Latching onto São Paulo’s culinary fad-of-the-moment, the team behind successful nightspots like Bar Original, Astor and Bráz have turned their Midas touch to tapas. The same winning formula – consistently good service, good food and hard-won know-how for spotting a niche in the market – has made the recently opened ¡Venga! an instant hit.
Heading down to see if the place would live up to the hype, we grazed our way through a selection of rather hit-and-miss tapas. The Catalan classic, pan con tomate (country bread with tomato, R$8.50), came studded with inedible rocks of salt. The solomillo de cerdo (pork with a blue cheese sauce, R$22.50) was tasty, but the highlight for us was the rabo de buey (R$27) – oxtail falling apart on a rich, creamy mash with a sherry reduction. Beware though: the portions are too small to even make a dent in one person’s hunger, so big eaters or larger groups will need to spend big bucks if they plan to make this an evening meal.
For smaller groups, the small jug of sangria (R$29) – just enough for two – is a refreshing place to start; or there’s an extensive selection of Spanish wines, with three served by the glass (starting at R$17.50). Bottles of Rioja start from R$69 for the rich, chocolaty Luis Cañas Tempranillo.
To get in amongst the action, score a seat at the V-shaped bar, the centre-piece of the quirkily decorated space – think rusting warehouse chic with upturned barrels, and hanging pans and hams – the perfect spot for some crowd- and kitchen-watching.