It's called camarao na moranga ($19.99), or pumpkin with shrimp. It's a whole pumpkin, or sometimes an acorn squash, with the top cut off jack-o'-lantern-style, filled with shrimp and creamy curry sauce, and baked. Stuffed pumpkin is a traditional dish served in Rio de Janeiro, but the owner of Barracuda Bar and Seafood added curry.
Barracuda, which turns 2 in May , is Wilma Andrade's first restaurant. But she's an entrepreneur at heart and an accomplished home cook. Most of the dishes here are from Andrade's home kitchen, but she rarely cooks at the restaurant, aside from dreaming up specials and making desserts. Her flan is outrageous. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Andrade wanted to create a restaurant that would not only appeal to Brazilians, but to anyone interested in good food — especially seafood. That pumpkin is one of the best sellers. So is a traditional Brazilian fish stew called moqueca de peixe ($18.99), a combination of coconut milk, tomatoes, shrimp, cod and bright-red dende oil, which not only gives the stew its redness but gives the stew a sweet-and-spicy flavor. It's a kind of palm oil. The stew arrives in a big clay pot that Andrade brought back from a trip to Brazil.
We started our meal with very un-Brazilian frito misto ($8.49), flash-fried calamari and shrimp served with fra diavolo sauce and lemon-basil aioli. Crab-cake brulee ($3.95), another of Andrade's inventions, is a combination of lump crab and Mornay sauce baked in a shell. This rich dip goes a long way. So do the Portuguese steamed clams and mussels ($10.95) in a white-wine-garlic sauce that's dotted with crispy chorizo. It's served with incredible bread for dipping.
There are several savory Brazilian pastries ($1.50 to $1.90 each) on the menu that I understand are very popular at Barracuda on Sunday nights, when the samba music is loud, and the beer and caipirinhas are plentiful. (The restaurant is rightfully famous for its caipirinhas — traditional, lemon and passion fruit.) Among the pastries is one called coxinha, fried potato cakes filled with chicken and cream cheese. The combination works perfectly. We also had crab-filled empanadas that were crispy on the outside and creamy inside. Try the Brazilian hot sauce that comes with the pastries.
The only appetizer we didn't like was seared-black sesame tuna ($8.49). Maybe these cold slices of tuna atop organic greens didn't stand a chance against all the interesting food on the table.
Several burgers and sandwiches are on the menu, such as a 10-ounce sirloin and short-rib LeBron burger ($10.99); a Bossa Nova burger ($11.99) topped with serrano ham, bacon and a fried egg; and a chicken sandwich ($9.95) that starts with a tequila-lime marinade. You can be as adventurous as you want at Barracuda.
The 65-seat restaurant is next to a dive shop and a 7-Eleven. It's called Barracuda because Andrade wanted the name of a sea creature that worked in both English and Portuguese. The plastic chairs look familiar from the IKEA catalog, but the dining room does have a certain kind of bohemian cool about it. The night we dined, a wonderful guitarist played bossa nova and popular Brazilian music, or what Brazilians call MPB. He plays on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A pop-rock band performs on Thursdays and Fridays, and the big samba blowout takes place on Sundays. Since the restaurant is small, I'd plan my dinner at Barracuda accordingly.
I'd also leave room for Andrade's flan ($4.50), which is so much thicker and creamier than many Cuban flans, I wondered if there was cream cheese in this version. We also loved the tart passion-fruit mousse ($4.50).
If Brazilian food and hospitality are new to you, Barracuda is a perfect introduction.
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Barracuda Bar and Seafood
1965 NE Second St., Deerfield Beach
Hours: Dinner Tuesday-Sunday, lunch Thursday-Sunday, closed Mondays
Reservations: Strongly suggested on weekends.
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Conversational even with the guitar player; loud on Sundays
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Highchairs, menu
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot