Popup restaurants are the talk of the town this month, with enterprising chefs Checho Gonzales and Henrique Fogaça running a series of dinners alongside guest chefs inside the Centro Cultura Judaíca (catch the last ones on 14 and 15 December 2012; reservations via newdining.com.br).
Meanwhile, the French chef Raphael Despirite, best known for his work at the excellent Marcel restaurant in Jardins, hosts his third series of pop-up dinners, Fechado Para Jantar (for the next dates, pencilled in for mid-January 2013, check facebook.com/fechadoparajantar).
But it’s not all about here-today, gone-tomorrow dining. There’s an exciting new batch of eateries putting down firmer roots, too – and some of them, to our delight, are also ramping up the range and variety of cuisine on offer in this food-mad city.
Case in point: curry. It’s not that there are no curry houses in São Paulo: there are. Tandoor does a decent job of keeping cravings at bay, while the Rua Augusta bargain hotspot, Madhu, keeps it cheap and cheerful – and surprisingly good. But Indian food here has never quite hit our spicy spot. Which is why we’re itching to test drive Samosa and Company – a debut restaurant by the Indian cook Deepali Bavaskar, best known until now for her delicious homemade samosas.
Baskavar promises a colourful space, full of handicrafts, with an intimate twelve tables. Expect homemade North Indian curries ranging from hot and spicy to low-key and savoury – and that ubiquitous favourite, chicken tikka masala.
From homemade to highfalutin, Bistrot Bagatelle is the São Paulo franchise of a jet-set, recession-defying Big Apple eatery with branches in LA, Las Vegas and Miami. Set on a quiet residential street in Jardins in the charming space formerly occupied by Boa Bistrô, the French restaurant is aimed squarely at the city’s sophisticats – ‘people who hang out in places like Saint-Tropez’, as one of the owners was quoted saying in the local press.
Fill up on French classics like moules frites (R$38) and steak béarnaise (R$44) before rolling on with the crowd to the kinds of clubs where quaffing pricey champagne, paraded to your table with sparklers so everyone can clock the big spender, is no doubt de rigueur.
Just a few blocks away, Bodega Franca continues the French theme, albeit with a more egalitarian approach to eating and drinking. More rustic than chic – think white-washed brick walls and chunky wooden tables – the two-storey house serves up Franco-Italian dishes downstairs, while upstairs, a wine shop stocks more than 350 wines, with an affordable selection that includes a Chilean Molineiro Carmenère 2011 at R$39. All the wines can be ordered, with no mark-up, to go with your meal.
From France to Italy, Domenico Ristorante looks set to be an excellent addition to the city’s Italian dining scene, judging solely by the talent in the kitchen. Bright young Italian chef Rodolfo Santis left Biondi (see listings) last month to take up the helm at this unostentatious spot, dedicated to Southern Italian cuisine inspired by the restaurant’s Sicilian owner, Domenico Mira.
Finally, Éclat is a new arrival blending an international menu with Brazilian touches. Find a spot in the turquoise-walled interior, under the grand Da Vinci replica on the ceiling, and graze your way through deep-fried balls of the Amazonian fish pirarucu (R$19), followed by sweet potato gnocchi with beef ragout (R$35).
Prices are correct as of December 2012
Bistrot Bagatelle is at Rua Padre João Manoel 950, Jardim Paulista (3062 5870).
Bodega Franca is at Alameda Franca 1045, Jardim Paulista (3081 3870/ bodegafranca.com.br).
Domenico Ristorante is at Rua Dr Melo Alves 674, Jardim Paulista (3037 7323).
Éclat is at Rua Marcos Lopes 180, Vila Nova Conceição (2337 8810/ eclatrestaurante.com.br).
Samosa and Company is at Padre Machado 137, Bosque de Saúde (4301 8000).