Telephone (21) 2259 2396
Metrô bus Jardim Botânico
If only everything in life was as simple as ordering dinner at File de Ouro. The menu may well look like a carniverous periodic table at fast glance, unnecessarily repeating information for every portion size of one to six people, but it is a reassuring fastidiousness that is thankfully replicated in the delivery of the house speciality, Brazilian beef.
First things first, though, this is a traditional Rio family restaurant in the most literal of terms. The decoration barely warrants the word, the atmosphere during the week is more library than lively, and the waiters definitely adopt the old school approach to service. Not necessarily in a good way, except perhaps for the sharp white jackets. So why at the weekends, from opening to (early) closing, are there always hoards of locals queueing in the blazing sunshine to get inside? The answer, my friend, is lying in the meat.
At Filé de Ouro the beef is offered in three different cuts, with the filé (fillet steak) and contra-filé (sirloin) served whole or in thick slices and the picanha, that most celebrated of Brazilian barbecue meats with a sizeable layer of fat left on for good measure, is sliced extra-thin to maximise the flavour. And what flavour. Whatever it is the owners do to their slabs of beef downstairs is well worthy of the gold in the name, with a depth of flavour rare even in the high-end churrascarias.
Each cut can be ordered in a host of confusing styles, too (15 to be precise), like the Oswaldo Aranha, named after a politican from the South and served with a golden heap of fried garlic and egg farofa (the initially suspicious manioc flour crumbs that soak up the juices and become a firm friend by the end of the meal). Other sides include a wonderfully thick feijão (black bean stew), the house salad complete with crunchy cauliflower and palm heart, a dollop of creamy mashed potato or the batatas portugueses, the freshly fried crisps.
The wine list is also paired down to just the essentials, with the Chilean Carmenere or Cabernet Sauvignon (R$67) a safe bet, although the chopp (draught beer) is one of the creamiest around. Desserts are as traditional as they come, too, with a pudim (essentially an ultra-sweet creme caramel) and thick slab of chocolate mousse taking the prizes, making Feile de Ouro perfect for those who think culinary adventure is pointless, and that idiosyncratic touches are endearing rather than off-putting.