Boteco: Viva la Brazil

In Boteco, Bengaluru finally has its own authentic Brazilian restaurant.

A boteco is to Brazil what a bodega is to Spain. A traditional, neighbourhood bar found in street corners, it typically has a casual, relaxed vibe, making it a great place for drinks and conversation. But what was the idea behind launching India’s first authentic Brazilian restaurant and bar?

The tall arches dominating the interiors at boteco draw inspiration from the arches of the mid-18th century arcos da lapa or carioca aqueduct in rio and form a recurrent theme. Image: shamanth patil.
The tall arches dominating the interiors at Boteco draw inspiration from the arches of the mid-18th century Arcos da Lapa or Carioca Aqueduct in Rio and form a recurrent theme through the Brazilian restaurant. Image: Shamanth Patil.

Boteco – Restaurante Brasileiro is the brainchild of Praveesh Govindan. While working as a mechanical engineer with Coca-Cola in Atlanta, his frequent travels to Brazil fanned his love for Brazilian cuisine and his childhood dream to open a restaurant. With no one focusing on Brazilian cuisine at the time, he decided to team up with Partner & Executive Chef Guto Souza. Souza had 30 years of restaurant experience in Rio and around the world, and was helming Goa with the Flow by Baga Creek back then. In 2016, Praveesh gave up his job and opened Boteco in Pune. Despite scepticism, the restaurant did really well, attracting a legion of carnivores, and prompted the duo to open Boteco at BKC Mumbai the following year. Emboldened by the response, they have just opened their doors in Bengaluru where the old Permit Room used to be. These were big shoes to fill but Boteco does it with the ease of a Brazilian dribbling a football.

The interiors of boteco have been designed by bengaluru-based architect george attokaran of atto atelier. Image: shamarth patil.
The interiors of Boteco have been designed by Bengaluru-based architect George Attokaran of Atto Atelier. Image: Shamarth Patil.

An absolute standout at the Garuda Mall intersection with its gigantic vibrant 60 ft x 20 ft mosaic mural exterior, Bengaluru’s Boteco is a 100-seater joint spread across two floors, and a celebration of all things Brazil. Inspired by the local watering holes of Brazil, the restaurant was designed by Bengaluru-based architect George Attokaran of Atto Atelier. The tall arches dominating the interiors draw inspiration from the arches of the mid-18th century Arcos da Lapa or Carioca Aqueduct in Rio and form a recurrent theme. The wavy mosaic floor reflects the signature lively sidewalks of Copacabana, designed by famous landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx who introduced modernist landscape architecture to Brazil. The ceramic tile patterns on the floor and walls are typical of Brazil too, with a central double-height mural, private cosy nooks and a black and white photo wall, dedicated to the luminaries of Brazil.

Each arched niche highlights a visual ode to Brazilian cultural icons like bossa nova, the toucan, the carnival, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Brazilian flag. Amazonian forest-inspired wallpaper, handmade cane lights and broad-leafed plants in jute planters lend a lush tropical flavour. The décor has an arty vibe that captures the essence of Brazil in little stories. A writer’s desk with old books, a typewriter and softboard pinned with postcards, notes and art give a nod to Brazil as a haven for artists and writers. The whole place has been completely revamped and visually links the partially open upper level to the ground floor. Wooden planters, the only relic from its earlier avatar as a pub, still stand as a screen in the smoking zone.  

At boteco, drinks range from the classic caipirinha (left) to the cha-preto (right), a communal drink for six. Images: vinayak grover.
At Boteco, drinks range from the classic Caipirinha (left) to the Cha-Preto (right), a communal drink for six. Images: Vinayak Grover.

Though Brazil is the world’s third-largest market for beer (and they love their chilled cerveja/beer), there’s plenty of imported cachaça going around. Brazil’s national liquor is a spicy, sweet rum distilled from fermented sugarcane juice. Try out signature cocktails like the Brazilian national drink Caipirinha, a cocktail made with cachaça, lime and sugar or Summer Punch with cachaça, sugarcane juice, lime, pickle brine and butterfly pea tea or Cha-Preto, a communal drink for six that embodies Brazil’s collective spirit of friendship. Fig-ure Me Out is a spicy whisky-based, fig-flavoured cocktail while the Popcorn Gin & Tonic is laced with cold brew and caramelised popcorn.

