Sao Paulo may well be the culinary hotspot of Brazil with fabulous world famous restaurants such as D.O.M. or Mani but eating out in Rio de Janeiro can be just as good and for those looking for an exclusive dining experience look no further than the Chef’s Table at the Copacabana Palace Hotel.
The Copacabana Palace is the most famous hotel in South America and has three excellent restaurants which are also destinations in themselves. Overlooking the swimming pool the Pérgula Restaurant offers first class Brazilian and international cuisine in a refined yet relaxed atmosphere whilst the fine Asian food at Mee is the creation of legendary chef Ken Hom where you can discover the most sophisticated pan-Asian cuisine in Rio.
The hotel’s most famous restaurant though is the Cipriani Restaurant which offers classical Italian dishes and it is here that you can have a truly exclusive dining experience, perfect for those looking for that something special whilst on holiday in Rio, a seat at the Chef’s Table.
The Chef’s Table is located inside the kitchen of the Cipriani restaurant in a small booth directly in front of the serving shelves. The booth can be booked for up to 6 people and we were lucky enough to have it your ourselves for the evening a few months ago whilst on honeymoon in Brazil.
We weren’t staying the hotel on this occasion but rather at the Fasano in Ipanema so on arrival at the Copacabana Palace we were greeted at reception and escorted through the hotel to the Cipriani restaurant where we had the chance for an aperitif in the restaurant or head straight to the kitchen. We chose the latter and were introduced to Fernando our super friendly waiter for the evening who led us through the dark curtains into the kitchen of the Cipriani and to our private booth.
Once seated we were then introduced to André our sommelier and perhaps most importantly to Luca Orini, the Head Chef. Luca had only recently moved to Rio from Italy and spoke perfect English. He told us how dinner would unfold and that we were ultimately in charge of the types of dishes he would present to us in the form of a taster menu. He discussed whether we had any specific likes, dislikes or allergies so that we could get the most from our dining experience before André brought over our first drink of the evening, a bottle of Perrier Joet Grand Brut champagne and Fernando followed up with an extensive bread board.
As the first dish was presented by Fernando our waiter, a carpaccio of beef with burrata, Chef Orini came over to explain the elements of the dish. André then appeared with a wine to pair with the dish, a crisp Chilean Marina Bravado Sauvignon Blanc.
This was to be how the remainder of the evening would pan out with the incredibly attentive and friendly Fernando and André returning with dish after dish, each paired with a beautiful wine to match. Each time chef Orini would take time out from the hotplate and come and speak to us about the dish. The service was attentive at all times however at no time did we feel as though we were being crowded as can often be the case when you are the only guests at a restaurant. I would say it was probably the best service I’ve ever experienced.
The taster menu was broken down into 5 distinct sections with 2 light starters to begin, followed by 3 fish courses, 4 pasta dishes, the ‘main courses’ and then 4 different desserts.
Sadly we only experienced one of the main courses as we had not quite anticipated the quantity of food on offer and the size of the taster menu dishes so decided to pass on the remaining 2 or 3 three meat dishes and skip straight to the desserts. In hindsight we would have done things differently as missing out on the Osso Bucco which was soon to come out is still a regret. Nevertheless, it gives me a reason to go back for a second time!
We sat down for dinner at 8pm and left the restaurant just after midnight having consumed 14 different dishes with 9 different wines all of which were truly superb. We were well and truly sated as we headed off to our hotel.
At the end of the meal we were presented with a signed menu by the head chef as a special memento of our evening.
Before we left we took the opportunity to have a few photos with Chef Luca Orini, our waiter Fernando and our sommelier André who really made the evening very special with their friendly personalities. It is a night which will live long in my memory.
In the taxi back to our hotel we debated which was our favourite course which was an impossible task but for me the Sea Urchin with spaghetti and the Pumpkin risotto with chuao chocolate are perhaps the top two contenders.
If you get the opportunity to experience a meal at the Chef’s table at the Copacabana Palace Hotel – jump at the chance – it’s amazing!
Although my wife might argue to the contrary, I’m by no means a food critic so although I’m tempted to wax lyrical about each dish in the most pretentious way possible, I’ll simply showcase the menu and the wines which went with it.
A visit to the Chef’s Table of the Copacabana Palace Hotel comes highly recommended and if you are travelling with us and wish to book the table for the night just let us know and we will arrange it for you. If you enjoy food and are on holiday in Brazil make sure you don’t miss it!
The Chef’s Table at the Copacabana Palace
Carpaccio with burrata
Avocado with crabmeat salad
Scallop and crab meat au gratin with asparagus tips and yam purée
Sole filet with onions, pine nuts and raisins
Rosemary scented mullet filet with sautéed artichokes
Eggplant “involtino” with vegetables and pecorino cheese
Gnocchi all Romana with lobster in shellfish sauce
Urchin with spaghetti
Pumpkin risotto with chuao chocolate
Puff pastry and sesame crusted taleggio cheese with truffled mushrooms
Chocolate mousse, raspberry and mango carpaccio
Creamy yogurt with green apple
Hazelnut soufflé with milk ice cream
Sorbet and ice cream selection
Coffee, tea and petit four
Dinner was paired with the following wine selection:
Perrier-Joet Grand Brut – France
Marina Bravado Sauvignon Blanc – Chile
Martenot Bourgogne Chardonnay – France
Beronia Viura D.O.C. – Spain
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Podium Garofoli – Italy
Martenot Bourgogne Pinot Noir – France
Una Hectare Linea Garage Carmenere – Chile
Sauternes Chateau Grand-Piquet – France
Porto Fonseca L.B.V. – Portugal