Return to Brazil

A couple weeks ago I had a delicious Lambada veggie sandwich. This time we tried the original café/shack right around the corner from the restaurant, where the owner Pedro was working that day. I liked the ambiance of this one even better though, but I like run-down shacky places. Less Brazilian music, more Berkeley sunshine and people watching. There’s little difference between the two other than obligation to tip, but I’m tempted just to visit whichever one the owner Pedro is working in. Still as sweet as ever! But did not give free smoothies which was fine with me. brazilcafe

I thought about getting that sandwich again, but couldn’t pass up the rice bowl. It sounded so promising – rice, carrots, broccoli, onions, avocado, cheese, pineapple, olives, peppers, some ranchy sauce, and then drowned in cilantro-garlic sauce. Comes with a side salad and pita/bread.

without cheese. so pretty! so..7.50

without cheese. so pretty! so..7.50

Looks great but this picture is deceiving because the bowl was honestly only 5 inches in diameter. So at first I thought it was the side salad? But I was sadly mistaken. I didn’t even get the promised side salad or the bread! I guess I should’ve gone to complain (like another lady did twice, they forgot so many components of her order. i suspect they don’t go by anything the menu says and just make the bare minimum until someone asks, as some intentional way to cut costs. for shame) but I was too lazy and not that hungry so they will just have to pay dearly via…this bad review on a blog two people read. The portion was almost laughable – four pieces of pineapple (i hate pineapple in savory food), three olives/jalepenos, three slices of avocado, maybe a tablespoon of hummus, if that. Flashbacks of Cafe Gratitude come to mind, but significantly less awesome.

Tastewise, the bowl was pretty good and satisfying. Not to be harsh but who could mess up rice with avocado, olives, jalapenos, and tons of crack sauce – those are some of my fave eats. I wasn’t a huge fan of the large grain, fluffy rice but that’s their authentic type. It’s just, the bowl was maybe half a pound and you can’t help but calculate that every bite your eating is like, 20 cents. I feel stingy right now but come on people, it’s rice and vegetables! I need some time to cool down. I’m never getting this again, but I just realized a dormant craving for more of Cafe G’s rice bowls.

I leave you with three tri-tip sandwiches. Same numbers as last time

I leave you with three tri-tip sandwiches. Same numbers as last time. If you like beef, get this get this get this

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Gregoire’s vs. Brazil Cafe: A Tale of Two Vegan Sandwiches

All these graduation and goodbye meals are draining my wallet and filling up the blog. And most importantly my stomach.
Lunch today was cornerstone of gourmet ghetto – and not Cheeseboard or Chez Panisse, both of which I’m rather tired of hearing about.
too cute

too cute

Gregoire’s is small and cute like French people. Like the three French people standing behind me the whole time while I was eating at the bar – the only place to sit inside.  It made me want to be extra dainty and cultured in front of them. Then I spilled salad on myself. But they were basically breathing down my neck – the size of the place is its biggest setback, but most people order to go.

i'm making a "takeout container" catergory in my ratings and giving gregoire's a guac award

I'm making a "takeout container" catergory in my ratings and giving Gregoire's a guac award

The macaroni salad was alright cause’ I like it heavy on the vinegar and light on the oil/mayo. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, but I’m not a huge fan of these “salads” in general.

The vegan sandwich (6.5) included “firm tofu Provençal with oven dried tomato & roasted garlic in sliced granary bread. I think they use Semifreddi’s bread because it was chewy and aweseme (also more importantly, I saw the bag) I was apprehensive about the thick layer of brown chutney spread on each side but they turned out to be the garlic addition, completely smashed to a paste. The subtle, smoky, carmelized flavor went well with the marinated tofu which were covered with herbs. The tofu was the perfect texture – soft and creamy but dense and substantial. Kind of like mozzarella cheese without the taste of cheese, which is great for me. I also loved(!) the tomatoes bathing in their olive oil-y, concentrated juices. Like a tomato times ten in terms of flavor explosion. A couple slices of lettuce were shoved in as an afterthought and some color. It seems like there’d be too many competing flavors in this sandwich but they combined well. Wouldn’t have worked with a meat though.

famous potato puffs (4.50)

famous potato puffs (4.50)

I didn’t have the potato puffs this time, but they’re definitely worth getting once. I remember them as mashed potatoey innards formed into balls and fried, lightly salted. The buttery inside and crunchy outside make people delusional and they think it’s the best thing, worth shelling out almost 5 bucks for. Personally dont usually feel need to get it again and would rather get bread pudding instead (didn’t this time). Its deliciousness is really all dependent on the aoili – today it was a curry-based flavor that doesn’t compliment as well as garlic or roasted red pepper aioli. Also, this might be a Midwestern thing, but we had “football fries” every week in elementary school and these taste really similar.

Hot smoked Scottish salmon with creamy spinach in Dutch crunch (7.5)

Hot smoked Scottish salmon with creamy spinach in Dutch crunch (7.5)

My roomie G loved the bread (I love dutch crunch too) and creamed spinach but thought the salmon too thick and soft (almost like sashimi). At first we were impressed it was such a huge slab of fish, but I imagine I would’ve liked it thinner, drier, and chewier.

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take out container attractiveness guacamole


Because I’m a lucky lucky gal, that wasn’t the only sandwich of the day.

stupidly forgot camera. i obvs didn't take this awesome picture and will remove it if any lawsuit arises

stupidly forgot camera. i obvs didn't take this awesome picture and will remove it if any lawsuit arises

The Lambada veggie sandwich (6.5) beats Gregiore’s by a smidgeon, prob cause I’m a sucker for fresh produce. The sandwich is typically made with a layer of ricotta cheese but I asked for it on the side and didn’t have it, because it was flavorless and because the texture of ricotta’s got to be one of my least favorite. Everything else on the sandwich – corn (OMG), shredded carrots (nice, added sweetness), pimento stuffed olives (great flavor and salt to balance, especially for olive lovers), garlic cilantro sauce (fav ingredients!), and another afterthought slice of lettuce – married their flavors and textures perfectly.  On top of that, they use this awesome grainy/seedy bread for the sandwich that reminds me of the sandwiches at Intermezzo which highlight their homemade bread. Though sadly, this wasn’t as dense and quickly became soggy and fell apart before I finished half the sandwich.

free mango smoothie

free mango smoothie

Lots of diners rave about this smoothie, but wasn’t very remarkable. Imagine really sweet mango puree (must’ve been added sugar) blended with ice. But what really matters is that we got these for free with the purchase of sandwiches because apparently the owner Pedro tends to hand out free coupons. One of the girls with us didn’t have a coupon and he gave her one anyway. So Pedro, your smoothies are too sweet for me but you are not.

The three other diners I went with all got the famed tri-tip sandwich in various forms, and each promised that it deserves the hype. I should have a setting on my bathtub that turns on that garlic cilantro sauce so I can slosh around in it.

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service guacamole

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