Stanislaw Ponte Preta said that a feijoada is really only complete if you have an ambulance on call. The Star City restaurant, in Santa Cecília, downtown São Paulo, does not require this requirement, as it is located two blocks from the Santa Casa de Misericórdia — a stretcher will solve any emergency.
The house has been in the same spot on Frederico Abranches street since 1962, but it had been operating close by since 1953, on Avenida Angélica, ten years before the opening of the Santa Casa School of Medicine.
It is a living fossil of an almost extinct species: the restaurants that offer feijoada every day, with incessant table service until the customer asks for a break or dies. Of its peers, Gouveia became a pharmacy on Avenida Santo Amaro, but Bolinha, even older, from 1946, resists in Jardim Europa.
A fascinating fact about places like Star City and Bolinha is that, despite being famous for feijoada and only for it, they boast a kilometric menu.
The old restaurant in Santa Cecília serves asparagus cream soup (R$ 45.50), tongue with wood sauce (R$ 68.90), shrimp stroganoff (R$ 108.90), codfish à Gomes de Sá (R$ 90.90) and mixed skewers à la gaúcha (R$ 69.20), among dozens of endangered dishes.
Does anyone cross the doors of Star City to order chicken soup (R$45.50)? Does parisian noodles (R$ 48.20) have a way out?
I do not know. All I know is that I’ve never ordered anything other than feijoada since I started going there, in the late 1980s — or early 1990s, sorry, my memory fades.
It was at Star City that a select group of college ogres would gather for degrading shows of gorging. We were 20 years old, 20-somethings, we used to stare at feijoada even at dinner. Which Star City had.
But there is no more. It still serves feijoada every day for lunch, except for the Monday break, but it stopped opening at night because it was never a nightly hit. It was never a hit at all, by the way.
Ever since I first set foot there 30 years or so ago, the place has radiated lovely decay. Starting with the giant old whiskey bottles, displayed in symmetrical windows that flank the front door. They’re still there, as I could see on my return after a five-year hiatus — information from Google’s spy robot.
There is also the chrome samovar that, on Saturdays, perspired with the ice of the lemon shake included in the feijoca package. However, he is retired. A pity. I loved the cachaça tap.
Next in the room are the solid red synthetic leather benches, the chairs with cloth covers for the back, the fabric napkins folded like origami, the undersized tables for sturdy guys like me.
And most important of all: the waiters of three decades ago continue to work, impeccable in their champagne jackets. Ednaldo has been there since 1986. Seu Luís, a weak memory like mine, came in 1992 or 1993.
It was an especially hot Wednesday. The menu offered the option of choosing feijoada without replacement for R$ 69.90. Not even in a dream: I ordered the complete feijoada with the right to explode from eating so much, for R$89.90. Tradition had to be honored.
Seu Luís said it would take a few minutes to prepare the garnish: cabbage, steak, breaded banana, fried manioc, rice and bacon. For the wait, he brought a tasty bean broth, the milk shake, a tray of crackers and a basket of breadsticks.
In the ambient sound, classics of the mela-cueca international interpreted by a saxophonist that the app Shazam didn’t recognize. As soon as Luís pointed in the distance with the cumbuca bigger than his head, the first chords of “My Heart Will Go On”, theme from the movie “Titanic” sounded. Adequate.
It would be dishonest to say that Star City delivers the best feijoada in São Paulo. It is a very good feijoada, with ups and downs.
The entire contents of the cumbuca pass with flying colors: thick, well-seasoned broth, complete with tail, tongue, foot and ear; tender and plentiful meats, but without stealing the prominence of black beans. Everything was the same as it was before.
On the side dish, there is a lush green cabbage, regular rice, an ok grilled steak and a bit oily fried food. Great chili and bean sauces with spicy vinaigrette. Almost nothing has changed.
Who closed the account was the owner, Milton Buzzo, at the table next to the wall with framed and faded family photos, where he has always been. It’s not an exaggeration. Milton, who was six months old when his parents opened the restaurant, grew up there.
Star City is a time portal to a São Paulo that no longer exists. It is a dreamlike space where everything remains as it always was.
But nothing lasts forever. Go soon if you want to eat a 1953 feijoada.
I am currently a news writer for News Bulletin247 where I mostly cover sports news. I have always been interested in writing and it is something I am very passionate about. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and friends.