Telephone (21) 2509 3970
Rio's historic Centro neighbourhood is increasingly returning to the attentions and affections of cariocas, and dotted around the edge of Praça XV lie some of the best museums, cultural centres and architectural delights anywhere in the city, as well as a host of excellent restaurants and bars. Casarão 1881 has become part of this resurgence, a restaurant housed in a former textile factory dating back to, you guessed it, 1881 and a delightful respite from the proliferation of por kilo buffet restaurants that dominate area's dining experiences.
The menu is simple but the food delicious. Many of the dishes are original creations of owner Sueli, in turn inspired by recipes from her mother. Cold soups are served daily as a complimentary appetiser and there's good news for anyone doing battle with the scales - Casarão offers a special calorie-counting menu for those who cannot deviate from their diets. The grilled meat with chimichurri sauce and green salad (R$23.50) apparently racks up just 325 calories. Adding to the restaurant's green credentials the menus are printed on recycled paper and the kitchen reuses fruit and vegetable skins wherever possible. This leads to unusual concoctions like potato skin balls, farofa from watercress stems, sweets from banana skin and soft drinks using the peel from oranges previously thrown out after making juices.
A lively post-work hangout, a highlight of the ever popular happy hour are the house speciality bolinhos de feijoada fried bean balls to accompany a relaxing, cold beer in the subsiding heat of the day. Also available for private hire, with room for up to 150 people.