Restaurant review: Bem Brasil, Leeds city centre

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty
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ANYONE who has seen the movie Bridesmaids might understandably have reservations about Brazilian food.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, I’ll spare you the specifics of the scene in question.

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Suffice to say it involves an ill-advised meal, a wedding dress fitting and some pretty spectacular digestive pyrotechnics.

But thankfully, our trip to Bem Brasil involved nothing of the sort.

All similarities to the film dissipate as soon as you arrive.

Firstly, the eatery isn’t situated on a run-down back street.

It’s actually at a pretty impressive spot on Greek Street.

The company snapped up the former Giraffe site and has given it a new, modern makeover – and it certainly has the wow factor.

Bem Brasil joined the Greek Street crowd just in the nick of time, as many restaurants and bars are now clamouring for a spot on the street.

The area is most definitely on the up, with five-star boutique Dakota Hotel and The Alchemist moving there very soon.

Walking up the steps to the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly waitress.

It was almost completely empty, and the waitress guessed our name, as we must have been the only ones who booked ahead.

Unfortunately for me, my name had taken down wrong and I was given a slightly different name, which led to giggles from my dining companion, who I fear may taunt me with it for many years to come.

After the hilarity we were seated at a table near the buffet area in the centre of the restaurant.

The concept at Bem Brasil is simple.

You are given a card that you can flip onto green for when you want more meat, or red when you want a break (much like the process at Leeds-based restaurant Fazenda).

Servers continuously bring skewers of meat to your table, where they cut off the portion in front of you and deliver it straight to your plate.

There is a good range of meat and different cuts on offer, including (wait for it) Picanha, rump steak, chilli beef, smoked gammon, Brazilian pork sausage, pork ribs, leg of lamb, chicken hearts, chicken wrapped in pancetta and chilli chicken.

But if the meat isn’t enough to fill you up, there’s the buffet area too.

Being honest, Oliver was quite sceptical of the buffet at first.

All too often you find the dishes have been sitting out for hours, look uninspiring and unappetising, and are just generally below par.

So I was very surprised and happy to see so many fresh, tasty dishes that I couldn’t get enough of.

The beef stroganoff was so impressive it was good enough to be served as a main dish in its own right, with great quality meat and a sauce that was packed with flavour.

There’s also a great choice of pasta dishes, salads, authentic Brazilian cuisine and breads and it was good to see staff constantly checking the quality of the food and replenishing the dishes.

I may have got slightly carried away at the buffet, as I couldn’t resist trying a little of everything.

That’s the problem at Bem Brasil.

Everything looks so good that you want to try a bit of everything.

And with the pricing, luckily you can.

The fixed price is £25.95, with reduced prices for lunchtime diners and vegetarians.

It may sound like a lot, but you do get an awful lot for your money – in this cast that means a limitless supply of meat and buffet food.

We foolishly started off counting how much meat we went through but by the end of the meal we were well and truly defeated and had completely lost track.

It was just too difficult to say no when the servers walked past your table with a new barbecued meat to try, and we ended up going a little over-board.

Despite the abundance of food, we both agreed that the quality certainly hadn’t been sacrificed over quantity.

Every piece of meat was of a good quality and bursting with flavour.

Our favourites were the pork ribs and rump steak, which are well worth a try.

After all of that, we had a much-needed rest, which gave us a chance to soak up some of the atmosphere.

We hadn’t noticed due to all the meat-eating, but since we’d arrived the restaurant had become much busier, with a big party to the back of the restaurant and couples sitting all around us.

It made for a lively atmosphere and we were glad to see the venue busy.

After a few minutes we decided to try and squeeze in a dessert.

Bem Brasil offer a grilled cinnamon pineapple which is also served from the skewer, but we went for ice cream and a creme caramel-type dessert.

They were both slightly disappointing, and the creme caramel lacked flavour, so it became clear that the meat is really the star of the menu.

With a couple of glasses of wine and a cocktail, the bill came to just under £83.

Not cheap by any means, but we certainly didn’t leave feeling hungry.

In the end, the evening didn’t turn out to be a Bridesmaids disaster as we had previously feared.

In fact, Bem Brasil has some movie magic of its own, and it’s sure to do well once Greek Street becomes the glitzy new star of the show.

BEM BRASIL

Opening times: Monday to Sunday from 12pm to 10.30pm

Address: 6 Greek Street, Leeds LS1 5RW.

Telephone: 0113 244 1500.

Email: leeds@bembrasilrestaurants.com

Food ****

Value ***

Atmosphere ****

Service ****

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