Brazil’s street carnivals are world class, showcasing dazzling floats and lively samba dancers. And when it comes to hosting the ebullient Rio Carnival, we can expect the Brazilians to showcase only the biggest and brightest. And, best of all, everybody’s invited to join in with the music and dance in the parade, adding to the amazing carnival spirit.

Uma Nota is set to bring this dynamic festival to their restaurant, sharing the experience in the form of a vibrant brunch with Brazilian favourites on a plate – four hours of food and fun for all. The restaurant’s three-course Carnaval Brunch with free-flow drinks goes for $650 per person and runs on every second Saturday of the month.

When Uma Nota’s doors opened at 12pm, high-energy drum music beckoned us to samba in. The host held out two tubs of body paint – turquoise and gold – and instructed us to pick a colour before applying it in swift strokes to our faces and arms.

Our table was decorated with an assortment of flamboyant masks, and I toyed with some of the homemade percussion instruments displayed – bean-filled soda-can shakers and water-pipe pieces for tik-toks. Exciting!

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Like many people, caffeine is an essential start to my day. I held back on my usual cuppa joe at home, thinking that I would get my caffeine fix later at Uma Nota. But, instead, I was served from refreshing jugs of cocktails and sangrias, and my glass was kept full when I wasn’t even looking. DIY raspberry and strawberry caipirinhas from the cool shack at the back of the restaurant were also on offer. By the end of the meal, I had downed at least five glasses of mixed drinks and felt really pumped up.

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We began on a high with a Brazilian street-food fave, coxinhas de frango. These were beautifully breaded chicken-and-okra dumplings served with a kick-ass homemade chilli sauce. They tasted divine and were some of the best snacks I’ve ever had.

The other basket of nibbles contained dadinhos de tapioca, tapioca-and-cheese cubes served with sweet chilli sauce on the side. These golden cubes were deep-fried, and the sweet chilli sauce perfectly complemented the mild cheese.

These starters were easy to munch on with one hand while shaking a Coke-can caxixi with the other.

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The grilled sticks came next – beef with farofa and portobello with red-bell-pepper chimichurri – along with a bowl of salad greens. The meat was tender and moist, grilled so cleanly that there weren’t any charred bits at all. The mushroom was also flavourful and succulent, with a good bounce and juice when bit into.

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A couple more songs later, the main courses hit the table. The first to arrive was the rabalo assado em folha de bananeira, or grilled sea bass in banana leaf with fried banana and cassava farofa. The dish looked celebratory, and I loved the breaded texture of the cassavaa farofa on the banana.

Next came the carne de sol, a platter of pan-seared, salt-cured Angus beef, a first for me. The meat was on the dry side, but the curing brought out the intense and rich taste of the beef. The side of mashed sweet potato was velvety smooth, and its sweetness went well with the piquant meat.

And for the vegetarians and vegans out there: the heavenly moqueca vegetariana, banana and pumpkin stewed with tomato, red bell pepper and coconut milk and served with coconut rice. I had tried Uma Nota’s seafood version a few months back and loved the dish, but this vegetarian version wowed me even more. This was undoubtedly my personal favourite of the day.

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We ended with mousse de chocolate com cachaça – chocolate mousse with a hint of cachaca – served with a bowl of seasonal fruits. The sweetness of the fruits coupled with the intensity and bitterness of the chocolate made for a great pairing.

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Uma Nota’s energy made my tasting experience extraordinary, and by the end of the meal, I was an active folião, singing “Stand by Me” with the other diners and shaking a homemade caxixi. The restaurant presents their tried-and-tested favourites on their Carnaval Brunch menu and fills the space with a party-like spirit. This brunch would make for the perfect celebratory start to your day.

A deposit of $150 is required to secure a reservation and dietary requirements must be specified at the time of booking.

38 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 2889 7576

This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.

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