Upon finding that I was in Sao Paulo, my friend who worked here as a management consultant for 6 months recommended that I “must try Figueira Rubaiyat” and that I must have the “feijoada” (buffet).
I arrive to find a spacious but cute restaurant under the branches of a massive old fig tree. I liked that they preserved nature and built the restaurant around the giant centrepiece. Mist sprayed from the roof and I felt like we were being irrigated.
Being seated towards the side wall, I perused the menu to find only one vegetarian dish other than salad and sides. The feijoada, I was told, was only on Saturdays.
“I am vegetarian, is this the only dish you have?” I asked in my improvised Portuguese, which is completely incorrect, but that people seem to understand.
The first waiter recommended some seafood dishes. The second one was more competent but was not able to bring himself to lie when I asked if the ricotta and buffalo mozzarella crepes were nice. Instead he called over his manager to tell me they were delicious.
In the meantime I tried ordering a Spanish Malbec (to be told it was not available and to be given a taste of another red which seemed to have been stored badly). Not liking that one, my second choice was also not available. In the end, it was an Argentinian red served to me in a generous glass.
As I waited for my crepes to arrive, I noted that nearly all the diners were male and all of them wearing shirts. There were only 14 women in the whole restaurant of about 150 people. The table next to me had PowerPoint print outs sitting proudly on their wine stand. Business men from all of the world arrived, chatting in different languages.
I felt like I was getting an insight into the ex-pat life of big business. All were as relaxed as they could be in the company of colleagues and it was as if all the hard work had made them ugly and unhappy. I could now see why my friend would have suggested this place, hectic with long hours at work, it would have been one of the few places he would have come to entertain clients.
The crepes were done like cannelloni. The concept was very similar to the spinach and ricotta crepes that my friend’s mum had made for me at the fazenda, but instead of white sauce, these were done with a tomato base.
They smelt delicious and whilst the flavours were pleasant, I needed bread to accompany them, and I could not help but feeling slightly ill afterwards at the thought of having just eaten what was largely a whole dish of cheese for dinner.
At this point my verdict on the restaurant was: corporate atmosphere and expensive.
Dessert. This was when the party got started. There are several dessert dishes on the menu but I opted for the dessert buffet (available even when it is not Saturday).
Looks fairly impressive doesn't it? Whilst taking this photo, the man next to me suggested I lie on the table so he could take of photo of me with the dessert. Yes... I am still in Brazil.
I tried the sweet persimmon (I never realised how much I liked this fruit), a toffee walnut cake, a mille feuille with dulce de leche and meringue on top, a cup of rich and creamy passion fruit curd, and baked figs. All were very tasty, except for the walnut cake which was slightly bitter with the walnut skins. The mille feuille pastry was a bit soggy too.
I hate to say it, but while the food maybe good, this place cannot fully be appreciated by vegetarians. The crepe dish was pleasant but it is something I could easily make at home (and maybe I will if I am ever in the mood for cannelloni but am missing pasta sheets). Whilst the desserts were plentiful and mostly well-made, this restaurant focuses, sadly, on beef.
Rua Haddock Lobo, 1738
Jardim Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil
(11) 3087 1399