Think Brazil and the images merrily samba dance their way into your mind's eye. Copacabana Beach and the Mardi Gras, as well as one of the earth's most iconic sports teams.
Pele, Carlos Alberto, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Ronaldo, Zico, Ronaldinho – the names roll off the tongue for students of Brazil's wonderful footballing past. And the modern-day star, Neymar. He rolls too – all over the pitch after being fouled.
Everyone loves Brazil, right? Always the neutral's favourites at a World Cup. The history, the goals, the legends. If only we could find a little piece of it on the south coast?
Thankfully, the Dish Detective has this week enjoyed his own Pedro Alvares Cabral moment. Quick history lesson – Pedro is credited with being the first European to discover Brazil in 1500. DD has no such claim regarding Casa Brasil, one of 15 restaurants at Port Solent and possibly one of the best venues for a group outing in Portsmouth. Not the cheapest, though.
The concept is simple. Gauchos (servers) visit your table brandishing a huge knife and large skewers of meats such as beef, pork coated in Parmesan cheese, chicken wings, steak, sausages, turkey and gammon.
All menus are eat-as-much-as-you-want for a fixed price. Those start at £13.95 for lunch, which in the DD book is good value for money, but rise to £22.95 Mon-Thurs evenings and £25.95 on Friday and Saturday evenings – even though the food on offer is virtually the same as at lunchtimes. Make sure you’re starving if you go in the evening, therefore, as that’s a lot of meat and salad for your money’s worth.
An ability to turn a card over is key. If your table card is red side up, the gauchos will stay away. However, green side up will see them reappear every few minutes from the brick grill churrascaria.
Included in your price are unlimited visits to a well-stocked hot and cold buffet counter featuring the likes of fried banana, a variety of different salads, chicken wings and sweet potato fries. Some of the 'hot' items were lukewarm, but with fewer customers in at lunchtimes you're liable to find that in buffet-style restaurants.
Meat-wise, the food was of a high standard. The DD's partner sang the delights of the steak while yours truly Hoovered down extra gammon slices – delicious with some roasted pineapple and cinnamon – and sausages beautifully flavoured with paprika.
You wouldn’t take your loved one for a quiet candlelight meal here. Instead, it courts groups desiring an evening feast where the food keeps on arriving – and if your card remains green side up, it will. The drinks flow like the mighty Amazon.
An eight-pint beer tower costs £31.95 – a £7.75 saving. Alternatively, try a fishbowl cocktail (serves four) for £29.95 or something your DD has never set eyes on before – boozy milkshakes (one featuring Jack Daniels honey).
The drinks are expensive, but no different to many restaurants these days. Entice punters in with worthwhile food offers, but hit them with over-priced drinks.That appears the plan.
In a World Cup of restaurant marketing, though, Casa Brasil would be serious contenders. Students get 20 per cent off, kids up to five eat for free (between six-12 they're half price), regular Sunday samba sessions feature bands and dancing girls and you feast for free on your birthday as well. All this and eight-pint beer towers too!
Many food reviews concentrate purely on the food. But the wider picture can be of interest, and Casa Brasil is a case in point. A large room, lively colours, friendly staff, a conveyor-belt of freshly-cooked meat, plus a riotously colourful drinks menu begging you to leave the car at home.
Casa Brasil, Port Solent (023) 9221 4444
Ratings (out of five)