10 June 2009
An all-out Meatgasm
As part of my weekend birthday-fest, we met up with my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law at Fogo de Chão. My S-i-L has a birthday at the end of the month so it was more of a co-celebration which made it all the better.
If you're unfamiliar with the Brazilian Churrascaria method of dining, it's best described as the return of Roman gluttony without the presence of an official vomitorium.
After being seated and a drink order taken, you're informed that you can head to the salad bar at any time and that it, as with the main part of the meal is "unlimited". Let me tell you, this isn't any typical Wisconsin supper club sort of salad bar, this one is probably one of the finest in the nation. From hearts of palm to smoked salmon to bufala mozzarella, all of the ingredients presented are of the finest quality, straight from the farmer's market. If I were a vegetarian, I'd be happy with this choice, and as you'll see, it'd be the only part of the night you'd probably need. But if you're there for the meat, do NOT fill up on salad bar stuff. Enjoy one trip and then settle in.
Before you head up to the salad bar, the waiter also lets you know that when you're ready to start the main course/meat course, that you flip over the little coaster shown above to green which means you're ready for men in traditional Brazilian gaucho dress to show up at your table with skewers of 15 different types of meat. When you want to take a break, you just flip it back over to red.
I think, after a few visits to these types of restaurants, I've learned that you just keep it green. Although they do their best to ensure that each type of meat makes it to your table, it's much easier to just turn away the types you don't want (or don't want MORE of) and they don't get offended versus missing out on some of the better cuts of meat that come around.
Top cuts are the top sirloin and the filet. There are various types including some lamb, pork, chicken and beef, but beef is the predominant choice. The gaucho stops at your table and then either slices and servers or, for the larger cuts, slices and then you grab with some mini-tongs while he finishes cutting the meat for your plate.
I believe I set a new record for myself when it comes to consumption and I was indulgently keeping up with every cut that hit my plate. I purposely didn't eat a huge breakfast and had no lunch so that I prepared the passage to the stomach appropriately.
What I always find amusing is that they DO serve some side dishes at the table (also unlimited if you desire) which consist of some fried polenta sticks, sauteéd bananas (like bananas foster w/o the ice cream) and some garlicky mashed potatoes. Frankly, I call them "space fillers" and they have no place at my plate although I do like the polenta.
It's a prix fixe meal except for your drinks and dessert and it's definitely not cheap, but to spin back my roots to the days of the early Romans, it's totally worth it. I know for John and Marie, they left with their stomachs in pain. I felt fine and can't wait to do it again.
There are various chains and a few independents, but having been to several, Fogo puts out the best salad bar and has the tastiest meats. They ALL do a good job, but for me, Fogo is the top of the line.
And with that, it's time to....