Restaurant review: Zico’s, Morrison St, Edinburgh

Zico's�Grill Bar. 97-101 Morrison Street, Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna
Zico's�Grill Bar. 97-101 Morrison Street, Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna
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“WHAT kind of place doesn’t have an online menu?” said my friend Mercy.

“Well, exactly,” I thought, before our lunch-hour trip to this Brazilian eatery.

After all, one of my hobbies is poring over cyber menus, deciding what I’m going to have, then revising my decision, eventually settling on something that I’ll change my mind about when I get to the restaurant.

The lack of food list on their Facebook page became obvious when we rocked up here. It turns out that all customers purchase a one-way ticket to the churrascaria rodizio experience (£9.95 per person).

At Zico’s, this consists of a preliminary trip to the buffet, followed by a rotating succession of meats, which are cooked on their charcoal barbecue and brought to your table, where they are carved.

Each diner is given a coaster – green on one side, to signify that you’re willing to proceed with the protein itinerary, and red on the other, for emergency stop.

There is no cap on your gluttony – as the legend outside proclaims; “Eat as much as you like and pay one price”.

We loosened our corsets and bagged a table at the back of this clementine-coloured space, with a non carnival-like view of a drizzly garden. Then, straight up to the buffet, with our white plates clasped in excitedly sweaty hands.

Here, we discovered a selection of hot stuff, with vats of skinny fries, broccoli, white rice, beefy rice, creamy beef stroganoff (a Brazilian variation, with mushrooms, carrots and peas), plus a tankful of soupy black beans (with cassava flour to sprinkle on the top).

The cold offerings reminded me of my last visit to a Pizza Hut salad bar, back in the late Eighties.

Among other treats, there were tomato segments, iceberg lettuce leaves, olives, pickled beetroot with that waffle ridged, straight-out-of-a-jar finish, a sort-of Waldorf salad without the Waldorfs (I like to imagine that they’re the walnuts), gherkins, an onion-heavy salsa and whole green jalapeños.

I won’t beat around the Brazilian bush, nothing was that thrilling. The “hot” options were okay but, sadly, barely tepid, and the cold bits were fresh enough, but pretty unoriginal. Anyway, this was surely all just garnish for the main event. Meat.

The first option to hit our table, surprisingly, was a giant skewer of fat bangers. “Pork and leek sausage?” said our friendly server. We nodded obediently. These weren’t the paprika and garlic-flavoured authentic linguica that you might expect, but they were nicely sweet and sticky skinned.

Post-sausie and the meaty mega-mix began to gather momentum, with a different option making an appearance every three minutes or so.

These were as follows:

Silverside beef chunks – a bit gristly.

Chicken wings – crispy-skinned and springy-fleshed, yes.

Pork – very salty, soft, good.

Beef – tight, like a stale loaf that you’d feed to carnivorous ducks, chewy.

Honey-roast gammon – not bad, salty-sweet, crispy crust.

Cinnamon-sprinkled pineapple – excellent palate cleanser, and we imagined that the enzymes in this fruit would break down some of the meat in our intestines, hooray.

Chicken hearts, x 4 – bouncy and irony, though Mercy was repelled when I pointed out the atrium and ventricle holes.

And then silverside beef came round again, like when an album automatically replays, and you find you’re once again listening to I Am a Cider Drinker (track one on The Wurzels Collection).

Time to turn the coaster to red.

There are only three “Deserts” (sic) here, you’ll find them underneath “Soft Wrinks”. We went for Brazilian-style flan (£3.95) and chocolate boeno pavé (£4.95). The latter, presented in a sundae glass, was a custardy trifle, layered with whipped cream, macerated ladyfinger biscuits and cocoa powder, while, the former was a rectangular variation on crème caramel, with plenty of toasty sweet sauce. Very nice.

The human body is usually composed of 60 per cent water, but after that feast, Mercy and I imagined that we were hewn from 93 per cent meat.

If you enjoy that feeling – and many do – then get your one-way ticket at Zico’s (no need to look at a menu).

• Zico’s | 97-101 Morrison Street, Edinburgh (0131-478 1222) | Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £28.80