Sunday, January 30, 2005

chicken hearts, grilled pineapple and flying cutlery

Since the first time I went out with the Chowhound dining group went OK, decided to check out their January destination Friday night. This month's pick: Red Violin, a Brazilian BBQ at Danforth and Broadview.

The evening got off to a rocky start, when I went into the wrong resto. I briefly lost the ability to match the sign above the correct door - I entered the Latin restaurant next door, left a puzzled maitre'd when none of the names I rhymed off were on the reservation list, then finally noticed a review in the window. After heading next door, all was good.

To start, they offered up a salad/seafood bar. Not exactly your offering of limp iceberg, the spread featured hot and cold seafood (great shrimp in tomato sauce), a variety of cheese, slices of guava paste, various vegetable salads and addictive thumb-sized cheese bread. All delicious.

Soon after, servers came around with large skewers, each with a different type of meat. They came to each person at the table, set down their cutting board, then either slid or carved the meat off the skewer, depending on the size of the cut. One of the early skewers contained chicken hearts, which turned out to be excellent (it later came as a shock to learn Mom, who doesn't usually care for oddball parts, wasn't revolted when I told her I ate these, as she used to like them). Marinated, mostly garlicy cuts of BBQed chicken, pork, beef and lamb were brought to the table, along with perfectly-baked salmon. The only cut I didn't try was chicken leg, figuring I'd had other portions of the bird. Of the rest, only the pork was a miss - it had a nice citrusy marinade, but was too dry. As for the serving method, the joke going around was what the Brazilian word for "meatboy" might have been.

One other problem became a running joke. I couldn't keep my cutlery on the table. Several times, it went flying on the floor, usually while attempting to move it out of the way for the next round of meat. Nothing like klutziness as an icebreaker. It was worth a few good laughs.

Side dished included rice, black beans, a bowl of some starchy substance, potatoes, mushrooms, battered plantains/bananas and a pico de gallo-like sauce. Most of us washed it down with cans of sweet, slightly fruity guarana pop.

The last skewer brought out before repeats of the other items was a whole grilled pineapple, dusted in cinnamon. I was the first to sample, having to use tongs to pull the slice away. One bite and I good feel my eyes bulge. I wouldn't be surprised if anyone said that I made Homer Simpsonesque noises. Mmmmm...juicy goodness. So tasty, so juicy, so perfect. Similar reactions littered the table. Lost count of how many pineapples were devoured.

We all felt sleepy after consuming so much meat. We stayed for a bit of show, though none of us joined the other diners on the dance floor. We may have had enough satisfaction for the evening. - JB

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