188-189 Victoria Road,
Tel: 01793 490151.
Open: Tue-Thur 6pm to 11pm, Fri 6pm until late, Sat 11am until late, Sun 11am to 11pm, closed Mon.
RIO is the new Brazilian restaurant, bar and grill at the bottom of Victoria Road, and it deserves to thrive.
Let’s hope the great big exterior signs in Brazil’s national colours continue to entice people to the discreet door at the side of the building.
From there it’s a short flight of stairs to the cosy interior, where the carnival-style music is loud enough to add to the atmosphere without stopping conversation.
There are plenty of good restaurants in this town, but while there’s more diversity than there used to be, we should all welcome a little bit more.
In Brazilian cuisine there’s a big emphasis on marinating meat, creating sauces and garnishes from imaginative choices of ingredients and cooking on open flames.
The restaurant’s selection of starters ranges from chicken wings with chillies and spring onions (£4.95) to pan fried garlic prawns (£6.95) but the next section on the menu is headed ‘Sharing Dishes’, and the Porcao De Linguica Toscana (£6.50) caught our eye because it was described by our very helpful waitress as a Brazilian staple dish.
It consists simply of tangy chunks of sausage, grilled with fried onions, and comes across as the much bigger sibling of the sausage dishes that tend to vanish first during a visit to a tapas bar.
When the time came for main courses, my companion opted for Bife Rolo (£11.95), which is delicious steak marinated in garlic and fresh herbs, and rolled in mortadella sausage.
With it was the restaurant’s signature five-sauce platter, which ranges from tasty and mild to tasty and anything-but-mild.
It came with a choice of sides, and my fellow diner opted for perfectly-prepared rice and brown beans.
I chose Salmao A Moda Da Casa (£11.25), an excellent salmon steak with a tangy but delicate creamy caper sauce, accompanied by rice.
Even with two or three drinks apiece, the bill came in at a little over £44, and we’d definitely return.
One thing we’re especially anxious to do is visit on a Thursday. This is Rio’s Rodizio barbecue evening, with a £15.95 all-you-can-eat deal and half price for children aged under 10.