“ Address: 118-124 Deansgate / King Street West / Manchester / M3 2GQ / England / Tel: +44 0161 839 2525 „
I should admit from the beginning that I'm vegetarian (ok, pescatarian), so this place was never going to be for me. However, I took my partner - who most certainly does like meat - for his birthday and this review is based on that, as well as drinks in the bar.
For whatever reason, bookings can't be made online for Friday and Saturday nights. Be aware that you need to ring the restaurant for these evenings. The same goes for the Northern Quarter restaurant.
So we went on a Saturday night. The first thing we noticed was a band in the bar on the ground floor. That gave the place a nice vibe, but unfortunately the noise followed us up the stairs to the restaurant section. Then, because we were seated by the stairs, it continued for the whole evening. It was a shame that the sound couldn't be isolated better, because it was far to loud to concentrate on talking.
The place was noisy in general, and I think it's really better suited to large parties. There were a few hens in that night, so that gives an idea of the atmosphere, although there were some other couples.
The menu wasn't particularly well written. Firstly, it didn't quite tally with what was on the website (price have risen slightly) and it wasn't clear on vegetarian options. It almost looked like I'd have to pay the £25 for the meat and buffet along with my boyfriend until I asked. I then got a special vegetarian (halal on the reverse) disc so that waiters coming around with the meat would know not to serve me.
My boyfriend got the regular green/red disk to indicate whether he wanted more meat or not when servers came around with skewers of meat - and pineapple! This is the great novelty of Bem Brasil, but the quality varied from very good (the steaks) to pork that my partner ended up leaving on his plate. There were some periods when he thought they'd stopped serving, but then something else would wind its way around.
The servers were all pleasant and patient, although it was so loud that one poor waitress kept mishearing my drinks order.
The buffet was not so good. I paid £12.50 for eating veggies off the buffet, but unfortunately I found the selection to be worse than you'd find in Brazil itself, not a very veggie-friendly country. Where were the beans? I ended up eating rice, 'Brazilian' polenta and cabbage. I wasn't too impressed. Signs indicated there were options like pasta salad that weren't put out that evening.
You can choose to pay £10 extra whatever buffet option you've chosen to have fish and shellfish. I didn't really want to pay this as I thought the buffet would be enough (wrong), but I was glad I didn't as the rest of the meal wasn't of a particularly wonderful standard.
My main feeling was that Bem Brasil as a restaurant is more about the party atmosphere than the culinary experience.
The rodizio method of continual service extends to the drinks too, with a caipirinha maker touring the tables with a cart to stir up cocktails. On a busy night the cart got in the way rather, but people using it seemed impressed.
Drinks? I'd had cocktails in the bar previously, and I definitely rate the bar staff on a less frenetic night. On this occasion, I wasn't so pleased with my cocktail. When it's quieter the bar is really good: attentive, charming service and superb cocktails and bar snacks. I've really enjoyed meeting friends there over a drink.
I wouldn't hurry back to Bem Brasil for food, and I'd probably give the whole place a wide berth on busy evenings unless I was with a big group. If you want a fun night out with friends and you are more into entertainment and quantity than high-quality food, I can recommend eating here. If you want a great drink and chat, then it has to be a less popular evening. I'll certainly be returning for cocktails, just not on Friday or Saturday.
On Saturday night my boyfriend and I met up with some of this friends for a night out in our beloved Manchester. The restaurant had been booked for us and we were excited having eaten in several churrascaria's during our trip to Brazil some years ago. It's an idea that I've been waiting to take off here when we have so many different cuisines its not surprising that the Brazilian experience would appear somewhere.
A churrascaria is essentially a meat feast. Within Bem Brazil Deansgate there is a 5m grill and as you enter you can see the masses of meat on a rotisserie, the smell is divine and is basically a glorified barbeque. On your table each person has a disc, one side is red and one side is green. Coming to each table are servers each with a skewer containing a meat, if your disc is on green they will stop at your table and offer you the meat they have, if its on red they know you're already full to bursting. The server will cut off a good sliver of the meat and using little tongs that are provided for each person you pick off the slither from the skewer. This creates a decent element of theatre and takes it up a notch from your standard meal. The restaurant is all you can eat so you can literally have every single cut of meat you want.
The menu is a set price of £22.50, this includes 15 cuts of meat and an extensive buffet of cold and hot sides. The sides included salads, traditional Brazilian polenta, potatoes, rice, olives, bread, cabbage, peppers and other bits and pieces. I was careful to not overload my plate as had a good idea how much meat would be in store for us, some of the table went up for more sides half way through and there was no problem with this.
The side dishes were well presented, all had serving spoons and were well stocked. The buffet also stood a good way back from the tables so you didn't feel like you were being watched by the other diners.
Heading back to our table the first skewer arrived of chicken wrapped in bacon, seemingly innocuous the first mouthful revealed this to be tasty and extremely tender. The effect of the spit means the natural juices are retained and you have the lovely smokiness from the grill. Next up was rump, sirloin and skirt beef, all cooked medium rare, I like my steak rare so waited until he had got to the centre of the skewer. Again all the cuts were melt in your mouth and the portions generous (I only managed one round of all the meats but my boyfriend had seconds of the rump and sirloin). This was followed by a lamb shank which I didn't try but was receiving much acclaim. Next came a ham, my favourite meat, which was soft, salty and perfectly cooked. Next up was a pork chop and then pork belly. At this point I admitted defeat! For my £22.50 I was so full that it was nearly a full 24 hours before I managed another meal!
The quality of the food was excellent and you certainly felt like you got your monies worth. One of the other diners had been on a previous occasion and noted that chicken hearts and chicken breast had not been offered, I imagine this was due to the early dining time but I certainly didn't feel like I had missed out. Also you do not have any say over how your meat is cooked but common sense prevails, if you like it a little better done then take from the edge, rare then wait for the middle. If you like it cremated this is probably not the place for you.
With it being a Saturday night on the town we sampled quite a large section of the menu. A good range of beers were on offer and cost around £3 per bottle. The ladies shared a jug of very tasty Sangria, not traditional Brazilian fare but the ideal thirst quencher to accompany the meat mountain. The Sangria was £15 per jug and it was a substantial jug which went round three of us three times. Wine was a little pricey at around £4.50 a glass but the real winner for us was the cocktails. Whilst we were in Brazil my boyfriend formed a love affair with Caprinhia made from cachaha which is the Brazilian liquer made from sugar cane. This was never to my taste but Bem Brazil have a mobile Caprinhia table that comes round and you have this limey and alcoholic connoction made at your table. Again this added to the theatre element and most of the table bar myself enjoyed a few for around £4.50 a glass. I opted for the slightly pricey Mojito which cost £6.50 but was worth every penny served in a giant tall glass with not scrimping on the rum.
A good range of soft drinks were also available and a jug of water was provided free on request.
**The atmosphere and service**
I had not really expected much from this restaurant in terms of décor and ambiance. In Brazil churrascaria's are everywhere so certainly don't have the feeling of being fancy dining options however the second we stepped through the door I was impressed. The sort and earthy lighting were accompanied by big photos of the brazilain landscape and the bar area on the ground floor was separated by a waterfall, contained in glass and changing colour. We were immediately greeted and taken upstairs.
The most noticeable thing was the music volume, at times and maybe Im getting old, it was simply too loud. Had we been there for a romantic evening I don't think we would have enjoyed it and it became almost impossible to talk to the other end of the table. I appreciate they are trying to contribute to a lively atmosphere but that can also be achieved at a slightly lower decimal.
The majority of the staff we met were great but our server who's only job was to collect the drinks from the bar and bring them to us was pretty dire. First there was the astonished look when we asked for three glasses with our sangria "only three?" I don't expect to be judged when I am paying good money, there was no humour in the comment and we all thought it was inappropriate. Then there was the 20 minute wait and two reminders we had to give before our last few drinks arrived at the end of the meal. No apology was made and they appeared on our bill with no discount had I not been with friends I would have said something.
Other than that it was very pleasant and a nice surprise.
There are two Bem Brazil's in Manchester one in the Northern quarter and one in Deansgate. We ate in the Deansgate restaurant which, for those of you who are familiar, was right opposite House of Fraser on King Street West Manchester. We walked from Deansgate station which took about ten minutes and meant we got to experience the awesome Hilton hotel in all its glory from below. The restaurant was easy to spot as it had flaming outdoor heaters. The top floor is dedicated to the restaurant and the lower floor to a spacious and popular bar.
Having eaten in churrascaria's in Brazil I can honestly say this did not disappoint and completely lived up to the relaxed nature of Brazilian eating. It works for a big social occasion as you all have the option to get involved and pick what bits you would like to eat. Needless to say if the frequent mention of meat hasn't already been a good enough indicator this is not a place for the humble vegetarian although you are able to just eat the buffet for £12.50 I cant help think this would be a little boring and for the ethical vegetarian there cannot be much worse than seeing an entire joint of meat being carved in front of your face!
Apart from the service which I hope was just an off day I will back here in a shot! The combination of service and music volume does mean they lose a star but is still recommended.
You can book online.