People go to Cafe Brasil for lots of reasons: the selection of coffee, wine, and beer; the shaded front patio; the stylish interior; etc. Food has always been on that list, too, but, despite its status as a Montrose institution, dining has always played for a more of a secondary role in the cafe’s appeal.
That could all be changing thanks to a new chef. Recently, German Mosquera has assumed control of the kitchen. It’s a sort of homecoming for the veteran chef, who earned wide praise around town from 2012 to 2014 for his work at Roots Bistro and Restaurant Cinq at La Colombe d’Or, but has spent the last few years out of a kitchen running a juice bar and teaching yoga.
Mosquera tells CultureMap he built a relationship with Brasil owner Dan Fergus by holding occasional pop-ups at the cafe and seeing him at the weekly Urban Harvest farmers market. Over a series of conversations, they decided to work together.
“At the end of the juice bar, there were a couple of places I could’ve gone to, but what I’ve always liked about Cafe Brasil is that, one, it’s been around for awhile,” Mosquera says. “I like this fast casual environment and what’s possible with this space. They’ve got a great crew, and a good team overall.”
Mosquera and Fergus have started with Brasil’s breakfast menu. Changes include replacing oatmeal with a bowl of cold-soaked oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and strawberries and a new grapefruit brûlée filled with almond milk-based pastry cream. A new lunch menu featuring more salads will roll out this week, followed by an evening menu built around pizzas, burgers, and tamales. Dishes will also utilize locally sourced ingredients.
Although the chef gave up vegan eating three years ago, he’s still sensitive to people with special dietary needs. Many dishes utilize ingredients like nut milks or non-wheat flours to create dishes that are dairy or gluten-free. Mosquera says he’s particularly proud of his new English muffin, which uses cashew-based buttermilk and vegan butter; from there, he plans to create a vegan Benedict with cauliflower hollandaise sauce.
The chef says that customers have reacted favorable to the changes. They’re ordering the new dishes, and he’s selling out of one-off dinner specials like Brazilian pork with fried rice and vegetarian pasta. Those dishes can even be paired with cocktails; the cafe quietly added a full liquor license last year.
Ultimately, his ambitions extend beyond helping the 25-year-old cafe earn a few new customers. He points out that Turkey & the Wolf, a casual sandwich shop in New Orleans, earned a James Beard Award nomination and the title of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurant in America. It will take more than a vegan English muffin to earn that kind of acclaim — admittedly, it is a pretty good start — but Mosquera has never been shy about aiming high.