Each trip I make to Senzala is a pleasure. The sofas, chairs and coffee tables arranged along the perimeter of the restaurant, along with the free Wi-Fi, extend a warm invitation to relax and stay for the afternoon. Moreover, there are always plenty of available tables to be found, even during the lunch hour, in the restaurant's large, open floor plan.
Today for lunch, however, I could only enjoy Senzala remotely, as lunch was catered for a department event we had at work. Reviewing a restaurant based on an experience outside of the restaurant is difficult, if not unfair. Eating inside Senzala is much more enjoyable than eating in my company’s cafeteria, where I ate today. Even more important, though, is that a hot dish needs to be served hot and the foil trays that came to my work simply couldn’t keep lunch hot and fresh.
All that said, however, the fried banana was terrific. It was oh-so-lightly fried yet the banana maintained its form. It was delicious. The fried yucca was a new experience for me, but it tasted a little bland and had the hardness of undercooked taro root. The chicken and steak, which could be cut with a plastic knife, were tender. Overall, though, the sauces, including those for the chicken and shrimp, lacked zip.
I expected much better from the sides. The rice was hard and the polenta thin and watery. The pinto beans were very ordinary. Indeed, even though the meats were gone within the first few minutes, entire trays of rice and beans were hardly touched—even when left for hours in the cafeteria for others to grab.
Despite the disappointing starches today, I would still recommend Senzala, but as a place to eat, not to carry out from. In fact, why stop at “eat”? The warm environment there all but begs you to relax on the couch indefinitely for one long post-lunch tea.