We have a lot to be thankful for in the natural environment of the Gold Coast. Not only do we have stunning white sandy beaches, great surf and glorious weather, but our outdoor lifestyle and sporting prowess attract people from around the globe to our shore. They, in turn, bring the world to us.
Sabor Brasil, its name literally translated to ‘The Flavour of Brazil’, is a Brazilian bar and restaurant that opened at Nobby Beach in September 2021.
Co-owner Brendo Willian arrived on the coast only three years ago without speaking any English.
“My parents owned a restaurant in Imbé in southern Brazil. It was a humble place with a small menu of Brazilian favourites. My mother was the chef and Dad was Front of House. There really weren’t many opportunities for me in our area, so I decided to take a gap year to learn English and gain opportunities,” Brendo tells us.
“There was never a question in my mind about coming to the Gold Coast. I was attracted by the surf, particularly Snapper Rocks, and I knew all about Mick Fanning. I’m quite a shy person, so a smaller city like the Gold Coast suited me, rather than being overwhelmed by a large city like Sydney or Melbourne. Also, the climate was similar to home; a bit better, if anything,” he relates.
After working his way up from being a glassy at Taboo Tiki to cook and manager, transferring to Aloha Bar & Dining, Brendo won the trust of his employer, Gold Coast hospitality veteran Gavin McDougal.
Talking one day with Gavin about how much he missed Brazilian food, Brendo shared his dream of opening a traditional, authentic Brazilian restaurant on the Gold Coast and Gavin was keen to be involved.
Three years after arriving on the coast, Brendo is studying cookery and he has proudly opened Sabor Brasil with Gavin, a restaurant which shows off his homeland and the food he loves so much.
One of only three Brazilian restaurants on the Gold Coast, this venue has been carefully created to fill our senses with a taste of Brazilian life. We listen to samba performed live on weekend evenings, walk on the floor created to reflect the Ipanema beachfront promenade, dine under the favela del Rocinha of Copacabana Beach, and gaze upon the Bahia bands as we make our three wishes.
Using his mother’s recipes, many of which have been passed down from his grandmother, Brendo has composed his menu of Bar Snacks, Entrées, Meat, Classic Brazilian Mains, Sides and Dessert; a menu that invites newcomers to taste Brazilian food.
But first, order a drink. Cachaça is Brazil’s national drink, a sugar spirit that can be drunk on ice, or muddled with lime and sugar to make a Caipirinha. It’s perfect to drink as you nibble starters of Paozinho de Queijo, the addictive crispy coated cheese balls that were Brendo’s afternoon snack when school finished, or Coxinha, a raindrop-shaped Brazilian croquette often eaten with a beer as an afternoon snack.
“Our four chefs make everything in house,” Brendo tells us. “It is tasty food, not fancy, but it is the food many Brazilians eat,” he said.
“The one dish you have to try is the set meal. It is a big meal, mostly eaten at lunchtime, before siesta.”
Trying the Prato Feito, a generous plateful of steak (or chicken or vegan enchiladas), rice, beans, salad and chips, I can’t help but realise that, thousands of kilometres away in a different hemisphere, this meal is parallel but different to our plate of steak, chips and salad served in so many hotels and cafés in Australia.
Then there’s the Picanha do Nato ao Molho Quatro Queijos (steak with four-cheese sauce), that brings a version of the Italian dish Quattro Formaggi to service on a steak.
“This is a dish that my dad made for me all the time when I was a kid,” Brendo says.
Same, same but different, the vegan options are just one way Brendo has made a few adjustments to suit his Gold Coast clientele. The food is a little fancier, if anything, than neighbourhood restaurants in Brazil.
What Brendo has captured for us, though, is a glimpse of the true ‘flavours’ of Brazil, the people’s hospitality and joy for living. Pop in for a beer or cocktail, some snacks, a little music, and celebrate the multicultural party vibe Sabor Brasil brings us.
Sabor Brasil, Shop 2, 2243 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5500 0000 Open: Wed – Fri 5.30pm – 10pm; Sat – Sun 12pm – late
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Sabor Brasil.