Classic French food may not be the first cuisine which springs to mind when booking a table in Rio de Janeiro, however when it’s No. 35 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants AND holds a Michelin star, you make an exception. Located on a quiet residential street in the Lagoa area of the city (we jumped in a quick taxi from Ipanema), Olympe is a small but perfectly formed, elegant restaurant attracting a stylish crowd.
At the helm is Thomas Troisgros, who took over from his father, Claude, a man well regarded for his pioneering nouvelle cuisine in his native France. Although techniques may be French, at Olympe they are perfectly reinterpreted with seasonal Brazilian ingredients for a fresh new take on fine dining. Allow plenty of time (and have a light lunch) as it’s all about the tasting menu here. Olympe offers a choice of either 5 or 7 courses or you can order from the a la carte menu. We’d urge you to stretch to the wine pairing if you can – the sommelier was superb, blending new and old world wines to great effect. In fact, in 2016, Olympe received three stars from Britain’s “World of Fine Wine”.
We began with a dainty amuse bouche – a spoonful of scallop sitting beneath a sculptural daikon construction – and tried not to hoover up the entire freshly baked French stick which was tempting us from the corner of our eye (unsuccessfully I should add, it was utterly delicious).
Highlights from our menu included a pretty plate of sundried tomatoes, dotted with delicate onion layers in a smoky white foam and the freshly made tortellini served in an onion broth – little flavour bombs that popped with blue cheese filling. Red snapper was served with the most exquisite layered chard accompaniment – a real looker but every bit as delicious as it appeared. Some of the dishes were a little more challenging – such as the earthy beetroot flower with chocolate and kefir. However, we ended on a high with dessert – a speculoos topped mousse with salted caramel and edible flowers.
Compared to many western tasting menus we found Olympe extremely good value and a truly innovative take on Brazilian cuisine.