Rio’s Brazilian Cafe: Apple Buzios
408 N. Pleasant Valley Road. 828-6617, www.riosofaustin.com.
Almost any sit-down place with burgers will have a green salad with apples, cheese and candied nuts. At Rio’s, they don’t bother with a burger and they don’t bother making that salad, at least not the way you’d expect. Sharing a name with a Brazilian resort town, the Buzios ($8) shows off by placing at its center a peeled green apple, roasted in and saturated by red wine. It’s small but surprisingly heavy, hollowed just enough for a dose of tangy goat cheese and a candied walnut. The apple’s flavor cascades through spinach and Romaine, propelled by a sweet white balsamic dressing that weaves through raisins and more walnuts and cheese. It’s an outdoor salad, a summer picnic on a plate, a roasted suckling pig with an apple stuck in its mouth, minus the pig. And Rio’s is the right place for it, a low green-and-yellow cinder-block casinha with Brazilian salgadinho pastries, friendly service and dense, gooey cheese breads made with yuca flour.