Lula Brazil: A Brand New Life for a Favorite Spot
As I sat at a window table at Lula Brazil the other night, watching folks pass by, waving at a few couples I knew, I couldn’t help but be transported back to the old days of the late, lamented Cloud 9. But if anything can fill those mighty shoes, it’s the brand new eatery Lula Brazil—something so different and special it will clearly make its own great memories on that site.
Megan Hudson, a restauranteur who fell in love with Brazil in her youth, and never forgot its flavors and culinary magic, is on hand to welcome diners to her new venture. While beef and seafood are menu highlights, Lula Brazil boasts unique presentations, ingredients and spices—not to mention music and ambiance—that transport you down to Rio.
A variety of cultures meld in Brazil, including Portuguese, African, Japanese, and the South American indigenous population. It’s no wonder the cuisine is distinctive and adventurous.
We started off with Salgardinos, a selection of appetizers to introduce us to some Brazilian flavors. From the tasty cheese bread to savory pastry puffs with hearts of palm, our introduction to Lula’s kitchen peaked our interest—and the accompanying signature beverage, Caipirinhas (muddled fruit—I chose lime, Bonnie chose peach, sugar, and rum, served on the rocks) paired perfectly.
As long as we were flying down to Rio in our imaginations, we concentrated our dinner choices on the true Brazilian specialties, although delightful menu options featuring steaks, pork chops, pastas and salmon abound.
Our first entrée choice, Prato de casa ($22), grilled calamari stuffed with banana and farofa (a toasted yucca flour mixture) and served with rice was as delicious as it was unique. I’m well accustomed to fried calamari, but this grilled version was bursting with flavor. Our charming waiter coaxed us to try the dish, as the combination (bananas?) brought out my skepticism, but he was so right. A delight.
Our second entrée to taste Paupiette de peixe ($28) had swordfish and crab, rolled and poached in coconut milk and served with rice and black beans. Again, unique and delicious.
Choices also include Churrasco meats from the grill, grilled chicken breast ($22), and a Brazilian burger ($12) with crispy potato sticks, cheddar and a fried egg. We saw an order go by on a tray and vowed a return trip. As fall closes in, their mussels in chorizo broth, fried calamari and Linguica with yucca fries might be just the ticket to a casual dinner.
Still steeped in a South American adventure, we tasted the coconut custard dessert and wished we’d had room for more than just a few bites. So sated, we had to pass on the Brazilian cheesecake, but I see another visit in my very near future.
While the grand bar from Cloud 9 still anchors the restaurant, there are now two lovely dining rooms and the outside terrace perfect for dining or cocktails. Megan plans to host entertainment and dancing with a South American flair and bring the old building back to vibrant life.
But back to that bar. It’s the perfect place to sample several Brazilian rums (you can have a flight of three for $15) or the sugar cane liquor—a spirit developed a hundred years before rum! Sit and sip, and savor the rebirth of that glorious room at 234 Rehoboth Avenue. Welcome back!
Sips and Bites
Ambrosia is the new Italian eatery at 19 Wilmington Avenue. I went there to hear guitarist Glenda Diem and the young singing sensation Mark Luckenbill. They cover everything from the classic American songbook (young Mark is an inspiration with those old tunes!) to Elvis and more. Ambrosia has a great happy hour and Friday nights with Glenda and Mark are a treat.
Big Sissies on Rehoboth Avenue Extended is known for comfort food at low prices. Chef Russell Simonds has some delicious fried chicken for you on Wednesday nights and a different special every night of the week. Great entertainment, too, with Cathy Gorman and John Flynn and more. Check it out!