Not the same thing! At which time he asks if there is anyone there who is Brazilian, and the hostess says maybe three people, so he asks to speak with one and about ten minutes later comes back to the table with what he was looking for. By this time, the meats have begun arriving, but he has none, because he wasn't in his seat.

None of the meats were impressive, the pork on two different servings was still pink, so needless to say, we didn't eat those, and they served ribs with BBQ sauce, which I have never seen in traditional Brazilian.

All in all, I have to say that IMHO there is STILL no authentic Brazilian in CT. If you want a REAL rodizio, it's worth the 4 hour plus drive to Brazilian Grill in Hyannis MA. The staff is completely Brazilian, everyone is gracious, unlike at Braza's, and they appreciate it when you speak five words of their language and ask for something that "normal Americans" would never eat. Don't waste your time OR your money,as I have never regretted spending so much for such horrible food and service.

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  1. I am hurc81's husband.
    She stole my word to describe Braza: "trainwreck".

    Braza is another in a long line of trendy and overpriced pickup joints in CT, catering to the shallow and self-obsessed 20-30 something crowd, that claim to be a restaurant that does a certain cuisine.
    It was, hand's down, one if the worst dining experiences I've ever had, let alone the worst rodizio.
    The only thing that saved the night was that by the end of the "experience" it started to become downright comical.

    If Braza were to "Americanize" their cuisine any further, a term our waitress used, I would expect to see skewers of hamburgers, spam, and twinkies. Not that there is anything wrong with these American junkfood staples, just that they are decidely NOT Brazilian.

    I did notice, while waiting at the bar to talk to one of the three Brazilians who worked there, who was more interested in continuing her flirtatious conversation with a to-go customer who was trying to scam her digits than she was in speaking with a customer who was having a service problem, that there was A LOT of limes prepped at the bar for that lethally potent and good Brazilian drink, Caipirinha.
    This could explain what might be Braza's working philosophy: Keep the beautiful people too soused to notice the difference.

    The salad bar offerings were meager, the shimp cocktail was warm, most of the meats were overspiced and undercooked, the $6.00 desert flan was of a home-mix quality, and the Guarana was at $3.00 a can.

    The ride home found me surprised as I burped up some stomach acid.
    The night ended with two Tums as after-dinner mints.

    My suggestion: Go to McD's & 7-11, pickup a dollar double cheeseburger, a can of spam, and a pack of twinkies, and call it a night.

    3 Replies
    1. re: WannaBeFoodCritic

      I was so sorry to read about your experience at the "trainwreck" called Braza! I lived in Rio de Janeiro for 6 years and enjoyed the great Brazilian Churrascarias such as Mariu's in Leme and Porcão in Ipanema! To tell you the truth, since returning to the USA, I have never found the same flavors or wonderful Brazilian experiences. It just can't seem to be reproduced here. Have you been to Rio? If not, please by all means go ---- and if you need restaurant tips -- please let me know and I'll email you my list.

      1. re: Jill Brazil

        The wife and I have not been to Rio.
        We live in an area of CT where there is a large population of Brazilians.
        By far the best Churrascaria is in, believe it or not, Cape Cod: Hyannis MA, Brazilian Grill.
        You should really make a point to try either that or something in the Portuguese/Brazilian section of Newark, NJ.

        1. re: WannaBeFoodCritic

          Hi WannaBeFoodCritic ---- Yes, I have tried Newark. Nothing like Rio. Sorry. Once you have been to Rio -- you will understand the difference. It is the meat --- it is different there. Really different. I hope you get to Rio one day.

    2. Have you looked in Danbury? I've never eaten at any of them but I know that Danbury has a large Brazilian population and a few restaurants. The only one I can think of off hand is Banana Brazil, but I know I've heard of a few other ones through the years.

      1. There have been many authentic Brazilian restaurants in CT for a long time now.

        In Bridgeport head to Terra Brasilis on North Avenue, they also have a place in Danbury. Further down North Ave there is a really good Brazilian market. Another good one is Pantanal 215 Frank Street. Minas Carnes Restaurant closer to downtown. There are a few others.

        Cubatas is good in Waterbury, there is also Brasil Grill up the street from Cubatas. I believe there are a few in Naugatuck as well.

        Danbury, which was mentioned in the thread, has a lot too.

        The OP made a comment about Blond hair and Blue eyes, and I'll just mention that Brazil is very diverse ethnically. For example, Sao Paulo has a decent sized Japanese population. Also, a fair amount of people of Italian decent. Just a thought :)

        Happy chowing.

        1. Went with friends to Brazas on Saturday night. They were offering a special; 25% off if you called and made a reservation last week. My wife heard it and called immediately because we had wanted to try it. Went with two other couples, the women had been before for a girls night out. The food was very good. We like meat and the variety was good. Some were better than others, but it is fun to try different things. I did not like that we were placed upstairs so not only did we have to trek far to the appetizer bar, we were usually last to get the cuts of meat being offered. I will say that service was good but not great. It ended up costing us $100 per couple (we had a number of pitchers of Mojitos), so it was not too bad. Jay

          1. i understand your criticisms about bad service and meat quality issues etc.

            but with regards to your expectations of ethnically-suited waitstaff, disappointment over their selection of menu items, questionable sauce choices, etc.. i would say definitely snobby. i mean, to go into a restaurant and start ordering things you THINK they MIGHT have? ghaaaaa!

            you are obviously internet-savvy enough to get here and post, why didn't you check the menu before you went?

            http://www.hottomatos.net/web/braza_d...

            the website even shows pictures of some kitchen/wait staffers so you can decide whether or not they appear portuguese enough!!! ;-)

            1 Reply
            1. re: goodbyeohio

              Because, as COMPUTER savvy as I am, didn't think I'd have to worry about ordering something that's STANDARD Brazilian fare. Done rodizio much?

            2. Never been to Brazil, so I don't know from authentic, but there's a place in Burlington, VT (I know, you're talking about Connecticut, but it's not that far a drive really! :D ) called Suizas. It sure seemed authentic to me. They did have chicken hearts, among sooo many other things, and I recognized some of the things you mentioned as having been on our table and offered to us. :) We've only eaten there once because it's so expensive, but I think I'd like ti make another trip up there before surgery, just to enjoy it fully before it is completely impossible for me to. :D

              1 Reply
              1. re: Morganna

                Thanks for the tip! Sometimes we'll travel for food. :)