Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim
Telephone (21) 2523 6499
Metrô bus Nossa Senhora da Paz
For a city blessed with some stunning views, it is amazing how many good restaurants and cafés are to be found at the foot of the escalators in a mall or shopping gallery. Carambola is true to type, tucked at the back of the unspectacular Boutiques de Ipanema mall, a bustling little ball of breakfast, lunch and dinner delights surrounded by opticians and travel agents.
Fortunately, breakfast is covered in one fell swoop thanks to an excellent Eggs Benedict (R$15), served on a pillow-soft brioche the sweetness of which contrasts nicely with the squirts of balsamic over the top of a perfectly balanced hollandaise sauce. Chef Maia van Veltham clearly has an eye for the details, using pepper sourced from a tribe in Acre and ice cream from Belém to stand out from the crowd.
The sandwiches provide greater sustenance, with the Frango ao Estragão (R$22.90) consisting of a succulent slab of chicken that melds nicely with the avocado and cream cheese topping. Sprinkle on some diced tomato and red onion and you have a simple, no-nonsense, winning combination.
For dessert, the moist organic banana tart (R$8) will round things off nicely, using just the natural sweetness of the fruit rather than too much sugar. The tapioca com caldo de açaí milkshake (R$14) is a real treat too, where, despite only the faintest hint of açaí, the tiny chunks of chewy tapioca make for a genuine taste of the Amazon and the perfect palate-cleanser.
Carambola also has its own range of uniquely sourced cupboard ingredients for sale, including the aforementioned pepper, preserved baby tomatoes and biscuits, the quality of which rings true with the ingredients used in the kitchen. Carambola may not have the beautiful setting of Maya or the street-side bustle of Cafeína, then, but by virtue of some well-considered touches is more than capable of satisfying the Ipanema brunch crowd and beyond.