Ipanema Brazilian Grill
M and I decided to check out Ipanema Brazilian Grill last night. It’s in the old Wolfgang Puck location at the top of Harbor Steps. It was originally scheduled to open last October but actually opened for business three weeks ago.
Pre-reviews were intriguing but I still entered with a bit of trepidation – three weeks isn’t much time to get your act together. We arrived for Happy Hour at about 5:15. Coming up the Harbor Steps I was suddenly drooling – the smell of grilled meats filled the air! Wow! Great marketing tool! :-) The place was nearly empty, which wasn’t surprising for that time of day, let alone for a barely open new venue. We took a place at the bar and proceeded to check out the offerings.
The basic idea is sort of an "all-you-can-eat" barbecue. You pay a flat rate and can choose from any or all of the meats (there are twelve+ options), the mesa de frios (a cold buffet) and some side dishes like fried bananas. There is also a bar menu of small plates – many of them smaller portions of the main menu offerings. During Happy Hour the entire bar menu is half price, there are specials on a couple wines and beers and on the Carioca, a rum and passion fruit juice concoction.
We wanted to try small bites and after perusing the offerings and talking with the helpful, if spacey, bartender we started with oven-baked Chicken Empanadas and Garlic Steak with Fried Banana and Brazilian Salsa. I also ordered a Carioca; M was teetotaling for the night and chose a cranberry and soda.
Our food arrived lickety-split! We started with the empanada. The shell was perfectly crusty and flaky with not a drop of oily matter in sight! The filling was chickeny comfort. The texture of the filling while fluid, was viscous not runny – it would be the perfect street food. If only I was enjoying it while walking somewhere in Brazil! We then dove into the Garlic Steak. This was heavenly beef! The flavoring was perfect – not overwhelming just enhancing. The steak was melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Although there was very little fat on it when you got a little bite of it the flavor was doubly amazing. The Fried Bananas were a great combination of crunchy and sweet – again not oily at all. The Brazilian Salsa was basically a mango, pepper and onion combination that would be successful with just about any type of grilled meat.
After polishing those two plates off, we opted for a third, Garlic Shrimp. While waiting for our order I continued sipping my Carioca which, I believe the bartender said means Brazilian woman. This is a drink he had created. I found it to be very refreshing, although I’m not sure I got the "standard" version. Before ordering I had asked about the sweetness – I’m more of a tart drink person – after a little discussion I decided to order and indicated if it was a little too sweet I’d just ask for some lime to tart it up. It arrived with a squeezed lime wedge in the bottom of the glass, so I’m not sure if that was a preemptive move on the bartender’s part but it was good!
The beautiful garlic shrimp arrived very quickly. There were four medium-large shrimp with grilled citrus. The bartender asked us to let him know about the citrus as they had been experimenting with different things. The shrimp were grilled to perfection – sweet, tasty and tender! The citrus was really an interesting counterpoint. We had chunks of grapefruit and a bitter orange. Really good.
I will definitely be heading back to Ipanema soon! Especially during Happy Hour – our bill, before tip was under $14! And we were actually comfortably full. Even with another bar beverage we would have been way under $20. Now that is a deal!
Ipanema Brazilian Grill
1225 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
Happy Hour: 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm