Friday, May 27, 2011

Humidor Churrascaria at Graycliff

Humidor Churrascaria 

The Churrascaria is a Brazilian ‘Rodizio’ steak house  adjacent to the historic Graycliff hotel. It had been on mine and the Juggernaut’s list of places to investigate for a while, but for one reason or another, we had never quite made it there. It is not widely regarded as one of the dining hotspots in Nassau and therefore it was a bit of a mystery. Aware that there would be an unlimited amount of meat on offer,  a friend had advised me that the key to the barbeque meat fest was to pace yourself, as the best cuts come to those who wait. J and I were both keen to embark upon this feat of carnivorous endurance. I reminisced fondly of Sunday lunches when Dad would typically barbeque half a cow for our family of five. We asked a couple of virgin Churrascaria diners to join us for the  occasion.
We entered through an intriguing gateway cut into the rocks, which led up some steps to the restaurant.  Strangely devoid of diners when we walked in just after eight, the empty room was a slightly worrying sign. The room was full of dark wooden furniture, tribal masks and granny fabrics. A cheery waiter welcomed us with the offer of some caipirinhas. Why not indeed. Several sips of this unbelievably strong concoction and I was floating down the Amazon.

After we had polished off our drinks, we were led, half cut, to the dining area. There were a couple of other tables dining in the slightly depressing room, which had a funereal air  about it with it’s cold lighting and fake wall hung flowers. Salsa music lent a buoyant veneer to the austere surroundings. There was no menu. The waiter explained that we would be brought a series of grilled meats until we were satisfied and to signal when we’d had enough. It was quite refreshing not to have to make a decision. We were encouraged to help ourselves to the salad bar before the meat procession could commence. We ordered some Argentinian malbec .The wine glasses were enormous and balloon like, which was a good touch, as our wine was fairly modest. The table was laid with cutlery that meant business; weighty steak knives and tongs. The exuberant salad bar looked like  a photoshoot from an eighties cruise ship. The buffet had an island with a canopy on it in the centre and included labelled platters of devilled eggs, fanned out displays of cold meats and prawns, hearts of palm, bean salads, smoked salmon and every salad imaginable really. There were scallop edged salad servers and garnishes at every opportunity. Vegetarians were well catered for here. We all took a heaped plate back to our table.
The salads were actually rather delicious. The boys were worried about filling up on anything other than meat. The first delivery was some beef brisket on a skewer. It was sliced beside each person to pluck with their little tongs. Tasty, well seasoned and pink in the middle. So far so good. The next round was over faster than you could say ‘Rio de Janeiro’. It was just a torrent of meat coming at us thick and fast. Chicken wrapped in bacon, pork loin, sausages and  leg of lamb. Proper horseradish sauce and mustards were brought over at our request, as was mint jelly. Bright green and radioactive looking, I decided to give this a miss At one point we were offered some respite, some grilled pineapple to cleanse the palate, I was initially dismissive but it really did work wonders to refresh us and open up the stomach for further expansion. Filet mignon and Kobe beef were the stars of the show. My mouth is watering just remembering these fabulous hunks of beef. My girlfriend and I finally signalled that we’d had enough .The Juggernaut, (whose salad plate was almost untouched )and his wing man beckoned the waiter over for further helpings of Filet Mignon. We were very happy campers.

By the time we’d finished eating were nearing the end, we were the only table left in the restaurant. I wondered why more people weren’t eating here. Granted, it isn’t the most beautiful and fashionable restaurant in Nassau by any means. This place is crying out for a makeover. However, this was some of the best meat I’ve had on the island. The service was attentive. I asked for a doggy bag of scraps and was presents with a huge lamb bone parcel, packed with little chunks of unwanted meat. My potcake would feast on this for days. We asked for our bill, which came in $159.80 for food for four, plus $158 for drinks. All you can eat offers are usually something I stay well away from but this was great food at a reasonable price. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Olives Meze and Grill Cable beach shops

I went to Olives for lunch with my girlfriend from New York, who gets as excited about food as I do. We were both ravenous and eager to road test the sister restaurant to the downtown branch. It doesn't look like much from the outside but stepping inside is a whole different story.Cavernous and cosy, with an uplit stone relief wall and dark banquette seating, the interior has a sort of trendy Mediterranean taverna feel. We were met with a busy lunchtime service. Locals gossiped and grazed contentedly on Greek delights. Funky lounge music played in the background. Lots of staff buzzed about, ensuring that service ran smoothly. Our waiter was something of a ladies man, buttering us up with small talk and offers of wine. We had various male servers coming at us from all angles, which is not something that usually happens when I’m with my husband.
The owner brought over some complimentary homemade bread, baked by his wife. Soft, fluffy focaccia with caramelised onion embedded in it. Utterly divine.
The menu is very similar to that of the downtown branch, with it’s highly lauded gyros and other delicious Mediterranean specialities. There was a blackboard with specials on, a selection of meze and a list of tempting homemade burgers. The grilled octopus made my eyes light up when I spotted it on the menu. If it was anything like the dish I had at the Greek festival, we were in for a royal treat. Regrettably the kitchen had run out. There were some brilliantly named dishes, like Flaming Saganiki and Louganico. We chose to share a few of the meze starters; Olives Tuna Tataki ($11.50), Calamari ($9.95), Spanakopita $5.95 and a Greek salad $10.95. We had to restrain ourselves to not over-order. Extra napkins were brought over in anticipation of the serious eating we were about to embark upon.
After a short wait, a barrage of gleaming square plates arrive at our table, looking very promising. There was a generous portion of crispy calamari, a plate of mouth watering sliced rare tuna and the Spanakopita; a pastry parcel containing spinach and feta. We dived in with our forks amid squeals of delight. ‘Good food makes me happy’ exclaimed my companion. I couldn’t agree more. Bad food, incidentally, makes me grumpy. The tuna was a bit on the dry side and really benefited from being smothered in the lemon balsamic dressing, which was superb. The squid was lovely and moist, not at all rubbery, with a delicate batter and a tasty marinara sauce. Great value too given the size of the portion we got. The Greek salad was large and well dressed. The Spanakopita was rich, salted and tasty but ultimately too dense, due to the weight of the pastry. It didn’t have the flakiness of filo, more closely resembling pie crust. Overall, though, we were two happy punters.
A complimentary lime and ginger square was brought over the instant we had finished it all. I rounded it all off with a decent espresso.I was really impressed with the service, they had gone the extra mile to make a good impression, whilst maintaining a very relaxed, easy going approach. The prices are very competitive. The addition of Olives will be a real boost to the Cable beach shops. I get the feeling it will become a regular nightime hangout for me. Dinner service is due to start in a couple of weeks, yipee.