Chico e Alaíde
Telephone (21) 2529 2329
Metrô bus Baixo Leblon
Putting a fresh spin on the classic rodizio (all-you-can-eat) style that dominates Rio's meatiest restaurants comes Claude Troisgros' latest Leblon venture. CT Boucherie, his eponymous 'butchers' on the famous gastro-strip Rua Dias Ferreira, is of course meat-centric, but the rodizio format - waiters buzzing around generously topping up plates - deals with just the vegetables here, and in some style. Forget bland peas and broccoli, it's all about the rich cauliflower cheese, roasted palm hearts, creamy Peruvian quinoa risotto and stuffed tomatoes.
The interior is half old-style butchers (complete with red and white-striped awning and huge meat slicers) and half Italian deli, with dried meats hanging from the ceiling and sharply dressed waiters in one-shouldered aprons. A small outdoor terrace and mirrored dining room make for a bustling and typically carioca informality. Claude's son Thomas Troisgros commands the kitchen, taking care of a refreshingly compact but comprehensive menu. The starters of brie with chili jam on morcels of fried aipim and delicate carpaccio with equally fine slices of watermelon are exquisite.
A selection of salads (from R$25) will please non-carniverous types, ranging from deliciously thick slices of smoked salmon scattered with cashews and apple to the classic buffalo mozzarella, whilst in a nice touch the vegetable rodizio can be ordered on its own as a main (R$34).
As should be the case in any good butchers, however, meat rules the roost. The house burger (R$32) is freshly made and pleasingly chunky on a slightly sweet bun, and everything from the prime rib (R$82) and chateaubriand (R$62) to the house version of Kobe beef, Wagyu (R$168), becomes all the more enjoyable as an ever changing combination of vegetables lands on your plate. Meanwhile the namorado filet with chimichurri sauce is an abject lesson in how fish can be at once delicate and satisfying enough to rival red meat.
The wine list is dominated by well-known French classics. They may not come cheaply, starting at around R$80 and up to R$180, but the numerous bottles stuffed into cooler buckets and lining the walls certainly encourage a little experimentation.