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Monday, January 10, 2011

New Place Report - Fogo De Chao

I have to say before I start telling you about this place I can feel the love if you can call it love spilling out from my fingertips... Maybe it's adoration or excitement of just being able to share with you how wonderful this place truly is. 

(A funny backstory is the fact that I had actually been inside of Fogo De Chao before, and did not make it to a table.  It was a Friday evening and the person responsible for making reservations failed to do so, and there was an hour wait.  Our party did not feel like waiting so we left and enjoyed a different place that evening.  I was so sad that I had been so close.  But little did I know in the future about a year later I would get my opportunity.) 

My wonderful mother decided that she wanted to take our little immediate family to Fogo De Chao, and boy am I glad she made up her mind to do so.  In attendance were my husband, my brother, my brother's girlfriend, my mom, and I. 

Upon arriving and entering we were seated almost immediately.  The atmosphere of the place is bustling and exciting.  You can tell by the decor that it is an upscale version of the traditional Brazilian Churrascaria.  Before we get to the experience let me tell you more about what a Churrascaria is.  The word Churrascaria means Steakhouse or at least is loosely translated as such.  The type of cooking is actually called Churrasco which is in Brazil the term for Barbecue.  The difference between our Barbecue and theirs pretty much consists of the fact that they cook everything on skewers over coals, versus us who use a grill grate between our food and our fires. 

Now that you are caught up to speed on exactly what all those funny sounding terms mean let's go back to the restaurant.  As you get settled in at your table the Maitre d' explains the process to you.  You have a round card to use at your discretion; one side is red and the other green.  A pretty simple concept if you ask me.  If you want the gaucho chefs to bring you meat then turn your card to the green side and a plethora of meats will be whisked your way.  They will let you know what they are carrying on their spit, and you simply discern whether you would like that type of meat at that very moment or not.  One other heads up I have to give you is most of the meats just get a little cut and are slid straight onto your plate, but there are those few where they start to slice and you are supposed to clutch onto them with tongs that are provided to you.  It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the rythum down you become a seasoned pro at doing your part of the dance.  The Maitre d' also informs you that the salad bar is in the center of the restaurant containing various salads, cheeses, cold meats, and salmon.  They also ask you whether you would like sparkling water or spring water.  Beware I believe both of these options are extra hits to the pocket book.  Thankfully on this visit my sister-in-law said we would like to have regular water. 

While going to the salad bar the direction you are supposed to start at is clearly marked though some like everywhere you go are rebels and try to start at the wrong spot or go in the opposite direction.  The only critique I have about the salad bar is that there should be labels.  You can fancy up some labels I promise.  It is hard to try new things when you are guessing what they might be from the beginning.  I had to ask one of the salad bar attendants what a few things were.  To give my opinion on some of the salad bar items I would first have to speak with you about the salmon.  I can't tell you how much I love smoked salmon.  It is one of the most delicious flavors I have tasted in my life.  The salmon on the salad bar is smoked and very yummy.  I also love the fact that they had tabbouleh which is a salad of sorts that has Lebanese origins which I thought came from Greece that consists of cracked wheat, tomato, parsley, mint, onion, lemon juice, and olive oil.  I have had this in the past pared with salmon and loved it.  Typically pita bread is how you would eat this lovely mixture, but there was not one in sight so I became inventive.  They had large fresh lettuce pieces so I made a Greek lettuce wrap with the tabbouleh and smoked salmon.  To die for!!  Besides my favorite little snack I created there is also fresh mozzarella, various vegetables, salads, aged parmesan, and cold meats.  One of the prepared salads I also enjoyed was their chicken salad.  Very good and worth a little spot in your stomach along the way. 

Meanwhile back at the table the servers have brought our drinks and as well placed the three side dishes that are unlimited for us to enjoy.  The three sides are crispy hot polenta (which tastes like a milder form of corn bread with in my opinion a better texture, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but keep in mind I'm not a huge corn bread person so take that for what you will), garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas (which I'm not a fan of hot bananas so you will have to go there and try them yourselves),  and a warm cheese bread authentic to Brazil called pão de queijo(the bread is a little different than I am used to, but I really thought at first they just like the middle of their bread doughy in Brazil, but after perusing the internet after my visit I realized it must have been the cheese and not uncooked dough I was experiencing.)

My sister-in-law gave the phrase of the night she said "I don't want for anything."  I couldn't have put it better myself.  Let me go in to detail on how this occurs.  As I mentioned before you have the gaucho chefs that bring you your meat and the Maître d' that is watching how everything is going at every table, but besides these people you have various other waiters and servers that are taking care of your every whim.  If you take a drink of your refreshment and it becomes below a certain level they are there to refill it, if you drop your napkin before you can pick it up and put it back in your lap they are there with a new one, and of course if one of your pieces of silverware happens to fall again they are there before you could think about getting it to place it back upon the table.  During our particular meal my husband dropped his napkin and like I said they were like lighting in giving him a new one and whisking the old one away, and a little bit later during the meal my brother's napkin didn't even really fall completely on the floor it had slid down his legs and towards his feet.  He thought he was being smooth and gently pulling the napkin back to its rightful place and before he could get it sneakily back into his lap a server was there with a new one.  I have to be honest here it is a little intimidating if you are not used to so many people watching you to make sure that everything is going smoothly and there are no issues during the course of your meal. 

Now that I've let you know about the salad bar, the way the process works, and the side dishes you get to enjoy let's get down to the most important thing about this restaurant the MEAT!!!  They have 11 plus types of meats that get brought to your table.  I say plus because some of the meats are the same type of meat prepared in a different way.  On their website they have the Portuguese words for the meat, but when they come to your table they do not use them, which I am glad of, because you would not at any point know what type of meat you were eating.  Here come the meats...  Top Sirloin (My second favorite) which they also call their House Sirloin (Picanha), Filet Mignon (My personal favorite) which you can also get bacon wrapped, Rib Eye (Beef Ancho), Top Sirloin (Alcatra), Bottom Sirloin (Fraldinha), Beef Ribs (Costela), Lamb which you can get in chop form or sliced right off the leg which is my personal preference (Cordeiro), Chicken which comes both as a leg lightly seasoned or a breast wrapped in bacon (Frango), Pork Ribs (Costela de Porco), Pork Loin which is encrusted which parmesan cheese yum! (Lombo), and Brazilian Sausage (Linguica).  Please keep in mind that all these delicious smelling meats are constantly passing by you and filling the whole restaurant with a smell like no other. 

After you have had your fill of unlimited salad bar, side dishes, and meats you may or may not even be able to think about dessert.  While we were there however we took the opportunity to experience the full experience and ordered some dessert.  I enjoyed their crème brûlée which was very delectable; at some restaurants when they give you this dessert the portion is very small, but not here.  I would almost say it would be plenty to share, almost :o).  The other desserts that they offer are a South Americn Flan, Turtle Cheesecake, Molten Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie, and their signature dessert is their Papaya Cream which comes in various flavors. 

Well I hope that you have enjoyed my opinion of this wonderful place, and I hope that you get to visit there soon if you haven't been. 

Fogo De Chao's Website


  1. I have considered taking my husband to Fogo De Chao, but we have never gone. Good to read your review and insights.

    1. It is definitely a place to take a guy! Seriously though you have to try the salmon! It's soooo good! :o)