Carnaval Brazilian BBQ
Address: 270 Waterfront Dr.
Clear your schedule and add a notch to the old belt, because it’s time for a meeting with meat. Or a carnivore festival, if you take this new Waterfront spot’s name literally.
This 110-seat meating place is the third local manifestation of owner Noel Bernier’s love for South American cuisine. Much fanfare preceded its open, so when Carnaval Brazilian BBQ fired up the grill in February this meat-and-potatoes town was licking its chops in anticipation.
A nose knows how to find this churrasco style steakhouse; simply follow the wafting aroma of charcoal caressed beef. Carnaval has added a new dimension to interactive eating in Winnipeg. Much like fondue, Korean barbeque and teppanyaki, the opportunity to engage with gauchos contributes to the experience.
Brandishing spears of sirloin cap, spicy pork sausage and chicken thighs, gauchos work the room, knives poised and ready to slice juicy meat morsels at a diner’s whim. It is the gauchos who add Carnival sizzle to the dining room’s corporate chic vibe of terrazzo flooring and taupe-on-beige tones.
Servers review a lesson you already know, that red means stop and green means go. Ask for cheese. These charred, unctuous morsels come cloaked in smoke.
While you can’t bring home the bacon, you’ll sure get to enjoy umami glory of bacon-wrapped tenderloin and chicken breast. Take a moment to revel the thrill of anticipation and in the sheer excess of it all. Occasional meat gorging can make one feel magnificent, like medieval royalty.
Best in show sides include fries (golden, shoestring and liberally salted) and a creamy potato salad with cumin warmth and juicy hits of julienne red bell pepper.
But there is more to the menu than meats the eye as Carnaval tosses herbivores a substantial (vegetarian) bone. A stunning tower of black bean, potato and corn cakes and grilled eggplant sitting in a verdant pool of salsa verde put to shame our expectations.
The stakes are high and strategy becomes imperative as bellies fill. The cunning eschew dessert and pause on red, keeping an eye out for choice cuts, poised for the quick flip to green.