You’d be forgiven for missing the entrance to Jacarandá, still a relative newcomer to the city’s dining scene, having opened last November 2012. Concealed behind terracotta walls, a garden path leads patrons down to the restaurant, set around the eponymous jacaranda tree, encased like a jewel in a glass box, and forming part of a quaint winter garden that allows natural light and fresh air to filter into the dining area. Tables and chairs surround the winter garden, in a space that is rustic and simple, decorated with refreshing restraint.
Our culinary journey began with a couvert of freshly baked crusty bread, teamed with a choice of olive oil, creamy butter and sea salt, followed by a pair of perfectly seasoned empanadas (R$10), both generously filled, one with cheese, and the other with beef. On to the mains, where a streamlined ten-dish menu makes choosing a straightforward task. For the carnivores, the pork ribs, served with roasted sweet potato (R$51), were a hit – tender and full of flavour.
The grilled steak (Argentinian ‘chorizo’ cut) with roasted pumpkin and gravy (R$65), was good, albeit forgettable. Vegetarians will love Jacarandá’s popular pumpkin, spinach and Canastra cheese lasagne (R$39) which, despite a slight dominance of spinach, was delicious – crunchy on top and creamy inside, with a sweet tomato sauce. Those looking for lighter offerings, perhaps for lunch, should consider the many omelette options, including one served in breadcrumbs filled with cod and chickpeas that piqued our interest.
To round off, we ordered the pudim de queijo da Serra (R$15) – flan made with cheese from the neighbouring state of Minas Gerais. We also opted for chocolate cake with cream (R$12) – divine, creamy, and perfectly sweetened, trumped only by the delightful pudim de doce de leite (caramelised sweetened condensed milk flan, R$12).
There’s no need to let the gourmet experience end with coffee, either. Following the path back out, you’ll spot a rustic pantry on the left, with wooden shelves stocked with traditional goodies for sale. Take a taste of the countryside home with you, whether in mini portions of homemade doce de leite sweets, cheese and guava jelly from Minas Gerais, or specialist farmhouse coffees supplied by one of São Paulo’s most gourmet cafés and coffee brands, Coffee Lab.
Or make your next stop a nightcap: at the beginning of the year, the owners opened Tatu Bar & Palco, a piano bar down in the restaurant’s basement. Head down the stairs to the lowlit, classy space with red leather sofas lining the walls, swivel chairs at the bar, and a little stage that may just beckon you up to sing something shamelessly sultry.