The only thing worse than a restaurant with bad food and a bad atmosphere is one with bad food and a great atmosphere. After all, it’s easy to dislike a terrible place, but it’s painful to watch a well-meaning one fall short. Such was our experience at Berimbau. There was plenty to like at this Brazilian eatery—but none of it was what we ate. The narrow, artfully decorated space is an inviting nook where you can observe the street through tall, open windows, while gracious and attentive servers keep water glasses full and the caipirinhas coming. Unfortunately, few of the dishes we tried measured up to Berimbau’s charming ambience. A simple starter of Brazilian sausage rounds with crisp and substantial yucca fries was the meal’s savory highlight. But an appetizer of acaraj (black-bean cakes native to the state of Bahia) topped with vatap—a paste of shrimp, cashew and palm oil—was strikingly bland. An entre of duck breast marinated with cachaa and lime was overcooked, and its accompanying brown sauce was thin and harsh. Worse was the coconut-milk-based seafood stew, chock-full of fishy mussels, wan scallops, shrimp and red snapper. Generous desserts were significantly better, including a thick and creamy passion-fruit mousse and a dense caramel flan. But the sweets couldn’t compensate for the prior missteps. The setting may be pleasant, and the dishes delivered with sincerity, but in the end neither can save mediocre cooking.
43 Carmine St
|Cross street:||between Bedford and Bleecker Sts|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Fri 5pm–midnight; Sat, Sun 11:30am–midnight|
|Transport:||Subway: A, C, E, B, D, F to W 4th St|
|Price:||Average main course: $21. AmEx, MC, V|
|Do you own this business?|