After a hot day wandering the city through the mall, markets and museums, the cold citrus-y caipirinha tasted divine. Around 8:00, I met my roommate and three of her friends at The Grill from Ipanema, a Brazilian restaurant in Adams Morgan. The caipianha is to Brazil as the mojito is to Mexico. Muddled with lime, sugar and ice, the drink gets its kick from cachaça, a distilled liquor made from local sugar cane. Making the cachaça is not unlike making wine; the best types are aged for many years in oak barrels. In the States, cheap versions are everywhere, so look for quality brands like Leblon, named for a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro or Agua Luca.
From the beginning, it was a great place to start a night. The waiter and I conversed in a mix of Spanish, Portuguese and English as I ordered jacaré au pantal or alligator with mustard, and Frango ao alho or chicken with garlic rice, collard greens and feijão. The dishes arrived after warm bread rolls and political conversation had cultivated new friendships around the table. The alligator, lightly breaded did indeed taste like chicken, but over salted. I discovered that the Feijão was a combination of red beans, yucca flower, the egg, sausage, onion and parsley not unlike a southern gumbo.
The A Bacate Marajó was easily the best; the meat of half an avocado was scooped out and mixed with big shrimp, green chilies and tomatoes then replaced into the empty shell. The ingredients played off each other beautiful, the smooth weight of the avocado tempered by the shrimp and tomato and zinged up with the chili created a round mouth feel but it was light enough that I wanted that second, third and fourth bite. Yum!
The Grill from Impanema is the ideal place to start an evening. The atmosphere is warm, the people friendly and the drinks potent. The night isn’t about the food, which takes a back seat to the environment. Although the flavors on the menu are exotic to the American tongue, the kitchen is missing that extra something that would kick this restaurant to new gastronomic heights. While I think I’ll be trying new options next time I’m in the neighborhood, I will hold fond memories the alligator and of my waiter!
Comer feliz e goza a noite!
The Grill From Ipanema
1858 Columbia Road, N.W
Washington, DC 20009