Christmas in the summer. That’s how Brazil – and the rest of the Southern Hemisphere – does it. And with the exception of the Aussies perhaps, who sweat it out at Christmas Day ‘barbies’ on the beach, festive feasting south of the equator is an evening affair, held on Christmas Eve with the Ceia de Natal – Christmas dinner. So whether you’re at a loose end in the city come Christmas, hanging up your oven gloves, or simply fancy a change from turkey, we’ve rounded up the best festive menus at restaurants right across town.
At sleek Spanish restaurant Eñe, dishes are typically small but beautifully presented. Highlights of the six-course Christmas Eve menu (R$180 excluding drinks) are the roast pork txuleton de bodega, and the traditional Spanish festive pudding – Torrija de Santa Teresa – humble fried cinnamon bread given a contemporary twist with brioche soaked in orange-scented milk.
Continuing the Spanish theme, Baby Beef Rubaiyat is preparing a feast fit for a thousand Kings. Loosen your belts for the all-you-can-eat buffet (R$280 per person with half a bottle of wine, children R$140) where it’s as much about quality as quantity. Graze on salmon gravalax, pata negra ham and copious salads before hitting the hot stuff, with paella Valenciana, roast turkey or grilled lobster.
Baby Beef’s sister restaurant A Figueira Rubaiyat goes for a more traditional take on Christmas with roast turkey, albeit bookended with five other courses including black hake (merluza negra), and slow-roasted lamb from the Rubaiyat farm. Sit under the shade of the restaurant’s namesake fig tree and take Christmas overindulgence to a new level with the dessert buffet laden with over twenty options before rolling home (24 and 25 December. R$350 per person with half a bottle of wine, children R$175).
It’s Joyeux Noël on Christmas Eve at cosy French restaurant, La Casserole (R$170 per person excluding drinks), with a menu of rich ingredients including foie gras and duck confit, followed by meringue topped with chestnut ice cream and chocolate sauce. Or for decadent French food in Itaim, head to smart French Freddy (R$199 per person) on Christmas Eve, where scallops and foie gras grace the menu alongside roast turkey.
Finally, celebrate Portuguese style on either 24 or 25 December at A Bela Sintra (3 course menu R$350 per person) or at sister restaurant Trindade where a special menu includes salt cod cooked in olive oil and garlic (R$110) or roast turkey stuffed with spinach and Portuguese sausage (R$85). Feliz Natal!
A Bela Sintra is at Rua Bela Cintra 2325, Jardim Paulista (3891 0740, abelasintra.com.br).
A Figueira Rubaiyat is at Rua Haddock Lobo 1738, Jardim Paulista (3087 1399, rubaiyat.com.br). Read more on A Figueira Rubaiyat
Baby Beef Rubaiyat is at Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima 2954, Itaim Bibi (3165 8888, babybeef.com.br).
Eñe is at Rua Dr. Mário Ferraz 213, Jardim Paulistano (3816 4333, enerestaurante.com.br). Read more on Eñe
Freddy is at Rua Pedroso Alvarenga 1170, Itaim Bibi (3167 0977, restaurantefreddy.com.br)
Le Casserole is at Largo do Arouche 346, Santa Cecília (3331 6283, lacasserole.com.br). Read more on Le Casserole
Trindade is at Rua Amauri 328, Itaim Bibi (3079 4819, trindaderestaurante.com.br).