DOM is a small place with about 7 tables, one some being upstairs. There is little marking of the place outside but the valet stand indicates something fancy is inside. The front door is huge – maybe 10 feet tall. It has been awarded 2 Michelin stars, has low lighting, music in the background and a center serving table under a decorative chandelier. Some of the closely spaced large tables were a polished wood with linen placemats and others were cloth covered and some had bench seating while others had stuffed chairs. The kitchen is in one corner of the room but mostly closed off from the dining room except for a small window. They offered several different tasting menus, no a la carte, with one being vegetarian. The menu stresses Brazil’s indigenous foods and flavors. Wine pairing are available with the tastings. The food has quality ingredients but mostly was underflavored for me. This was their 20th anniversary of being in business. Service was attentive and the staff spoke good English. Pacing and portion control were good.
Everyone starts off the experience with a moist cloth to wipe your hands – always a nice touch, especially when finger food is soon to come. They began with an Amazonian ant and cachaca. The ant, from the black river, had a strong sour taste like lemon. The cachaca (rum liquor made from sugar cane) was combined with lemongrass and sugar to make a disk to encase the second ant served. The plain ant was so-so but the sugar coated, liquor encased one was delicious.
Tapioca, langoustine and coconut were combined in two ways. One was tapioca in a langoustine bisque and the other crispy tapioca topped with langoustine and coconut. The coconut dominated the flavor on the plate with the lightly cooked langoustine. The broth in the second one was not as strongly flavored as I would have expected; it was actually a little dull and here the langoustine was raw. The bowl would rate only an ok as the flavors really didn’t meld for me. The crispy one also had problems as here the flavors didn’t really compliment one another and it was really messy to eat.
Yanomami mushrooms salad was made with Brazilian mushrooms that only one tribe of people know how to pick. They were combined with an asparagus, fried leaf and fudgy egg yolk. The mushrooms didn’t have a strong flavor and the leaf added a good crunch to the dish. The asparagus was perfectly cooked but overall this one also offered mild flavors with good textural contrasts.
Cashews, scallops and marrow were the next course. Bone marrow made up the sauce on the barely cooked sweet scallops. They were well complimented by the rich sauce and crisp cracker. The cashew fruit was a sweet addition and really delicious – maybe a new favorite for me. This was the best dish yet.
Heart of palm, vatupá, coconut milk and blue taro were combined in a ‘ravioli’ of sorts. The heart of palm was inside and the coconut milk made up the reduced sauce called vatupá, and it was good. The blue taro was made into a thick smooth paste from the elephant ear plant and had a kale like flavor. This dish was better when you combined the ingredients, as they were better together than apart. This was a tasty one.
Pirarucu, an Amazonian river fish with pacoca (ground peanuts, sugar, grains and salt) were served in a fish broth. They also had a dish of Malagueta peppers if you wanted to add some extra spice to the dish. The fish in the soup was a firm yet tender fleshed fish. The pacoca around and under the fish melted into the broth that was presented with a fish in the bowl. With the added pepper the dish was fun, with hints of cumin in the mix. It worked together nicely.
Next a straw mat was placed on the table with a small wooden bowls to serve the Manioc, the Brazilian root, course. It had many components. The manioc “beiju” or indigenous bread were on white napkins and quite soft and coated with tapioca butter. Manioc farofa was combined with mullet bottarga in a spoon. Puffed manioc was thin and crunchy next to the round cheese bread. A plate with some pickled okra also had caramelized garlic and asaí berry cream and Manioc mille-feuille. This course had lots of textures and the spoon offered an intense flavor of fishy. The Manioc cream blended well with the garlic but overall this course had lots of bread and grease and felt heavy.
Duck in tucupi sauce was presented with a leaf that gives a tingle to the tongue. It did indeed make the dish better.
Hump steak was accompanied by baroa potato and wild Brazilian vanilla. The beef was very tender and the potato purée sweetened with vanilla overtones. A tiny bit of pickled okra was the perfect adornment as it cut the sweet vanilla flavor. They brought out an example of these huge vanilla bean pods.
Aligot with toffee is a cheesy mashed potato, this one with caramel toffee. It is served at the table stringing down from some spoons. The toffee was the brown dot next to the gooey cheesy lump. They were fairly milky tasting and the sauce really helped. Otherwise they were mostly dull except for the interesting presentation.
The straw mat was removed and we were given a smaller, print napkin for the Brazilian bee honey ice cream with fermented honey and pollen that was a pre-dessert. The ice cream made with native bee honey was not too sweet but very soft. It was a good transition.
Tapioca and rapadura mochi were served with mate herb ice cream. This mochi, a Japanese rice cake, was made with tapioca and the ice cream made with green tea. With these were candied cashew nuts and pommegranite seeds. It was a nicely sweet dish with gelatinous little cakes that worked well with the smooth ice cream. The nuts and seeds added texture. A thin syrup was the final ingredient in this good sweet fix.