With a name as wonderfully camp as Zazá Bistrô Tropical, I was pretty certain I was going to love this restaurant before I’d even set eyes on it. And love it I did, for there was much to love.
First off, the exterior: set in a converted house on a corner just set back from Ipanema beach, Zazá is lined with an outside patio area and strewn with fairy lights. If the humidity of a Brazilian night is enough to put you off your food (you big wimp) then there’s also an art-filled room inside and an upstairs area where you can kick off your shoes and sit on plump cushions at low-level, candle-lit tables. So far, so good.
Then there’s the cocktails. Choose from an extensive list - it might take a while - and if the ‘Quiet Storm’ is still on the menu when you visit then absolutely opt for that. It’s a concoction of Absolut vodka with lychee, coconut milk and pineapple juice, lemon and guava, which combine to create some ambrosia-like nectar of which you could easily drink a dangerous amount.
The food is a sophisticated fusion of traditional Brazilian cuisine and Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. The menu is heavy on organic ingredients and fresh vegetables, enlivened by exotic flavourings. I tried a grilled hunk of Namorado fish, which came on a bed of perfectly crunchy cubes of Palmito Pupunha (hearts of Palm) and asparagus, with thick slices of caramelised plantian alongside. It was colourful, effortless and tropical. Kinda like Zazá itself.