UV grill true taste of Brazil

If you haven’t been to the University Village since the epic 12-for-$1 Superior Grocers cucumber sale or the tragic closing of Elegance, chances are you won’t know about the newest eatery — Corcovado Brazilian Grill.

Mention Brazilian barbecue and the most common image is a meat feast with platters of beef and plates of juicy fowl. Corcovado has plenty of meat, but it is far more than a den for the hungry carnivore. It is also one of the best-priced and vegetarian-friendly places near campus.

Located in the international food court of the University Village, Corcovado looks like all the other somewhat-questionable eateries where convenience rules over food quality. Don’t be fooled.

Mimi Honeycutt | Daily Trojan

The immediate eye-catchers at Corcovado’s are not slabs of meat but fresh, interesting salads. Think of a very pared down Lemonade. Some of the standouts include a cold chicken, carrot and potato salad; a tangy crab salad; and a refreshing Greek salad. Lovers of cilantro will be happy, as the herb is sprinkled on everything from potato salad to tabuli.

Some might be surprised by the vegetable-heavy menu of this Brazilian grill. Actually, the veggies are part of the authenticity. Brazil, as an agricultural society, has a respect for pure vegetables that rivals its love of good meat.

Some might also be surprised at dishes such as chicken stroganoff and tabuli — dishes not commonly imagined as South American fare. Again, the owners of Corcovado wanted to show off Brazil’s true self, not a stereotypical view of the country, and that it includes meals inspired by its immigrant populations.

Next up are the hot side dishes. They include braised collard greens, steamed rice and black beans with sausage. Again, Corcovado knows its plant food. The collard greens are pleasantly chewy and bitter instead of typical food court veggie mush, while the black beans are smoky and filling.

An unusual standout is the creamy chicken stroganoff, which is a must-have for a rainy day. The fried yucca and polenta wedges will satisfy a fry craving, but the other side dishes are far more interesting. Everything can be topped with a sprinkle of farofa, a savory, nutty flour made from yucca.

But when it comes to the centerpiece meat, Corcovado delivers. Gristly, cheap cuts of beef? Think again. Corcovado is even careful about how it freezes the meat, to protect the flavor and texture.

The chef is a native Brazilian from Rio de Janiero and serves up a variety of meats to soothe the savage meat eater. Corcovado’s most popular and best-tasting meat dish is the picanha, a sirloin cap marinated for days until it’s soft enough to melt in your mouth. And don’t be scared off by the red meat — sirloin is one of the leanest meats on the cow.

Chicken is never dull when it comes wrapped in bacon, as it is at Corcovado. The crisp and salty bacon covers the dryness that comes from white-meat chicken breast. For more rib-sticking poultry, check out the chicken drumsticks — old fashioned drumsticks roasted on a skewer until they are rich and juicy.

The third kind of meat at Corcovado’s is Linguiça,  an authentic Brazilian sausage with a spice that is obvious on first bite and sinks into the natural sweetness of the pork.

One of the best things about Corcovado’s menu is the importance of the actual ingredients — for example, the restaurant uses oil as a tasteful flavor enhancer instead of a cover for poor-quality meat and vegetables. Likewise, condiments such as mayonnaise play second fiddle to the veggies, and fresh herbs do more than the dried kind ever can. The dishes will not bring about culinary rapture, but they are tasty, interesting and fresh, and well above much of its food court competition.

For impoverished college students living off Top Ramen, Corcovado also offers one of the best deals near campus. After 6 p.m., celebrate happy hour, where the grill becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet, including the meats, for just $9.99. Outside of happy hour, side dish-only meals are $6.99 per pound; meat-and-side dish combos are $7.99 per pound; and a Churrasco-style meat platter is $11.99 per pound.

Those expecting a lunch at Fogo de Chão’s are setting the bar a little high. But anyone looking for a filling meal at a reasonable price that leaves one feeling warm and satisfied instead of teetering on the edge of a food coma, check out Corcovado.