Whether it’s the alluring window displays, or the tell-tale signs of plastic surgery on the faces of the moneyed, aging dames passing by, there’s so much to catch your eye at street level on the upmarket shopping strip Rua Oscar Freire that you may have never looked up and noticed the building at number 1128.
A sculptured stack of container-like boxes, clad in glass and mirrored steel, it was originally designed by the modish architects at Franco-Brazilian studio Triptyque as a concept store for Levi’s and Calvin Klein Jeans. Following a refit it opened at the end of 2013 as Chez Oscar, a five-storey café-bar-restaurant, with a stunning outdoor dining space on the first floor.
The team behind Chez Oscar already owns a couple of trendy São Paulo spots, namely Bar Secreto and Chez MIS, and the combination here of a striking building and the group’s hallmark look – draped ropes, naked bulbs and a melting mass of candles – all look set to make this a further sexy spot to complete the trio.
Bars cover the top three floors – head straight to the middle one to join the beautiful people enjoying a drink under the night sky, looking up to the coloured antennae along Avenida Paulista. For diners, however, the experience may be underwhelming. The menu is a mish-mash of comfort foods and salads with just a handful of more interesting, albeit pricier, choices, like the grilled tuna with a lime and ginger sauce (R$69) or the ‘tropical’ Kobe beef (R$170, 400 kg).
At lunchtime, a buffet offers a distinctly unexciting selection of salads and a hot main with rice and beans, for a hefty price tag (R$49). We went à la carte, starting with a delicious, if small, bruschetta with Serrano ham and roasted tomatoes (R$27).
The steak Milanese (R$56), on the other hand, was generously proportioned, and perfectly crunchy, while the prawn risotto (R$64) was let down by the mass of stodgy rice, studded with chunks of mushy melon, accompanying the tender prawns. A dark, Belgian chocolate mousse (R$19) ended the meal on a high. To experience Chez Oscar in all its glory, make yours an evening visit, with dinner as optional.