After a week in Brazil, one can surmise that Brazilians like their breakfasts big. Unlike Parisians, who begin their days with just a coffee and a tartine or a croissant, our morning meal has consistently included the following:
The titular coffee in Café de Manha
Juice (Usually orange, sometimes much more exotic)
Cakes and/or pastries
And miscellaneous regional breakfast dishes (e.g. tapioca crepes in the Northeast made of cassava flour)
For a lavish breakfast in Rio de Janeiro, one can visit Confeiteria Colombo in Centro Historico. The gorgeously decorated café/restaurant has been serving snacks and meals to Rio’s high society since the turn of the 20th century, who enjoyed their buttery pastries and rich desserts in a beautiful belle epoque setting. “It’s the Brazilian equivalent of Laduree”, I told my husband on the way to the café, but in fact, it would have been more accurate to associate it with the much larger, more ostentatiously decorated grand brasseries a la as Café de la Paix. The main room, with its soaring walls, Tiffany glass ceiling dome, antique wall fans my father-in-law would die to have, oversized Belgian mirrors and dark wood glass displays laden with sweet and savory treats preserved that old-time elegance and grace, only marred by the presence of us camera-toting tourists in shabby rags.
With such transporting ambience, we would have excused Confeiteria Colombo even if it sold slag for coffee. Thankfully that was not the case, and the food we sampled was beautifully plated and equally tasty. We shared a breakfast (consisting of all of the above) and a savory puff filled with ham, cheese and prunes. We were most impressed with the brioche toasts called torrador, thick but light, lightly toasted with butter melting right into the middle of the toast such that butter oozed at every bread. For an even more substantial breakfast, our neighbors urged us to order the tea set instead (served at all hours), that included a basket of dainty little cakes and pastries and looked positively sinful. Too bad we had ordered before our neighbors decided to befriend us.
For travelers insistent on an authentic experience, Confeiteria Colombo may seem too much like a tourist trap. But if a slice of deliciously edible history is what you’re looking for, one should definitely make it there!
Address: Rua Gonçalves Dias, 32, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil