Part of the fun of travelling is discovering little eateries off the beaten track.
But I’m not on holiday exploring lands overseas; I’m looking for a good meal here in Abu Dhabi and truth be told, you would never stumble upon OLA Brasil Restaurant unless you were hopelessly lost.
As soon as you walk into the venue, two things become evident. First, this is a casual yet elegant restaurant, subtly decked out in white marble with a semi-open kitchen. Second, the unmistakable smell of grilled meat is giving me flashbacks to barbecues during the limited days of Scottish sunshine.
Everything that isn’t meat is presented buffet-style and there’s a wide selection of salads, garnishes, side dishes and starters, from black-eyed bean salad and sushi to mashed potato.
When it comes to the main attraction, the meat is presented on giant spits that
are whisked around the restaurant from table to table.
As opposed to the typical traffic light coaster system of most churrascarias, OLA gives you a button to press when you want meat – keep it on if you’re ready to tuck in and turn it off when you need a break.
The garlic beef is as good as it gets – smoky and charred on the outside but incredibly succulent in the middle, all coated in the familiar hum of garlic.
Criminally soft and juicy, the beef ribs are worthy of second (and maybe even third) helpings while the baby octopus, cooked to perfection, also proves to be a highlight.
Eventually I turn the light off because, well, all good things must come to an end.
Maybe it’s time to finally make that trip to South America after all. But until then, OLA will satiate my need for a taste of Brazil.
Need to know:
Location: Ola Brasil, Al Ghazal Golf Club, near Abu Dhabi International Airport
We say: Well worth heading off the beaten track for
Cost: AED 318 for two
Opening times: Sun-Thu noon-3pm and 6pm-11pm, Fri and Sat noon-11pm
Contact: 02 505 3323, facebook.com/olabrasilrestaurant
WORDS Colin Armstrong