"It's not much but it's ours"

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I hear tell from my female friends that a Brazilian is a process that, while quick, is excruciatingly painful. A good description of our night’s work.

Our meal tonight at Mocoto lasted exactly seventy five minutes from arrival to departure by which time they had shorn us of £100 and most of our dignity.

Mocoto is situated in the location which formerly housed Isola. I went there once nearly eight years ago and £250 for two later emerged with my view of Oliver Peyton firmly reinforced. His sole contribution to London restaurants is to look at what Conran is doing and then set the bar just that little bit lower.

He once made the mistake of walking a room ( in Mash I think ) where HP was eating and asking him what he thought of the meal. Poor sod. After ten minutes of detailed reasoning from HP as to why he was a worthless scab magnet he gurgled “ you just don’t understand what we are trying to do here” which, I understand from HP ,who was well in his cups by then, provoked the response “ trust me, I understand exactly what you are trying to do here” Bravo my brother.

As always, he opened well with Bruno Loubet at the helm and got good crit before letting it slide inevitably and unchecked into a machine for extracting money from people who would not know a good meal if it slapped them in the face.

Now the site is owned ( I believe ) by the people who own MOMO. That is a different schtick. Their idea of success is to persuade ageing rock stars to have birthday parties in their places. On that basis, I suspect this will be a huge success.

I arrived a few moments before HP and settled at the bar for a badly made Caipirinha which was overly sweet and £8 to boot. HP arrived and downed one of the same before we descended downstairs to a room that seemed little changed from its days as the Isola wine bar apart from a few frighteningly hairy hide covered seats.

Given the nature of the restaurant, there is precious little that shrieks “ Brazilllll” on the menu. Indeed, most of it seems fairly bland euro nosh with a translation into Portugese to make you think you are within whistling distance of a girl in a dental floss bikini.

The limitations of the menu meant that we only ordered one starter each rather than three between us as there was nothing else we wanted. When they arrived, we didn’t really want this and certainly not for the price. My Crab gratinee was the single most parsimonious dish I can recall in recent memory. A truly tiny portion of sludgy brown crab meat served in the shell of a queenie scallop, bulked out with nondescript cheese and breadcrumbs. Yours for a paltry £9.50. When I later mentioned to the waiter that this was a shameful price for such, well, crap, he offered up the following explanation

“well, it is fresh crab”

That has to rate right up there with “chef’s just opened the tin” as the lamest response in restaurant history and at least the latter is fictional. Shame on them.

Shame on them too for a steak tartar that, while at £8.50 was not such a shameless rip off as my crab, still offered little of any value at all. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that the quail’s egg that was announced came with it hard boiled and ice cold from the fridge. HP did not hate it. I think hate is an empty emotion but this could make me change my mind.

So far, so dreadful. But, main courses were better. We both plumped for the Feijoada, a peasant stew of pork, beef and sausage filled out with black beans. Traditionally made by slaves from all the bits, hooves and lips that no one else wanted, this version was a higher end take but not badly made at all. Served with farofa ( fried cassava flour ) to mix in and some decent crisp kale, the dish was filling and well prepared. However, for what is essentially a stew, however well made, £18 a pop is pretty steep. As was £4 fro a side order of Cassava fries which, while hot and crisp were too floury.

Perhaps the best thing about the meal was an £18 bottle of Brazilian cabernet. I know, I know it sounds like the sort of stuff that should be used as a weapon in a bank raid, but it stood up well to the strong flavours of the stew far better than, I suspect, would the over priced poincy woincy offerings that littered the rest of the menu.

Talking of over priced, we could not face dessert, so asked for the bill.

Including our cocktails and service it came to £98. For a meal where the main course was made up of all the bits no one else wanted and all served in just over an hour.

Of course, we were in Knightsbridge where the cost of a meal matters no more than the absence of chin. So, to worry about such things as value for money is dreadfully common. That's us then.

Quite frankly, I would rather have all my pubic hairs waxed off than go for this kind of Brazilian again. Er..................?
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