The Noise From Brazil

Medalhao mignon a Boteco, or filet mignon, provided us with another briny overdose. The accompanying piamonteza rice, Parmesan-rich and creamy like risotto, was excellent. And the main dish, the grilled filet wrapped with bacon, was a thick, juicy, pleasantly musky hunk of beef. But a Madeira sauce strangled the meat with salt.

A similar wine sauce, laden with sliced mushrooms, absolutely ruined the frango Ipanema, or sauteed chicken breast. The boneless, breaded poultry medallions were as tender as a love song, but the excess salt made our tongues shrivel like slugs. At one point we asked the busboy simply to leave us his pitcher of water. My guest was happy, too, that her rice was served on a separate plate.

Coconut milk is always a soothing balm, and we thought the camarao a baiana, or stewed shrimp, actually helped to quench our thirst. The half-dozen shrimp were fresh and tightly curled in their flavorful bath of palm oil, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. Creamy without being heavy, the stew, a trademark of the northeastern Bahian region of Brazil, was well matched by the fragrant, buttery white rice.

Closed Location

E la carte side dishes include wonderfully crunchy, fried whole bananas, which could substitute as a dessert. More traditional sweets like pudim (flan) and quindim (coconut custard) were agreeable, if not outstanding. A dish of passion fruit mousse was the most unusual of the desserts, the whipped, airy pudding appropriately tangy with the tropical fruit.

Boteco is a lively, well-run restaurant. Service was prompt and cheerful, and the fare undeniably authentic. I'd gladly return on one condition: The kitchen staff throws out its saltshaker or at least uses it less often. Salt helped preserve Brazil's culinary history, but here in Fort Lauderdale, it tends to erode.

Boteco. 4140 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-566-3190. Lunch and dinner daily from noon to midnight; Fri. and Sat. until 2 a.m.

Grilled provolone with oregano
$3.95
Hearts of palm salad
$4.95
Camarao a baiana
$14.95
Medalhao mignon a Boteco
$15.75
Passion fruit mousse
$3.50

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