Cafe Brazil recommendations
Going there in a couple weeks with a small group and when I searched, I see it recommended here relatively recently but I don't see anything within the past year or so about what people actually eat there or more detail of what they think about it. So couple of questions-
I know it's not huge, so how necessary are reservations for a group of probably 5-8 on a Thursday night. The 5-8 is an indication of the problem for me, it's a fair guesstimate of who will actually come from a larger group, but pinning them down in advance can be an issue...
And what to people think they do really well there. I'm very fond of feijao tropeiro myself - how's their version (I see it as a side and also included in a couple of platters). Do they have the pão de queijo I got addicted to at their downscale cousin, Belo?
421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134
I haven't been to Cafe Brazil in well over a year, plus to some extent there are more interesting options to explore. For instance for the tropeiro you like, PB Restaurant in Everett, for the Pao de Queijo, Padaria Brasil on Harvard St where you could get a small bag. That said the food doesn't seem to change, some things they do quite well, there are some clunkers and other things which are not particularly Brazilian. I have never ever made a reservation there and its pretty rare to wait, but it doesn't hurt and you can check if there is music Thursdays... request to be near or further away from the guitarist, etc. (If you are near, tip him if you like a song or want to request something.) I do like going there for some of the home style plates, the service/atmosphere, but the food isn't specifically "upscale."
No pao de queijo, although they offer other Brazilian salgadinhos/petiscos on the menu. You could try the mistura de casa which has a few of those, plus the frango a passarinho which I enjoy there. I wish I liked their torresmos in particular, but they are pretty tough, and I am not a huge fan of the linguica but its a good example of basic Brazilian frying sausage. The mandioca frita also is a bit so-so -- you might do a bit better ordering the petiscos a la carte and an order of the frango a passarinho, but the mistura is convenient.
Most of the things I would order are on the pratos caseiros (I would order tutu and feijoada, but you are going on a Thursday so those are not available). Frango com quiabo and rabada are good options. The do a decent basic moqueca capixaba, the carne de panela (eg pot roast) is another possibility, or you could give brazilian style stroganoff a try (its not what you are used to) with chicken. Generally I would leave the churrasco to another place, but if you want something grilled try the bifao de caminhoneiro ("large truck driver steak with fried bacon/pork rinds"), the lombinho, or just the bife a cavalo.
For the tropeiro, ask them to substitute it for the beans or ask them to mix it 50/50. I think with your size of group they should be willing to do that. I think usually their beans are decently seasoned, the tropeiro decent, but neither a whole lot to write home about.
I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience, melon. The times I've eaten at Cafe Brazil, the owner would sometimes come to my table but just to ask how everything was going or to take my order, but wasn't ever pushy or rude. I hope you give CB another chance - don't let one bad experience ruin the place (or any place for that matter).