In my quest to find London’s best rodízio restaurant, I met up with fellow Brazilian food blogger Rosana McPhee of Hot & Chilli and headed to the Victoria branch of Rodízio Preto. For those not familiar with the rodizio style of Brazilian restaurant, there is more information in my earlier post on Rodízio Rico which you can read here. As explained, rodízio derives from the word “to rotate” and the term is most commonly applied to restaurants serving barbecued meats (also known as Churrascarias).
In such restaurants, waiters go around the tables holding skewers with large pieces of barbecued meat which they will slice at your table. Green and red cards are given to each diner, and these are used to let the waiters know when you have had enough, or decide to have a break. A fixed price is paid per person, which entitles you to eat as much as you like of your favourite dishes. Prices and quality of ingredients and cooking vary tremendously from place to place in Brazil, but are generally of good standard and value since competition among this style of restaurants is fierce.
With two branches in Victoria (Wilton Street) and Putney (Putney High Street), and a third opening soon in the West End (Shaftesbury Avenue), Rodízio Preto is the second largest Brazilian rodízio restaurant in London after Rodízio Rico.
Unlike many other restaurants of this kind with their hideously fake Gaucho-style decor, their smallest branch in Victoria has a modern feel, with brightly coloured walls, plain dark wood tables and a TV screen playing Brazilian music videos (I could have done without the latter).
The hot buffet was simple and had fewer choices than Rodizio Rico’s. It was beautifully displayed containing some traditional Brazilian dishes like Salada de Chu Chu, Baiao de Dois (rice and beans, cassava flour and meats), Frango com Milho e Batata Palha (chicken and sweetcorn bake with matchstick chips) among others.
We felt that most of the buffet dishes were good but some items, like the deep-fried polenta and the Pao de Queijo, would have been better freshly prepared and served at the table rather than being batch cooked and left on the warming tray.
A big advantage with Rodízio Preto is that Feijoada, Brazil’s national dish of black beans and pork stew served with rice and fried spring greens, is available at weekends along with the more usual hot buffet and barbecued meats. If you have not yet tried Feijoada, I really recommend it.
Rodízio Preto serves up to 15 different cuts of meat. Rosana and I felt that the quality of meats served at Preto was good and that they had the edge over Rodizio Rico’s. There were some outstanding items including picanha (top sirloin) marinated in garlic and a very succulent and tender cut of pork fillet. All the meats were simply but well seasoned and were offered either rare, medium rare or well done.
Rodízio Preto offers a good selection of Brazilian and other international beers at around £4 including Itaipava, Bohemia, and Brahma. More impressive is their well priced wine list with a respectable range of wines from Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Italy including several bottles under £20. On our visit, Rosana and I shared a bottle of excellent 08 Chianti Classico priced at a very reasonable £18.70.
I was surprised to see the Brazilian Miolo Millesime sparkling wine (a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) offered at £25.20 while the same bottle is priced at £35 at Rodízio Rico. Again I felt that Preto offered better choices of wine and at more affordable prices than its main competitor.
Cost: £19.95 per person for unlimited hot buffet, salad bar and grilled meats (£3.55 less than Rodízio Rico @ £23.50), or £14.95 (hot buffet and salad bar), £4.95 for children under 12 years old, excluding drinks and desserts. I believe this to be great value, particularly for meat lovers and families with children.
Likes: good quality and range of Brazilian grilled meats, friendly service, Feijoada available at weekends, great value, well priced wine list.
Dislikes: some items from the buffet would be better freshly prepared and served hot from the kitchen directly at the tables including Pao de Queijo and deep fried polenta. I really dislike restaurants with television screens.
Verdict: Rodizio Preto is the best restaurant of its kind in London serving good quality barbecued meats and other traditional Brazilian dishes at very reasonable prices. Friendly service and lively atmosphere. This is the closest you will get to the real Brazilian rodizio experience in the UK. Highly recommended.
Written by Luiz Hara. You can read more of his restaurant reviews and articles on food in London at The London Foodie.