Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cafe Bossa Nova sets tongues to dancing

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Fish tacos - LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
  • Fish tacos

Cafe Bossa Nova is known across Little Rock for cheese bread and authentic Brazilian food curated by its owner, Rosalia Monroe (who also operates the eponymous bakery/coffee shop/grab-and-go next door). Located in hopping Hillcrest, it’s a popular go-to for lunch, dinner and brunch.

My girlfriend and I went to Bossa Nova for a sort-of brunch last Saturday, mostly because it’s her very favorite place and I’d only eaten there once, ages ago.

Hypothetically speaking, of course, if you "accidentally" arrived at a restaurant 30 minutes before they opened, and if (again, hypothetically) they had a bakery next door, nobody could possibly blame a person for eating a brownie as an appetizer, right? That's just common sense. The brownie itself was straightforward, but honestly, that's exactly what I want from a brownie. A layer of cream cheese, however, served to make the taste buds dance—instead of a sweetened icing, the tang of lightly sweetened cream cheese added nice balance to the chocolate base.

Having made short work of the brownie, we migrated over to Bossa Nova. Our waiter was courteous and professional, with a manner that matched the bright, comfortable dining space.
click to enlarge Caipirinhas - LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
  • Caipirinhas

To begin, I wanted an adult beverage that would do justice to the summer weather, so I ordered a mojito. They instead suggested the beverage they’re a little famous for, the caipirinha. Muddled limes, sugar and Brazilian rum all added up to a refreshing, not-too-sweet morning pick-me-up. Frankly, I probably could have sipped my meal instead of ordering anything else, but I exercised a little control and stopped at one.

I lived in Virginia Beach for awhile about ten years ago, and that’s where I first had fish tacos. The fried tilapia, sauce, cabbage, and pico on corn tortillas from my favorite place were so innovative at the time, and soon tons of places across the country were making them. Unfortunately, I never found any that began to compare to the first I’d had.

Until now.

Presentation is key to priming the palate—and this plate was an exemplary mix of color, texture and arrangement. The crispy fried Mahi-mahi was fresh and generous, with two pieces in each taco. The Napa cabbage was a nice complement, but I have to say the best part was the mango-radish salsa on top. It’s only been a few days and I’m already craving a repeat. If you like fish tacos, head on over to Bossa Nova as soon as possible.
click to enlarge Ipanema quiche - LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
  • Ipanema quiche

My friend ordered an Ipanema quiche with Kalamata olives, spinach, and feta. Now, in case I haven’t mentioned this enough previously, I’ve historically not been a fan of quiche. But this specimen, with its bit of spinach and a distinct (but not overpowering) olive flavor, is something I would not only order, but strive to replicate in my home kitchen. I don’t know that I could even begin to try, though, as the texture was the kind of fluffy that most home chefs only dream of in their egg dishes.

Bossa Nova is authentic food made with care and served with professionalism and attention to detail. My visit is one I can’t wait to repeat again and again.

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