Brazilian in Baltimore - South American Grill
After seeing the post here indicating they'd be opening in early March, I stopped by South American Grill in Cockeysville (old Ugly Muffin location on Cranbrook Rd) last week. They'd only been open 5 days at the time and were still sorting out some of the basics (they don't yet have their sign up front - just a big dry erase board with the name of the restaurant posted in the window).
I'd been seeking Brazilian in Baltimore for the past few years -- something more fundamental than the churrascaria-style meat-fest that Fogo de Chao offers. This was pretty darn good. Feijoada (black bean stew with sausage and stewed pork) reminded me of what we'd had while we were in Rio -- except that it was served lukewarm. I had a chicken a baiana which was pretty good if not particularly bold in flavor.
While there, the owner brought over a complementary Pão de Queijo -- cheesy bread, fresh out of the oven, which was like biting into a melted hunk of white cheddar cheese. Yum.
We chatted with the owner, whose wife is native Brazilian and he's just come back from living in Brazil and running a restaurant near Sao Paolo for several years. He says he'll be doing a more basic churrasco with the buffet-style grilled meat coming around to the tables and a modest "salad/side" bar, for somewhere in the $20 or under range for dinner (!!). I'll definitely be back to check this out.
Overall - really glad I found this place. I'll definitely be back to try some of the other items on the menu. Despite what it says on the website menu (www.southamericangrill.com) "Although many foods served will be authentic South American dishes we make efforts to Americanize many items we serve." -- I hope we can ask him to make things as authentic as possible for those of us who DON'T want the Americanized version.
Most of all - I'm ecstatic to find another lunch option in the Cockeysville area during the workday as an alternative to chain restaurant hell. For that alone, I really hope this place makes it.
Also - in the same shopping center there's a newly opened Mexican/Salvadorean place that I picked up a menu for -- I'll be sure to stop by to try that as well. It has traditional Mexican style tacos on the menu that I'll definitely have to compare to the better ones I've had in the Eastern Ave/Broadway Ave corridor.
I've been here three times, twice for lunch and once for the "churrasacaria" style dinner. First let me say I think this place has potential, but right now it's pretty inconsistent. First time I was there the yuca was pretty undercooked, but at dinner a few nights later it was great. The steak I thought was very tough, but some of the other meats were very good, albeit kinda salty. The owner definitely tries hard, but he needs to hire some help. Right now it's just him, no waitress, bus boy, dishwasher, etc. He cooks, he serves, he cleans. As a result service suffers. It's not for lack of trying though, he's working his butt off. Today I got a Brazilian Wrap with chicken which was very tasty, but no yuca fries today, just regular fries. Again, the meat was very salty, but was tasty. I think if they work the kinks out this place could be a welcome change to the normal stuff available in this area.
Bummer... just saw on South American Grill's website that they've closed the Cockeysville restaurant due to financial difficulties. Not sure how long ago, though I was in/around that shopping center a few weeks ago and they still looked open at the time (though I didn't actually go in). They do indicate that some of their signature dishes (feijoada, pao de queijo among others) are available for ordering online - shipped frozen or ready to cook.
I'm sad to see the only Brazilian option in/around Baltimore close, and have one fewer ethnic option in the Cockeysville/Timonium area. Plus the owner/chef was very nice - sorry to see him not be able to stay open even 6 months. Wish I'd made it back a few more times, as of the 2 latin options in that shopping center, I prefered this place to the Salvadorean place next door.