Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fogo de Chão

This afternoon we had our end of the (fiscal) year event for my boss's organization: lunch at Fogo de Chão. I had never been there before, which isn't too surprising since it just opened a week ago in Minneapolis. It was quite an experience.

Fogo is a Brazilian restaurant using a variation on the buffet concept, with a flat fee per meal and then you can eat as much as you want. They have a very large salad bar that had cheeses, cured meats, dried and stewed peppers, vegetables, as well as spinach and caesar salads.

The salad bar is just a side show however, to the main focus of the restaurant: the meats.

Basically what happens is you sit at your table and have a little cardboard disc sitting in front of you that is red on one side and green on the other. When you have the green side up the servers come out with any of 16 different meats on large skewers and offer slices to you. When you've had enough for a little while you turn the disc back over to red and try to digest a little before the next spear of succulent meat comes by that you can't resist.

I tried a good variety of the meats (excepting the lamb, which I didn't see the point of filling up with since I don't particularly care for it). Everything I had was delicious. The rib-eye was probably my favorite as it was cooked absolutely to perfection. There was a tasty outer coating and tender juicy meat on each piece. The beef ribs were also spectacular, so tender the meat was practically falling off the bone. Plus the beef ribs got points for being something you don't just cook up at home. The house special prime-rib was very good as well.

To accompany the meats, they have cheesy bread, mashed potatoes, fried bananas and polenta. The sides were good, but nothing particularly special.

As if the rest of the meal wasn't enough to fill you up, they had a lengthy list of tasty-sounding deserts. I had a Chocolate Molten cake (which was good), but the Papaya cream desert was supposedly fantastic as well.

The amazing part of whole experience is the hands-on service you get. We had a party of 31, and there must have been 10 different people working the two tables: filling drinks, replacing half-eaten sides with fresh hot ones, offering meats, exchanging plates, etc.

The only somewhat bad aspect of Fogo de Chão was how much you end up eating. It was tough to pass up trying all the 16 varieties of meats, let along the deserts or some of the crazy things on the salad bar. I didn't eat as much as some people, but I still came home feeling bloated and weighing almost 4 pounds more then I had before breakfast. And I didn't even eat dinner.

The other bad thing about Fogo is the price. It is $23 a person for lunch and closer to $40 a person for dinner. That's not that outrageous considering all the food you get, but I believe drinks are extra and priced per-glass and desert may not be included, so it can get a little pricey. In my case, since work was paying for it, it didn't really matter.

Anyway it was a really fun experience, and I highly recommend trying Fogo de Chão at least once just to see what it is like. It was really unlike any other restaurant I have been to.

[ Update: I talked with my co-worker who signed for the bill at our lunch. Drinks were indeed priced per glass, $2 for an 8-oz bottle of soda, $2.50 for a can of Brazilian ginger ale. Deserts were extra as well and ranged in price from $5.50 to $7 or so. Basically only the meat, side dishes and salad bar is included in the base price. ]


Moe said...

Cool, my friends went to the one in Chicago a few years ago and have been talking about it ever since. I can't wait to try it

Bill Roehl said...

The other bad thing about Fogo is the price. It is $23 a person for lunch and closer to $40 a person for dinner.

Obviously I haven't been there but with the higher end Minnesota steakhouses offering steak entrees starting at $35 - $40, I would guess that this is a pretty damn good deal.

Steve Eck said...

Moe, I figured it would be right up your alley.

Bill, I guess I was saying it is expensive relative to the types of places I normally eat at. It certainly isn't as expensive relative to a high-end steak place. But I don't eat at high-end places very often...

Bill Roehl said...

Steve, neither do I :(