Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sunday in Stamford promised to be a beautiful day. The temperature would be slightly higher than average, the sun was shining and there wasn't a hint of precipitation in the air. So started the day that would lazily mosey across time and end on a high note. Sunday was also a special day for us as we would be attending our very first Stamford "Meet Up" event with the new group that we joined. The occasion: brunch; the restaurant: Brasitas.

Just from taking a peek at the menu, I had high hopes. On an emotional level, I know I shouldn't set myself up like that. However, somewhere in the back of my mind, there is always that streak of desire that runs rampant that won't allow me to bring the pessimism out front and center—that is, not until after an experience has completely run amok.

Brasitas pats themselves on the back by saying they serve "authentic ethnic food". This can be a little deceiving because although one may take a stab in the dark and guess that with a name like Brasitas that it is, indeed, Latin, but is there a particular region that the food reflects? In the end, it didn't really matter because the meal would have been delicious had I been stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean with nothing but a lifeboat, a couple of toothpicks, a bottle of hot sauce and a rubber band (in which case, my name would have been MacGyver and I could have built any meal that I wanted out of my meager scraps).

Not a very large place, Brasitas was bursting with color as soon as we walked in the door. Of course, getting inside would have meant that we would have had to initially park somewhere. A word of caution: for all intents and purposes, there is no parking. Okay, there's a tiny lot out back, but basically its catch-as-catch can. We ended up parking in the lot of a hardware store across the street, even with the threat of signs that promised to tow cars of non-customers (even though the shop was closed). But you see, we're rebels; that's how we roll.

When we arrived, Carol and Danielle were the only two of our small group of six to arrive. Hubby and I doubled that number. I wasn't sure what to make of the munchies that had already been placed on the table: crisp plantains and salsa. Okay, I've heard of salsa with nacho chips, but never with plantains. From a culinary perspective, perhaps I've led a sheltered life, but I figured the worst that could happen if I tried it would be I wouldn't like it. I tried it. I liked it. Nevertheless, I think my proclivities tended to lean more in the direction of a stiff tortilla chip with my salsa.

No sooner had my husband and I sat down when a waiter appeared, presumably out of thin air, and took our drink orders. Okay, so it's brunch on a Sunday afternoon, and I'm never one to shy away from a brunch-inspired glass of liquid refreshment. My choices were the classic Mimosa, Sangria or Jugos de Fruta (fresh fruit juices). I opted for the sangria since Carol had spoken so fondly of Brasitas' concoctions when we dined at another restaurant a week earlier. Truth be told, I had one helluva time trying to keep her from swallowing her tongue in anticipation. In my opinion, that display of emotion screams "Yum!" I have to admit, Carol's thumbs-up verdict was definitely aimed in the right direction.

While we munched on plantains and sangria, another brave soul arrived to join our group. Alain took one look at the glasses of sangria that Carol and I were practically chewing—you have to witness for yourself the chunks of fruit in this drink—and ordered one for himself. Fifteen minutes later, Julie rounded out our little group of six and we were ready to get down to some serious eating. Meals were ordered. Mouths were watering. Anticipation was swirling out of control. We were rising up against hunger and it was about to get ugly up in the joint. The hunger in our eyes screamed "Don't say we didn't warn you!"

Carol and Danielle were the first to get their plates. I attempted, in vain, to distract Carol so I could sneak a bite of her Breakfast Perico Tacos, but she was too crafty an opponent. This wasn't your ordinary tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, scallions and potatoes. The black beans and salsa added to the array of colors on her plate. I was fine with Carol's intuition for preservation of her food; there were still four other people at the table; I had more diversions up my sleeve.

Danielle ordered the Lomo de Cerdo al Horno, which was citrus marinated pork with avocado, pickled onions, manchego cheese, tomatoes, mojo and greens. I would have attacked her plate like a kamikaze pilot just for the manchego alone; however, the pork was enough to thwart my plans since that isn't my meat of choice. But according to Danielle, the food was delicious. I'll take her word for it.

Next, a square plate was placed in front of Maarten filled with a nicely presented dish called La Aurora Omelette. The omelette looked more like a pastry with a fluffy, golden brown exterior, while inside it contained salmon, capers and herbs, and was topped by a small bed of salad greens. Ordinarily I wouldn't be one to stuff seafood in an omelette, but one taste of it proved me wrong. The flavor was light and delicate—or in more direct terms, not fishy—and the herbs were the perfect complimentary blend.

When Alain's plate arrived, I was impressed just by the sheer look of the plate. Aesthetically, it was, well, pretty. The medallions of grilled beef loin of the Ensalada de Berros con Carne were artfully displayed in a ring along with the diced tomatoes, onions, watercress, cheese arepita (ground corn bread stuffed with cheese) and spinach. As with pork, beef is not on my list of food to eat; however, aside from the beef being a little chewy, Alain enjoyed the dish overall.

Finally, my Salmon al Sarten con Arroz y Moro arrived. The display of black iron seared salmon resting atop a mound of moro rice was so good looking I was almost loathe to eat it. Almost. However, hunger has a way of pushing everything else out of the realm of possibility. Besides, I figured I could take a picture and it would last longer. I'm not the biggest fan of undercooked fish, so, going out on the proverbial limb, I requested my salmon prepared well done. Brasitas did the salmon justice. Even though well done, it was not dried out, tough or chewy. They struck the perfect balance in what is usually a disparity between the "doneness" of the thinner ends of a cut of salmon versus the center, which tends to be thicker and takes a little longer to cook. The entire dish was swimming in a light and tantalizing roasted poblano cream sauce. The subtle flavor of the mild poblano pepper was far from overpowering, so it did very little to compete with the flavors of the rice and salmon, and harmonized so well with the dish as a whole that it would have been an injustice to not have it on the plate. Was I happy with the salmon al sarten con arroz y morro? Without a doubt. It would be difficult for me not to order it again on my next brunchtime visit to Brasitas.

Julie was the last to arrive and place her order; hence, her dish was the last to hit the table. Still, this small fact did not stop Brasitas from moving with impressive speed to cook her Guatemala to order, and time-wise it wasn't too far behind the rest of the table. Scrambled eggs and white rice filled her plate along with tortillas, plantains, black beans and queso fresco (fresh cheese). Once again, the dish received praises.

Was Brasitas everything I expected? That, and more. And this merely include selections from their brunch menu. One look at the lunch and dinner menus is more than enough to convince me that I will be docking on Brasitas' doorstep once again in the very near future.

Would I recommend Brasitas? Without a doubt, they are very near the top of my “Go, Eat, Enjoy!” list.

Is Brasitas a good value or do you need to take out a loan to eat here? When you consider the caliber of the food, the portion sizes and that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you reluctantly push yourself away from the table after you’ve finished, this is an excellent value. Be sure to check out the lunch menu as well as the dinner menu (with spectacular dishes like sautéed shrimp in scallions, grilled skirt steak or Caribbean chicken) which is, naturally, a little pricier than the brunch and lunch menus.

What about atmosphere and ambience? The Latin flavor isn’t overwhelming in the music or the décor (although that definitely wouldn't be a bad thing). It’s just a great, comfortable place to be. The tables are small, but you don’t get the sense that you’re about to sit on your neighboring table’s lap, and even though small, for me there was no sense of claustrophobia. The Latin music that streams from the speakers is set at a very comfortable level and isn’t so loud that you have to shout to be heard.
Brasitas is open 7 days a week. Check out the website for your chance to win a free lunch!

No comments:

Post a Comment