Viva Brazil Newcastle is a Brazilian restaurant which offers an authentic Brazilian dining experience. A churrasco is a style of cooking born from the nomadic lifestyle of Brazilian cowhands on the ranches. The gauchos had to travel huge distances with their cattle and had few options for preserving food. They would kill one of their cattle, skewer the meat and cook the meat over a wood fire. The slow cooked meat would take on the flavour of the wood and be lovely and tender as it cooked in its juices. The barbecue tradition continues in Brazillian steak houses today where a rodizio consists of meat on skewers being brought to your table accompanied with salad and other dishes. Viva Brazil Churrasco is one of these places.
My trip to Viva Brazil was prompted by the arrival in Newcastle of some of my twitter friends. I had never met these ladies but we have talked on twitter for many years. We immediately recognised each other even though we had only seen photos before. A night out in Newcastle was the perfect opportunity to have a laugh and a chat and we headed to Viva Brazil at 7.30 on a Saturday evening.
Viva Brazil Newcastle is situated on Grey Street in the centre of Newcastle. You need to go downstairs to reach the restaurant in the basement. There was no phone signal or wi-fi but this was no great loss as I was in great company. The interior of Viva Brazil was sleek and shiny with a modern feel. Various walls had street art murals painted on them which which added a Brazilian feel to the place. A visit to the ladies was a surprise, the wall art was most unusual.
After being shown to our table we ordered a drink. There was a large selection of cocktails on the menu including the classic Brazilian caipirinhas. I opted for a non alcoholic copa cabana, a blend of pineapple coconut and lime (£3.95) which was delicious. Our party also tried the virgin strawberry daiquiri, a cocktail I used as the basis for my strawberry daiquiri cupcakes and a bottle of wine. Although the tables were close together you did not feel that you were being overlooked by others. The overall feeling was one of comfort and able to take your time over your meal. In our case we had plenty of time to chat.
Our passador came over to introduce herself and explain the protocol for ordering at Viva Brazil. You pick up a plate at the salad bar when ready and choose what you want. On your return to the table different cuts of meat are brought to you at regular intervals. The full rodizio consists of fifteen cuts of meat. These are prepared on skewers on a massive charcoal rotisserie. The passador brings the skewers of meat to the table and slices a bit off for you. You grab the meat with the tongs provided and place it on your plate.
A piece of paper on the table allows you to keep track of the meats you have tried. Whenever you try a meat the paper is stamped with a cross. If you particularly like one type of meat you can request it again. Each table also has a card with red on one side and green on the other. You turn this to green for please bring more meat and red for stop for now, I need to recover.
The salad bar contains a range of salad options as well as hot dishes and stews. Among the hot dishes were classic Feijoada, a rich stew of simmered black beans and pork, garlic mash, banana fritters, rice and couscous. There was also a range of different salads and vegetables to choose from, it was too easy to fill your plate. Each of the dishes were labelled so you knew what they were.
A visit to Viva Brazil is all about the meat. The passador brings it sizzling hot to your table on a skewer and slices it while you watch. If you prefer your beef well done you just need to ask and they will sort this out. There are lots of different types of meat, beef, pork, lamb, chicken and many more.
The beef comes in a range of cuts and flavours, the pichana was flavourful and tasty and the alcatra melted in the mouth. Both of these cuts are seasoned with salt, the taste comes from the barbecue which gives it an incredible flavour. There was more than just beef however, the smoked gammon was a lovely surprise melting in the mouth and sweet in flavour. The Pescoco de Porco – Pork with Parmesan was perhaps a little salty. The Brazilian sausages were a highlight soft and juicy with a spicy seasoning. More unexpected were the chicken hearts which have a lovely flavour, although are a little chewy. The meal ended with barbecued pineapple cooked with sugar and cinnamon which was a simple and perfect dessert. There is a dessert menu if you fancy something sweet. We were too stuffed to eat more by this point.
A full rodizio with the fifteen meats costs £25 a person. It is cheaper at lunchtime and you can also opt for a Rodizo Especial with seven cuts of meat for £15.95. If you are not a meat lover then there are vegetarian and seafood options, but Viva Brazil is really a place for committed carnivores. Do wear clothes that will stretch, you will go out feeling full. If you want a new dining experience or simply love a good barbecue Viva Brazil Newcastle is well worth a visit. It is a great addition to the range of restaurants in Newcastle. We really enjoyed our night and never felt rushed. It was good to finally meet some friends in real life instead of behind a computer screen.
Have you ever been to Viva Brazil? What did you think?