We've already covered quite a lot of the venues down in Found 158 (to whit, JZ Club, Homeslice, Blackstone Magic Bar, Arkham and Hooked , and we did a big old round-up here). At the end of that last one, we swore we'd never write about it again.
This week, we write more about Found 158. Exceedingly good caipirinhas at a spot that seems copy-pasted from a São Paulo street corner, and some comforting Italian food from the people behind Xixi Bistro.
What It Is: "Boteco," according to resident explainer/chief patron Fabiano, loosely translates to "bar/pub/watering hole," a spot for laidback types to hang out all day drinking and eating in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. That's basically what this is. A watering hole built by Brazilians, for Brazilians, with the understanding that other people'll probably trickle in if the drinks really are that good.
Launched as the most authentic Brazilian joint in a city where "Brazilian" evokes "all-you-can-eat BBQ" and "Samba Night," it's definitely a passion project. It's built on that corner heading towards Arkham from Found 158s main square (oval?), to allow for a wider field of view of passing foot-traffic. The interior's decked out in knick-knacks from botecos back home, like street signs and serviette and soap holders. Pub grub is snackable and without pretense. The caipirinhas are made with one (1) full lime (seedless), actual cachaça, white (not brown) sugar, chipped not crushed ice.
The food comes courtesy of São Paulo native Thomazini, and it's skewed towards Brazilian bar snacks likes shredded chicken wrapped in a soft dough (Coxinhas), cheese dough-balls (Pão De Quiejo, 35rmb) and black bean soup (Caldinho De Feijão, 30rmb). Mains are things like a quickly whipped-up grilled rump cap steak with rice, confit onions and black beans (Picanha Grelhada or Prato Feito 98rmb, +5rmb for an egg). That's a little pricey for what you get, but on par with the offerings down in Found 158. They also have a bunch of sandwiches in the region of 60rmb. Expect it to shift more towards stew and soups as the weather turns colder.
Okay, caipirinhas. Caiprinhas come in two versions; original (50rmb) or special (60rmb). "Special" is things like pineapple flavored, ginger & cloves, coffee, mango, tomato... about 10 options, with more on the way. Including a Caipirissima, which is a caipirinha made with rum, and a sakerinha, made with sake. Both of those seem sort of like sacrilege, honestly, but hey, it's basically their national drink, they can do what they want to it.
Picanha Grelhada/Prato Feito
First Impressions: I am not Brazilian, so I can't say much for the authenticity of the place. Fabiano's enthusiasm is infectious, though, so I find myself hoping the place is legit. Thomazini's snacks definitely taste like they come from long experience eating good versions of them. In summary, there're three take-aways.
The first is that the caipirinhas are shockingly excellent. Shockingly. Which is good, because Fabiano says that if they don't make the best caipirinhas in the city, he'll close their doors. That's a direct quote. Second take-away is that, if El Santo is the church of tequila, Boteco is the church of cachaça. There're bottles of the stuff behind the bar, including versions aged in oak and native wood barrels you should inspect against the light and swish around in your mouth. If you care at all about the liquor, you should stop by Boteco.
The third take-away is that Fabiano and crew have basically cornered the Shanghai market on the Brazilian Portuguese word for "bar." Good luck, inevitable follow-up acts!
What It Is: Less experimental than Xixi Bistro (it's by the same guys), this late opener took a while to get off the ground but is now offering solid, hand-made Italian food at a good price, in nice surroundings, with a well-stocked bar.
The name's sort of a mission statement. On the one hand, it stands for Modern Italian Trattoria Osteria. On the other, it's an abbreviation of Milano and Torino, the two cities with the most influence. Finally, Mito is like "myth." Because they aim to be... mythical? Might be why they have an angel hanging over the bar. Speaking of the interior, the mix of salmon-colored counter tops and green pastel walls works well. The space is arranged in a meticulously haphazard way, broken up occasionally with partitions or plants and weird little touches (like that angel). You could guess it's the same people behind Xixi.
Food is solidly Italian fare, a touch of invention, not enough to mess with what makes Italian food good. Starters are things like Salmon and Avocado Bruschetta (48rmb), or Octopus Carpaccio (60rmb). Mains are things like Seafood Linguine (88rmb) with home-made pasta, some pizzas (Parma Ham & Rucola, 88rmb), some larger dishes like Roast Half Chicken & Potatoes (88rmb), Grilled Whole Seabass & Lemon (150rmb) and some steaks (up to 590rmb).
Drinks, meanwhile, are a mix of Asian and Italian-inspired things. The "Aromatic and Refreshing" section of the cocktail list has stuff like the Asian Tonic (60rmb), with white rum, elderflower, jasmine tea and grapefruit. Similarly aromatic and refreshing is the Basta Poco (65rmb), which is sparkling wine, vermouth and ginger. On the "Dry" list is stuff like the Coffee N Tonic (60rmb), with bourbon, coldbrew coffee, maple and tonic. Also of note are their little bottles of Negroni mixes; they're 50rmb each for things like Unusual Negroni, which includes dry vermouth and rose, and Boulevardier which uses bourbon instead of gin.
First Impressions: Nice! This is a nice place! 88rmb for a good seafood pasta dish and good 60rmb cocktails is a-okay. Bring a date here for sure. The food isn't trying to blow anyone's mind with some brilliant twist on Italian cuisine, but they're not beating a tired mule into the rut either. May have mixed my metaphors there. The bruschetta with avocado and salmon was a good balance of flavors, the seabass crispy flavorful, and the seafood linguine was really very excellent. The handmade pasta is cut a little thick, which I like. Also, the Panacotta (38rmb) was light but creamy. Order it for your significant other, it's cheap, cute and un-intimidating much like myself.
That Boulevardier was pretty damn good too. I'd say give it a try if you're not generally a fan of Negronis, it might be what you're missing in them. As for the rest of the cocktails, they're good! They, like the cuisine, are not over-engineered, and taste good. Mito might not be mitological (hah!) but on the Taoist Celestial Bureaucracy, it's a competent, sincere upper middle manager. Solid addition to the Hell of Many Brunch Offerings.