We were very excited to be invited to try out Viva Brazil after its flamboyant opening a couple of weeks ago. Having recently travelled to Brazil we’d partaken in a fair few churrasco meals. The Mr, as a native, is an expert on such matters. He was intrigued by the opening of Viva in Newcastle, and had been grilling them (no pun intended) on Twitter to find out which cuts of meat they were going to serve as part of the 15 billed, and whether he’d be able to try his beloved Feijoada (Black Bean Stew) there.
We arrived and there was no record of our booking. Normally I keep email confirmations to hand but hadn’t on this occasion. We got seated, but it was a very embarrassing 15 minutes for me. They explained that there’d been some issues with the booking system which, a few days in, can happen with a new restaurant. No harm, no foul.
Having visited for the PR launch we were familiar with the interior (see article here), apart from the salad bar in the corner. This is home to the famous Feijoada, and Raf made a beeline for it after he’d ordered his first Caipirinha of the evening. I stuck to drinking Guaraná, a Brazilian soft drink that reminds me a lot of Iron-Bru. Alongside the stew there were spiced sweet potatoes, an assortment of salads and warm dishes like Carne com Quiabo (Beef with Okra).
We were given a ‘passport’ of sorts, and every time a passador visited our table with a new cut of meat we’d get a stamp. It’s a way of you keeping tabs on what you’ve tried, and for the servers to know what to bring you next. If you find a cut of meat you especially love, which for us was the Picanha, you can request more. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart. You should wear something comfortable as you’re going to eat a lot! Restraint has no place on a visit to Viva Brazil, and even the usually fussy Jnr got into the spirit of things.
The meat is carved at the table, and you can request cuts to be cooked more if necessary. Because I have to eat meat well done they kindly accommodated me, although some of the cuts are far better a little rare. I read a review that was featured in the Evening Chronicle complaining about the way you have to grab the meat with tongs as it is cut. This is an authentic experience and have visited other Brazilian BBQ restaurants in the UK even that serve in exactly the same way. A very bizarre comment to make, and smacks of nit-picking if you ask me.
There’s an Appetizer and Sides menu, which features the likes of Mandioca Frita Caseira (Home-made Cassava Fries) and Rissolis. There was no Pao de Queijo, which we were very surprised by as it had been served at the Launch Event. This is a Brazilian staple, and we were very disappointed by its omission. We ordered the fries as we thought they’d be a welcome addition to the meat feast we were partaking in, but were told they had none available. There was plenty of rice and couscous available on the salad bar, however.
I sat out some of the rounds, like the Chicken Hearts and Lamb, as they’re not to my taste. Raf ploughed through it all; even getting seconds on certain cuts when he could grab the attention of the servers. The green/red card everyone has to request more meat wasn’t quite working in the way it normally does in a Churrascaria, but this may have been down to the inexperience of the staff working with such a ‘system’. The passador serving the Picanha did a fantastic job of carving, and I heard he was there training other staff on how to serve the meat traditionally. Raf said the chicken hearts were the best he’d eaten in the UK – high praise indeed. He’s also a big fan of their cocktails, although the Feijoada didn’t quite live up to his expectations and he remarked it was bland.
Vegetarians are also catered for with skewers of roasted vegetables, halloumi, unlimited salad bar and baguettes for £15.95. Children under 5 eat for free any time in Viva Brazil, and under 14’s are £9.95. It is a good place to bring kids along to try different foods, although we couldn’t get Jnr to try the heart! He managed to find space for a dessert, but was told that he could only have a chocolate pudding as that was all that was available.
There were some disappointments on the evening we visited in terms of menu availability and refreshing the salad bar when the bread/rice had run out, but we chalked them up to the teething problems of a new and popular eatery. Service was slow and, while we weren’t in a rush, we found we had to flag people for drinks and more meat. It wouldn’t deter us from visiting again, as we feel it has great potential. Other diners have had smoother visits then ours (see review here). We’d recommend the experience to anyone who is a fan of BBQ food or trying new dining experiences. Viva Brazil is a welcome addition to the Newcastle food scene and, although it doesn’t quite live up to the churrascarias of Brazil, will certainly help my other half feel less homesick for his homeland.
Thanks for reading,
Many thanks to Viva Brazil for their hospitality.