Though Peruvian and Andean cuisine has been bandied about in recent times, Brazilian cuisine is a relatively unknown entity. Yet, Brazil’s food culture is brisk and diverse, influenced by various global cuisines from around the world including Europe, Africa and Asia. It’s an eclectic mix of Portuguese, Italian, Angolan, Spanish, Arab and Japanese flavours, reflecting the country’s immigrant populations. Brazil has distinct regional cuisines — Minas Gerais bears a strong Portuguese influence, with pork being the meat of choice while Bahia has a touch of Africa. Cassava or tapioca, a contribution of indigenous Brazilians, is one of the most versatile ingredients — boiled, fried into farofa (chips) and used as a base for fish stews and cakes. With a 7,000-km coastline fringing the Atlantic Ocean, seafood plays a key role with peixe (fish), camarão (prawns) and siri (crab). The Seafood Platterat Botecoheaveswith grilled fish, prawns, salmon sushi rolls, crab cakes, grilled calamari and crabstick salad.

Brazil's classic pao de queijo or cheese bread at boteco bengaluru. Image: vinayak grover.
Brazil’s classic Pao de Queijo or cheese bread at Boteco Bengaluru. Image: Vinayak Grover.

Boteco’s menu has all the classics one expects of a Brazilian restaurant. Feijoada, a hearty ‘spare part’ stew of black beans, sausages and various cuts of pork (hoof, tail, snout) was originally created by African slaves and went on to become Brazil’s national dish. The slow-cooked meal is usually served at Saturday lunch and paired with sautéed collard greens, pork rinds, orange slices and rice. Brazilians love fritters and Coxinhais a popular street food of a savoury dough with lightly spiced chicken golden fried to perfection, almost like an Indian samosa.

Our evening began with Tira Gosto (bar snacks). The classic Pão de Queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread was made with tapioca flour and cheese sourced from Chris Zandee, a Dutchman making cheese in Kashmir. It’s gluten-free and comes with various toppings and we tried a version with pork sausage prepared like a slider! Brazilian cuisine is meat heavy and our hosts Praveesh and his wife Pooja confided, “We’ve been responsible for converting a lot of vegetarians into meat eaters.” Chef Guto too makes no bones about it. Once a hapless diner cried, “I’m vegetarian! What do you suggest?” and Guto sardonically replied “A taxi!” The 6’3” chef is loud with a sharp tongue brandishing an irreverent brand of zany humour. He often introduces Mario, the main Brazilian steward, as his son, before adding his wicked punchline “But he was born at night!”

Brazilian food is dominated by meat, as can be seen in boteco's mega meat platter (left) and the seafood offerings (right), which are also a nod to brazil's extensive coastline. Image: vinayak grover.
Brazilian food is dominated by meat, as can be seen in Boteco’s Mega Meat Platter (left) and the seafood offerings (right), which are also a nod to Brazil’s extensive coastline. Images: Vinayak Grover.

Boteco has an extensive menu of authentic and reimagined dishes with Chef Guto’s creative interpretation of a variety of influences from his travels and culinary experiments besides an interplay of flavours and use of local ingredients. So, besides beef, there’s a delicate beet carpaccio too! The Entradas (Small Plates) are extensive and we sampled the Prawn Croquettes with bechamel and red spicy sauce. Escondidinho sounded like a stolid Brazilian defender, but we discovered it was homemade dried buff meat topped with mascarpone, Parmesan and spiced pumpkin cream. Casquinha De Siri was delicious crabmeat sautéed with coconut milk, palm oil, tomatoes and paprika, topped with cheese, set appetisingly in a scallop shell.

Contrary to what you may think, there are enough options for vegetarians at boteco. Image: vinayak grover.
Contrary to what you may think, there are enough options for vegetarians at Boteco. Image: Vinayak Grover.

The Principais (Mains) are divided into vegetarian, meat and seafood. Brazilian food is community based and the Mega Meat Grill Platter is perfect for large groups. Carne Na Pedra features thin slices of steak cooked at the table on a hot stone and served with fries. The star of the kitchen is the grills section with a six-feet-long, custom-built charcoal grill. Boteco has its own Brazilian-style barbeque Churrasqueira that originated in the south of Brazil. Whether you choose from Tenderloin Steak, Belgian Pork Steak, New Zealand Lamb Picanha or a Mixed Grill, it is served with an assortment of dips and sides. “Think of it as a non-veg Brazilian thali,” joked Praveesh. We dug into Boteco’s special grilled meatloaf stuffed with bacon and cheese, barely having space for Sobremesas (Desserts). The Portuguese introduced their love for sweets and baking to Brazil and we succumbed to sinful cheesecake and Quindim, a popular Brazilian baked custard with fresh coconut. Not even Christ the Redeemer could save our souls.

Boteco – Restaurante Brasileiro, Ram Kunj, 16/3, Magrath Rd (Opposite Garuda Mall), Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru – 560025
Tel: +91-87920 45444, 080-49913534
Timings: 12 noon to 1 am
Meal for two:Rs 2,500 + taxes with alcohol

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