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For three decades, Olympe has occupied a small house on the thin strip between Jardim Botânico and the Lagoa, from where it has quietly gone about the important business of conjuring up some of the city's most cherished and adventurous (not to mention exclusively priced) dishes.
To mark the anniversary, the interior has been transformed with a dash of contemporary sophistication where the focus is very much on the food, with the exposed brick walls left shorn of artwork (only one painting of the city's landscape remains from the renovations). Other eye-catching changes are a large wine rack through which a window onto the kitchen offers a glimpse of father-and-son team Claude and Thomas Troisgros (more often the latter) and their team composing plates of food like artists at work.
Eschewing tricks and gimmicks, the duo rely on unlikely taste combinations, invariably deployed with a masterful touch, with their French influences decorating a truly Brazilian heart. Scallops, lightly grilled and served with a pupunha (palm heart) doce de leite and farofa are a case in point. Purple potato gnocchi with bacalhau, Canastra cheese crisps and an array of brightly coloured herbs, create a visual impact second only to the textures of the individual elements on show.
The five-dish tasting menu (R$260 or R$390 harmonized with wine) can be created from a list of options (A Criação), or left in the hands of the experts (A Confiança). Clever touches abound, such as the raw salmon served with cubes of watermelon soaked in soy sauce to resemble tuna sashimi, giving an idea of the detail in the craft, but there is room for more classic refined touches too: the lamb shoulder canneloni with black truffle consommé is exquisitely rich.
Eight sacred dishes remain on the à la carte menu, as they have done since day one (among them a red snapper with aubergine confit (R$99) and beef tenderloin with a green pepper and rosemary crust (R$108)), while the desserts (all R$29) are a lesson in French refinement. The creme brulée is wilfully accompanied by a light chocolate mousse, but a raspberry soufflé, crepe and mille feuille are also present and utterly correct.
24 Apr 2013.