WARNING WARNING WARNING – Vegetarians, avert your eyes.
OK, now that we carnivores are alone, let me take you with us on a journey to meat nirvana; BahBQ Crows Nest.
Crows Nest was a little further afield than some of our usual jaunts, but the promise of the best Brazilian barbeque in Sydney had us jumping on the friendly red M20 in search of satiation and meat sweats.
We arrived at the venue and stepped through the door and were immediately struck by the décor, which somehow managed to be both sumptuously decadent and at the same time reassuringly warm and comforting. They were also rocking my favourite kind of lighting – the dim kind. I could go on for hours about the beautifying qualities of the merciful and generous dim light, but now is not the time, we have a meat journey to complete.
We were shown to our seat, not by a disinterested and perfunctory teen who wouldn’t know customer service if it slapped her over the face, but instead by a charming, attentive and professional Brazilian man. After a friendly welcome and a succinct explanation, we were left to peruse the mouth-watering menu. In our perusing, we must admit, our eyes did stray from the menu onto the (rather visually pleasing) wait-staff bustling around the restaurant. It was then that we realised that our charming Brazilian waiter was not a one-off, in fact the entire wait-staff was similarly professional and a large proportion were in fact either Brazilian or South American. We took this as another sign that we were soon to be embarking upon an authentic meat journey.
In fact, both the founders of the restaurant were born in Rio Grande Do Sul and learned the traditional way of grilling meats from their fathers. They both left Brazil to further their passion for hospitality and eventually they ran into each other in Australia. Their passion and knowledge of Brazilian grilling led them to create a restaurant where they could share the recipes passed down from their families with the meat-loving Australian public.
Of course we decided to go for the Churrasco experience ($49 including sides and condiments), we most certainly weren’t about to order one of the salads, although we actually saw a few people eating them so they were probably quite good… For those of you who don’t know, Churrasco is a Portuguese term referring to grilled meat in general, but in this context it basically means unlimited meats, sausages, poultry, seafood, haloumi and pineapple which have been spit roasted over charcoal. The lovely waiters circulate around the restaurant with skewers, slicing the meat onto your plate for you.
While we were waiting for the experience to begin we decided to kick off the night with a jug of Sangria which was the Thursday special, for $15.
The non- alcohol drinkers amongst us went for some rather scrummy virgin cocktails $8.
We were then presented with our sides and condiments which were extensive. There were five sides altogether. The mixed fried polenta, cassava, cheese bread and spiced crumbed banana was basically a bowl of crunchy fried goodness.
The black beans and streak bacon stew was one of our favourites with its distinct smokey bacon flavour.
The fine herbed rice with toasted almonds was delicious, but personally I didn’t want to waste stomach space on rice when there were kilos of meat waiting to be consumed. The rocket and parmesan salad added a pleasant touch of refreshing greenery to an otherwise quite rich and indulgent meal. The creamy potato salad was actually the best I’ve ever tasted, with delicate seasoning, but again I tried to restrain myself so as not to fill up on carbs.
We were also presented with Chimichurri, Tomato & Red Pepper Salsa, Chili Jam and Roasted Cassava Flour to have with our meat.
As soon as the waiters started coming around with their metal skewers bearing gifts of unfathomable deliciousness, we all became silly with joy. This picture of me eagerly awaiting my chorizo pretty much says it all.
And this one of Delia..
If those photos don’t depict unbridled joy, I don’t know what does…
We passed well over an hour partaking in a dizzying array of meats, as well as my beloved haloumi and the table favourite of grilled pineapple. The pineapple was covered in a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, honey and mustard seed, creating a sweet and tangy palette cleanser.
All the meats were moist, flavoursome and perfectly seasoned and the variety was unbelievable. The list could go on forever; prawns, chicken wings, chicken livers, beef ribs, pork sausages, chicken thigh, as well as many different cuts of beef, lamb and pork (including rump, rib, flank, rib-eye, etc.) flavoured in a variety of different ways (BBQ’d, marinated, slow roasted, etc.). The Brazilian Picanha (bottom left) was a favourite, providing a delicious slice of true Brazilian flavour.
We stuffed ourselves silly, taking strategic breathers to allow our stomachs to accommodate to even more meat before pressing on. After the meat on the skewers came even more meat, but this time on trays! This included slow braised beef short rib with red wine jus as well as pork belly with plenty of crackling.
Although we had reached new heights of fullness we all agreed that it was a scientific fact that everyone has a separate part of their stomach dedicated to dessert, so of course we went for it.
We weren’t completely reckless though as we modestly decided to share two desserts between four, opting for the Churros with warm Belgian chocolate and caramel fudge ($13) and the Fritada De Banana which was banana fritters with caramel, banana cream and sugared almonds ($13).
The churros were everything they should be; soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside and covered in cinnamon and sugar. We were particularly impressed with the above average dipping sauces; the chocolate was richly flavoured and mercifully not runny, clinging to the churro like a child to its mother.
Although the fish-finger-like shape of this dessert made us laugh at first glance, none of us were laughing after tasting the crunchy banana-y deliciousness which was enhanced by a sweet caramel sauce.
Our night spent at BahBQ could much more accurately be described as an experience rather than just a meal. The way in which the food is served makes it a long and decadent experience which draws out the pleasure of the meal. One of my pet peeves is forking over a chunk of cash for a meal which is over after 20 minutes. Dining out should always be a gustatory experience and the Brazilian founders of BahBQ seem to really understand this. The fun of the Churrasco is also great for big groups and celebrations and the restaurant is clearly well equipped to handle this.
35-37 Albany St, Crows Nest
Phone: (02) 9966 8203
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of BAHBQ; BAHBQ are clients of The Bamboo Garden, a marketing agency owned by the founding editor of I Ate My Way Through – however, as usual, opinions are our own