One of the best spots around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas for food and drink in attractive surroundings - and with a spectacular view - Lagoon Gourmet opened in 2012 inside Lagoon, a 10,000-square-meter entertainment complex integrated to the Lagoa Rowing Stadium (Estádio de Remo da Lagoa).
Architect Vicente Giffoni designed Lagoon Gourmet with a spacious veranda overlooking the lagoon and explored bold elements such as diagonal pilotis and slanted glass windows, which let in an abundance of daylight.
There are four restaurants, all new branches of Rio de Janeiro favorites, and a lounge bar at the 950-square-meter gourmet complex, as well as a cellar with a capacity for 1,800 bottles and a gourmet emporium. A collective, reduced menu with items from all restaurants is served in the veranda.
One of the restaurants is the latest version of Quadrifoglio Caffé, which is also on Rua Dias Ferreira in Leblon and in Barra.
First opened in 2011 as a more laid-back version of the original Quadrifoglio in Jardim Botânico, the cafe has a sustainable philosophy. The furniture at all the branches, designed by Pedro Petry, is made from certified wood; the dishes are by ceramist Hideko Honma, who uses organic raw materials; the waiting staff's aprons are made from recycled plastic bottles.
Various organic ingredients go into the menu, with Italian accents. Among the top hits is a selection of stuzzichini, or Italian tapa-style tidbits (and you can order three of them as a combo, the Stuzzichini Misto. There's the Croccante di Mare, crisp shrimp and squid in aïoli; Carpaccio de mignon alla Salsa Verde; Arancini Al Taleggio, tempura-style arborio rice croquettes with Taleggio cheese and sweet and sour tomato sauce and several other options.
Giuseppe Grill Mar (phone: 55-21-2239-1503), which like Giuseppe Grill Leblon and Laguiole at MAM is one of the restaurants in BestFork Experience, has in its décor walls lined with salvage bricks, a sea-themed mural and a cascade and tables made from Amazon naturally fallen timber.
The restaurant's specialty is seafood. One of the recommended dishes is olho de boi fish with butter and herb sauce and Sicilian lemon rice.
Gula Gula (phone: 55-21-2239-0881; www.gulagula.com.br), with several other branches in Rio, is famous for its salads - the Greek salad is one of the most popular - and grilled meats such as the filet mignon with Gorgonzola.
Pax Delícia (phone: 55-21-2249-8762), from the owners of Emporium Pax, serves a blend of Brazilian and international food, including Japanese cuisine. Pasta salad with arugula pesto, funghi risotto and, for dessert, tapioca couscous with green corn cream, coconut chips and cinnamon ice cream are some of the top picks.
From Lounge Bar San Remo, one of the highlights is the piscinão ("big pool"), a cocktail in several versions consisting of vodka, juice concentrate and fruit and served in generously sized glasses.
At Empório Gourmet Show, you can purchase fine wines and imported foods to go - or sit at one of the tables and order drinks by award-winning barman Daniel with some appetizers - maybe salmon gravad lax, a linguiça potpourri - or more complete meals with dishes such as the chef's duck rice.
The complex also has its own cycling lane, which merges with the one around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.
Lagoa Rowing Stadium:
Built in 1954 from a design by Benedicto Barbosa and heritage-listed in 2005, the stadium was revitalized for the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The R$ 13.2-million works included the deepening of the lanes, the installation of electronic timers and the construction of new boat garages and restrooms and the renovation of the floating pier.
Lagoon Gourmet Hours, Address & Contact Information:
Avenida Borges de Medeiros 1424
Rio de Janeiro - RJ
Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to midnight, Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.