Centro is shaking off its gritty, underground image and is gradually becoming a more bustling cultural and gastronomic hub. I’ve been eating out in Centro quite a bit recently and I’m pleasantly surprised to see good restaurants are no longer like finding diamonds in the rough – the variety of culinary gems is wonderfully broad. Bistro Ouvidor, in particular, is amazing and I really recommend it. It’s an upscale venue but they have really affordable prices. Check their website as they often have special offers where you can eat a starter, main course and a dessert for less than R$50.
I took a trip to Rua Ouvidor, a bustling street that is littered with upscale fashion stores and cafes, to check out Bistro Ouvidor. The outside of the restaurant draws from its French roots with wooden panels and a large olive-green chalkboard with the day’s specials neatly handwritten. The exposed brickwork inside supporting racks of wine and shelves with jars of corks adds to the continental feel.
The wine menu is extensive and bordering on the pricey side, yet the quality of offerings is undeniable. After admiring the many wines on offer, I reluctantly closed the menu – unfortunately I was still fighting off an incredibly stubborn cold and one that I was happy to see the last of. I thought it would be better to wait for another day to sample the wine, giving me a perfectly good reason to come back.
I had the total fortunate of coming to Bistro Ouvidor during Restaurant Week where restaurants across Rio serve a sample menu at a set price. The prices during this event are very accessible, allowing me to visit restaurants that normally would be out of my price range. For just R$43, I could try a starter, a main course and a dessert from a set menu.
I started with the Terrine de Carnes Exoticas (exotic meat terrine). It was a mix of wild boar, lamb and ostrich, served with a simple salad and a small chunk of rosemary-infused bread. The terrine melted in my mouth and was full of rich, gamey flavours that wasn’t the least bit overpowering. The bread was one of those rare types that can be eaten without any butter or oil – it was packed with flavour and incredibly soft.
For main course, I had the Pato no Tucupi e Jambu (duck with tucupi and jambu). Tucupi is a yellow sauce extracted from wild manioc root which is actually toxic when it’s raw – luckily it was cooked perfectly! Jambu is a type of flowering herb that is famous for causing a slight numbness in the mouth, although I just noticed its subtle, light flavour. The duck was well-cooked and although normally I like it a little bit more rare, the taste was exceptional and the mild sauce was perfect for the strong flavour of the meat.
At this point I was full, but I have such a sweet-tooth and simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity of a dessert. I went for the Manjar de Coco com Calda de Patchouli (the best I can translate this to would be a coconut flan with a patchouli sauce, which is a type of herb with a vanilla, musky taste). It was served in a shot glass, and although it didn’t look beautiful, it tasted divine. The coconut flan was thick and creamy, and the sauce was sweet yet not overwhelming.
The food draws from French traditions and blends with Brazilian ingredients and
Bistro Ouvidor, Rua do Ouvidor, 52, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cuisine: French with a Brazilian twist
Tel: +55 (21) 99385 7417
Monday – Friday: 8am – 6pm
Saturday: 11am – 4pm
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