Capim Santo, a stunning culinary effort founded in the Northern Brazilian state of Bahia, at the center of the tranquil town of Trancoso, has spread its kitchen and culinary prowess to Rio – all headed by Morena, the daughter of the original founder. But, Morena has added her own touch – a focus on a healthy kitchen using French technique with Brazilian ingredients. Located inside a luxury shopping venue, the Village Mall, in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood – Capim Santo has quickly become my favorite place to dine in Rio de Janeiro.
The space is modern and chic, yet feels as if you’re sitting in a rainforest of sorts – greenery spilling-out of every corner. Wooden tables with white china and glassware make a simple backdrop to allow the cooking to be the star of the show. And, is it ever. I was seated immediately and brought-in to the fold and ethos that makes this place special – a healthy mindset and premium Brazilian ingredients. A starter of Pão de Capim Santo, lemongrass scented parsnip bread, was heavenly. A cocktail menu with numerous fresh caipirinhas was delivered. I sampled the original, cashew and mango – all delicious.
Spoons of fresh ceviche arrived, with a flavor so intense, you had to take a moment to sit with the lingering taste on your tongue.
Fantastic soups were accompanied by tapioca doughnut sticks with cream, Roasted duck rolls with “pitanga” (surinam cherry) and Jambu (Amazon toothache plant) and Pupunha’s palm heart croquette served with rangpur lime sauce.
My favorite were the Cassava balls stuffed with “Serra da Canastra” cheese. Heaven.
Fish, coconut and pupunha’s palm heart ceviche served in a coconut was a clear winner.
I fell in love with Capim Santo, in a way I cannot describe. It truly helped to redefine Brazilian cooking in my eyes – and made me believe there is much to be explored in the country in terms of food. I cannot wait to return.