Lapa Brazilian Barbecue, Subiaco
Named after a famous neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, Lapa restaurant in Subiaco is a churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse. Here, carnivores can indulge in an all-you-can-eat celebration of meat with the rodizio Endless Feast (AU$49 per person), an epic dining experience which features sixteen cuts of meat presented and carved at your table by rather attractive Brazilian waiters.
Vegetarians, look away. Now.
Jac and I and my friend Mandy from Singapore have a Tuesday night dinner reservation at Lapa. We've been counting down the days to our Endless Feast.
After placing our order, we're each given a coaster. One side is green ("Yes, please"); the other is red ("No, thank you"). Leave your coaster green side up and the passadores (meat waiters) will keep visiting and offering you meat. Turn your coaster over to red if you've had enough or just need a break. Glutton or wimp, no one will judge you.
To get us started, bread balls stuffed with chewy cheese. Their texture is more like mochi (Japanese glutinous rice flour cake) than bread, which I like but Jac doesn't. We're holding back, saving precious tummy space as we know there's much more to come.
Next, the side dishes are delivered to our table: garden salad, potato salad and condiments - tomato salsa, chimichurri sauce, hot gravy and farofa - roasted cassava flour and breadcrumbs with bacon. Our waiter smiles and tells us to let her know if we want more of anything. Other side dishes including rice, steamed veggies, chips and black beans are also available upon request.
And so the feast begins. Meat, meat, meat and more meat, hot and succulent, fresh off the grill, proudly presented on skewers and balanced on a paddle then sliced at our table by the smiling passadores wielding long knives.
After the first bombardment in which we say yes to just about everything, we're left with half a dozen different meat cuts on our plates. It's not long before the next wave of meat appears. We sample beef rump, scotch fillet, Brazilian pork sausages (extremely meaty), pork belly rib (one of my favourites), pork scotch fillet, lamb rump, chicken wings (dangerously moreish), chicken parmesan and chicken hearts (a bit rubbery). Our plate of bones and discarded bits is removed and replaced with an empty one multiple times throughout the meal. Long-time readers know all about my mum's penchant for asking if she can suck our bones - she'd have a fine time at this restaurant.
The costela, or beef rib (not to be mistaken for bananinha, or beef rib fingers) makes a grand entrance, pushed around the restaurant on a trolley like meat royalty and carved table-side.
The beef rib is charred on the outside and resembles a burnt block of wood, but as it's sliced and the meat falls away you can see how flavoursome the layers of fat and flesh will be. This is my favourite meat of the night along with the pork belly rib. Jac and I go two rounds of it.
The meat is magnificent, but my favourite item of the endless feast is the pineapple with cinnamon. The whole fruit has been peeled, skewered and cooked whole in the rodizio, rotating next to the meat. The pineapple is caramelised on the outside and drips with juice as it's sliced at our table. We don't hesitate to have two rounds. Bugger the slices, just leave the whole pineapple!
There's a clear screen separating the bar and the kitchen where the meat and pineapples glisten and get charry as they turn in the rodizio (rotisserie). If you're feeling lazy as well as greedy, just sit back in your chair and watch the live feed of the barbecue on flatscreen televisions wall-mounted in the dining room. That's how I know (and why I start squirming with excitement) when the pineapples are coming our way.
The chefs in the kitchen are just as friendly as the meat waiters out in the dining room and we exchange grins. I most confess my smiles are also for the meat.
Just as Jac reluctantly flips her coaster to red, a waiter walks by with a dish of cheese lasagne. It looks too good to resist and Jac quickly flips her coaster back green as she and Mandy share a small portion, but we decline the spaghetti that's also doing the rounds.
The meat has defeated us but there's just enough room for dessert, which we order to share. First, banana flambada com sorvete (flambé banana with vanilla ice cream, AU$12).
Jac chooses the mousse de maracuja (passionfruit mouse, AU$12), which is served sprinkled with grated chocolate. The buttery flambé banana and creamy passionfruit mousse (complete with crunchy pips) are the perfect end to our meaty meal.
Endless Feast is like Brazilian barbecue dim sum. The delicious anticipation of what's coming next is a major part of the fun. The button-popping potential is probably greater than dim sum as you pay a fixed price for all the meat you can handle, and while your coaster is green side up, the gorgeous passadores, both male and female, will keep on coming. The meat portions are small so you can try everything if you wish - but don't be shy to ask for more of anything. Come early and make sure you wearing those eating pants.
Not all the meat cuts were to our liking - I found the lamb and beef rib fingers a little chewy - but we had a great time at Lapa. The trolley beef rib was outstanding and I've been dreaming ever since of hot pineapple seasoned with cinnamon, caramelised and dripping with juice.
Lapa Brazilian Barbecue
375 Hay Street (Subiaco Mews)
Subiaco WA 6008
Telephone: (08) 9381 1323
Open for lunch Thursday to Sunday
Dinner 7 nights
A la carte menu is available.
Endless feast is AU$49 per person. On Sundays the endless feast is AU$65 and features feijoada, the traditional Brazilian weekend meat stew cooked with smoked beef and pork, sausage, bacon and black beans.
For an Argentinean barbecue dining experience - see my post on Porteño in Surry Hills, Sydney.