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Few things warm the heart more than a tale of one man and his dog. In the case of Rex, the funky new late-night supper club from the chef Cassio Machado of B&B Burger & Bistrot fame, among others, the dog in question is one Baboo, Machado’s late Rottweiler.
The mutt is reproduced in kitschy sculpture form by a number of local artists, forming a founding theme for the restaurant – a narrow, whimsical space that’s part Studio 54-style overzealousness, part Basquiat dream world.
Settle back and soak up the eclectic, sensory overload as you browse the menu of creative burgers and simple bistro fare with a twist, and you might start to notice that there’s something special going on here, besides the novelty of eating sophisticated cuisine until 4am in Jardins.
It starts with the wines by the glass: There are two red options which, without prompting, you can try before you buy. Now that’s a first. Later, with the glass nearing empty, the waiter took it upon himself to pour us a chorinho – a little extra, on the house. The glass was nearly half full again.
The creative menu includes the likes of filet mignon with wasabi, ginger and rosemary (R$49) or salmon tweaked with a tart raspberry vinaigrette (R$54). We opted for the salmon, a brie and truffled tomato-laced burger (R$35) and some excellent mixed mushrooms swimming in garlic-lime butter (R$35). And before we could call for ‘a conta’, the waiter was back, this time with an aperitif of Cointreau infused with rosemary, yellow curry, ginger, orange peel and dedo-de-moça chilli pepper – another wholly unexpected chorinho.
This prompted skepticism at the table: ‘Does he know there’s a food critic here?’ But when asked if all these little gestures were, in fact, the norm, the waiter responded, ‘Yes. The owners let us decide how best to please customers.’ Empowerment. Sometimes that’s just as heartwarming.