Descending from 4th Avenue, near Union Square, deep into the belly of the Hyatt Hotel, sits a delightful fine Brazilian restaurant, Botequim. Down the stairs and into a fairly large space with well-set tables, candlelight ambiance and Brazilian artwork on the walls, diners sit readying themselves for both a “trendy” yet equally satisfying experience. The food here is dazzling.
Chef Marco Moreira presides over the kitchen and offers traditional Brazilian fare that has been glazed with sophistication and care. Each plate that leaves the kitchen is poured over, in detail, to be sure it meets his visual standards. This isn’t your typical shaved meat paired with beans and rice. Instead, starters like pão de queijo (small, soft circles of bread made from cheese and tapioca flour), garlicky calabresa sausage and pastelzinhos (small cheese and meat filled pies) make an appearance. Fried croquettes of salted cod are also on offer, and pack a flavorful punch.
After a couple of the house’s homemade caipirinhas (offered with varying fruit juices – I had pomegranate), we moved on to the main event. Chef Moreira is known for his suckling pig and, as someone who doesn’t eat a great deal of pork, made me gasp in delight when I tried it. On the menu there is also a fantastic vegetarian feijoada and moqueca (a traditional seafood stew) from the Brazilian state of Bahia. Here, they use only the best seafood like large prawns and braised black sea bass in a tomato-coconut broth. Delicious.
The evening wrapped-up with a smattering of desserts, including famous chocolate brigadeiros. The staff at Botequim is very friendly and, best of all, you don’t have to yell across the table to have a conversation. It’s lively, yet not aggressive as in many New York City restaurants. Botequim really does offer the best in food and ambiance, allowing diners to experience Brazil at its very finest.