The Elephant & Castle has been the hub for all the good things from South America for many years now, and Castle Square is the destination point for the South American experience, whether that be food, drinks or music, so I was very pleased to be invited to review Tupi, a Brazilian restaurant with commanding views over the square, writes Michael Holland.
I was accompanied by local artist Ed Gray, one of the capital’s foremost visual chroniclers of London and its fascinating array of people. A man who is always people-watching while making judgements on the surrounding architecture.
But enough of him, I was here for the full Brazilian and that’s exactly what I told Giulia the Boss when she greeted us, showed us to a table and brought menus and water.
‘You must start with a Caipirinha,’ she said before listing the ingredients in an accent that made me believe I was actually in conversation with The Girl From Ipanema.
Ed, however, trod more carefully and ordered a lager.
Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar, and lime, its sweet and sour exotica transports you to a place you could live forever.
Not knowing what my Brazilian Brunch was going to be I was excited to find Giulia had chosen the Huevos Rancheros for me. The name itself sent me off mentally riding the range, rounding up cattle before tucking in to Huevos Rancheros around the campfire like a proper gaucho. It consisted of tomatoes and peppers in chilli sauce, a very fresh pico de gallo, mashed avocado, and poached eggs on a bed of black beans. It was a riot of flavours, textures and colour; the edible flowers putting a rather nice finishing touch to the dish. Ed played it safe again and ordered steak(rare), egg, chips, and another beer. Nevertheless, the steak came with chimichurri to add a spicy piquancy to the dish.
After a period of contented silence while we ate we both had great things to say about our meals. I truly felt I had experienced the best of Brazil’s cuisine. And it was all on one plate!
Tupi relates to people living throughout the Amazon River basin, and those roots are reflected in the decor and in the clientele who come to get a taste of home while listening to samba and sertanejo. It is a busy place and the offers of bottomless brunch keep the crowds coming.
I joined Ed in a glass of beer while discussing his current projects, his anticipated exhibition about loss and survival, the problems of his plans for the family to travel in a post-Brexit Europe, and then our Pancakes with Mixed Berries arrived just as the Grays metaphorically arrived in Sweden. They looked absolutely delicious.
This was a rich dish which we shared. Not really Brazilian but very refreshing and it left a taste that lingered lovingly on the lips.
We both enjoyed the authenticity of Tupi and the vibe the staff create there. We sensed a home from home atmosphere, and sometimes that is all you need.
Tupi, 2, Castle Square, Elephant Rd, London SE17 1EN
0207 635 5949 – www.tupilondon.com
Photos: M. Holland