Boteco BKC – haven for red-meat lovers
Mumbai’s first Brazilian restaurant in BKC
BKC is so much easier to navigate on the weekend! One such lazy, overcast Saturday saw us at Boteco BKC to sample the much hyped red-meat lovers Nirvana. Boteco is tucked away in a quiet corner of BKC, further along the O Pedro lane. Whether it’s the natural light filtering in through the stained glass windows, the vibrant art on the walls, the colourful floor tiles, the touch of greenery with potted plants dotting the place, the light teak furniture or the artfully lit bar emanating an almost ethereal green glow, it all seems to be designed to put you at ease and help all the stresses of the week melt away.
Soup & Pao de queijo
Boteco apparently means a watering hole or bar where you go to get wasted. Since we got there for lunch, we decided to keep the hard drinking for a later visit and focus on the food. The carrot-orange soup and cheese ball (solitary!) served as an amuse bouche created a warm, mellow feeling and put us in the right frame of mind for an unhurried ordering of our food experience. We started with the signature Pao de queijo, a bread made with tapioca flour and stuffed with cheese – warm, crispy on the outside and chewy, cheesy on the inside. These would have been heavenly if they had been salted right but ended up tasting of nothing! Wish we had ordered the pork sausage stuffed red-meat version! Some kind of butter-herb emulsion aka the balsamic vinegar-EVOO heavenly marriage that we get to dunk our focaccias in wouldn’t go amiss either.
Carpaccio & Momos
The beef (buffalo) carpaccio suffered from the same fate. The almost rose blush on the red-meat matched the color of the Sula Brut Rose the son was drinking. I did mention no drinks, but wine, especially Rose does not really count. The capers or the greens it was served on could not rescue the meat from an under-salted blandness. The pork momos completed our trio of appetizers and had none of the light airiness that a good momo skin should have. It behaved more like a gyoza with a thicker, slightly chewy skin. The soy, caramel sauce partly rescued these and we used it to dunk the last bits of our queijo in.
Red-meat heaven – chili steak & slow cooked lamb
For mains, zeroed in on the star of the show – the Churrasqueira or charcoal grill Chili steak. The red-meat grilled with salt and chili butter was outstanding! This kind of red-meat quality is so rare to see in Mumbai. It called the Nuer Koo Wagyu beef we had in Bangkok yearningly to mind. Red-meat such as this should definitely not be drowned in heavy sauces and the accompaniments served with it take on a lot of significance, to deliver the flavour hit.
The chili steak came accompanied by 10 different things in really minuscule bowls – mashed cassava, tapioca chips, pineapple chunks, a salsa, sautéed mushrooms, a hot sauce, a mustard sauce, chilli butter, onion and bread-like crumble and roasted tomatoes. None of these worked to accentuate the grilled red-meat unfortunately, though this did not stop the son from trying to drown it in the chili butter. Even if it were just one generous portion of say a creamy mushroom sauce, I suspect the steak would have gone from great to sublime.
The other main course we tried was the fork-tender, slow cooked lamb served with rocket leaves and polenta fries. Great red-meat quality but again, not enough of a flavour pop. The mashed cassava puree base further dulled the flavour of the dish. We finished with the eggy Quindim, a baked custard with coconut – strictly in the okay and not worth repeating class. That was our Boteco BKC experience!
The spice and chili loving Indian palate would find Brazilan cuisine to be too muted. Italian food finds the balance by smothering it with cheese or serving up chilies alongside. If Brazilian food has to find enough f(l)avour in India, this puzzle needs to be solved. The red-meat will take it on from there! A piece of art on Boteco’s wall suggests, ‘when in doubt, shimmy on’. I am sure Chef Souza at Boteco BKC is closely monitoring all the feedback and he will shimmy right on.