808 Lexington Ave (62nd Street)

212 223 2965

Brazilian food can be a hearty affair, so we made sure we had lots of room before dropping into Circus. We had passed by the day before and the menu had looked intriguing, even if the feijoda (Brazil's national dish) was only available on weekends. If nothing else, they had lots of neat sounding side dishes.

Circus is one of those convenient restaurants that serves all afternoon, though they switch to the dinner menu around 5PM. We settled in for lunch, and despite a mixup in our appetizer order, had a wonderful, hearty meal. We started with a fried salt cod cake served with a salad and a very good, but relatively small portion of chorizo.These were good, but things were just getting started.

The meal really picked up with the main courses. We had the acorn squash stuffed with shrimp, heart of palm, peas, tomatoes and shredded collard greens. It sounds like a hopeless mish mash, but all the flavors married wonderfully. Heart of palm is usually served with vinegar flavors, as in a salad dressing, but it has a rich, woody flavor when served as a savory. The dish was a bit of a gut bomb, but that's what we came for.

Things got even better with the baby chicken (poussin?), which was served with a slightly sweet sauce. The bird's skin was crisp and the meat tender and moist. We scarfed it down with mashed potatoes, roast eggplant and spinach. We also gorged on the side dishes. We ordered the chunky fried yucca chips and the shredded collards. We ate all the yucca chips before the grease cooled and the skins got soggy, and then attacked the collard greens in a fit of guilt. We had to eat something healthy.

Unlike many restaurants, the main dishes, not the appetizers are the stars here. We'll be back to work our way through the menu. Just a warning, the food at Circus is rich and flavorful, so make sure you come hungry, and remember, you can get a meal anytime after noon.

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