Moqueca @ Barraco, Kilburn, London
- limster Sep 20, 2011 03:32 PM
Moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew, is made here with coconut milk and palm oil, which according to a chowhound friend of mine, is the Bahia version. Several versions on the menu; I went for one with fish and prawns, both of which were cooked just right -- the fish tender and slippery, the prawns ripping delicately but quickly. The smooth gravy, thick with coconut milk, has flavours that reminds me of sayur lodeh -- a vegetable curry from Malaysia/Singapore/Indonesia. The base of tomatoes and possibly bell peppers and onions blend in seamlessly. Served with rice, but be sure to add toasted manioc flour/farofa from the bottles on the table -- adds a nice toasty, sandy texture and a bit of saltiness, as it absorbs the gravy. Quite a draw.
Rissoles camarao are smallish puffs with a savoury and creamy prawn filling. The pastry work here was great -- pipping hot, presumably freshly fried, the short crust pastry crisp on the outside, covered with fine crumbs, the pastry itself flaking and breaking easily.
Frothy caju/cashew fruit juice is made from a frozen puree and is serviceable. A not bad passionfruit mousse, fairly dense and maybe just the faintest bit of powdery feel. The flan in the fridge looked looked good, will have to try next time.
Grateful to a Brazilian pal who pointed out the place to me from ads on Brazilian magazines and newspapers.
Afraid that there's no bobo on the menu. They don't have the yucca paste side dish that I liked at Muqueca in Boston either. Will be great to hear what you think about their version.
Besides moqueca, there's quite a number of salagadinhos on the menu, and a bunch of grilled meats as well. One of the specials was a feijao tropeiro with pork, a dish from Minas Gerais. Not sure where these guys are from in Brazil.
I had a great meal here earlier and, co-incidentally, it's the same place a Brazilian friend of mine recommended to me a while back. Unfortunately I only found out from him about the specials after I ordered (he recommended Wednesday's special - pork with black beans) but the moqueca was fantastic anyway (totally agree about the Malaysian resemblance), with very well cooked/textured seafood. I also had a moreish, peppery sausage dish which came hot with fried onions, and some alright meat croquettas (maybe could have done with a tad more seasoning). I also loved their malty beer that comes in a properly frosted pint glass, which went well with both hot dishes.
I got the flan to take-away as well and it's as good as it looks with the burnt caramel not too sickly or overpowering. Really impressive, and I'll probably be back to try their steaks later in the week.
I've been eating here quite a lot recently (thankfully it breaks up epic Overground trips into more manageable sessions) and haven't yet had a disappointing meal. The best things on the menu are the starters (essentially glorified bar snacks), and sometimes it's best to get a few and share between rounds of beer. The pork scratchings (torresmo) are the best things I've had going by that name, but only because they're not really scratchings at all - just small hunks of plump pork belly and crispy fat. Taste wise it's as good as the chiccharon from El Rancho de Lalo, although perhaps not as subtle texturally. Cheese balls are addictively cheap tasting, but none the worse for it. Can't work out if they're homemade or if they get them from a packet but either way they're always the first thing to run out when sharing. Fried yam (typoed as 'jam' on the menu), fluffy on the inside, greaseless and crispy outside, are comparable to anything triple cooked at The Bull and Last. Any and all of these can be dipped in the chilli-infused oil they have on the table and are all the better for it.
Out of the grilled meats the pork chop special they do on Saturdays is probably the best and most well cooked (and comes with a seriously rich kidney bean dish infused with pork fat that pairs well), and although the steaks come far too well done they have enough flavour and good char from the grill for it to not matter so much.
Drinks wise, beer is probably the best option. They do caipirinhas but I find them far too unbalanced and sickly sweet compared to others I've had at Brazilian bars. In addition, on Fridays and Saturdays they open up a room at the back with about 50 more covers for live music so atmosphere-wise that is the perfect time to go.