Probably the most famous type of Brazilian restaurant outside of Brazil is the churrascaria, a type of Brazilian steak house. However, what sets them apart from other types of steak houses is their ‘rodizio’ style service, whereby you pay a fix price and the waiters bring different types and cuts of meat to your table, usually on a large skewer or knife throughout the meal until the customer has signalled that they have had enough.
Not surprisingly the Brazilian churrascaria has proven to be hugely popular throughout the world and today you will find churrascarias in most major international cities. One of the better known restaurants outside of Brazil, is Fogo de Chão, as they have several restaurants throughout the US.
They also have a restaurant here in Brasilia and after two month of living in Brazil, C and I decided that it was almost scandalous that we had yet to go. So on Friday, C and I went for a steak night…um, I mean date night!
Fogo de Chão is located in the hotel section of Brasilia and is one of the more expensive restaurants in town, however the food and atmosphere is fantastic, so if you find yourself in Brasilia, I highly suggest that you spend at least one evening here.
The restaurant itself is simple and straight forward with an open layout and minimally decorated, the main emphasis is focused on the food and the passadores (meat waiters). The passadores wear the traditional South American cowboy or ‘gaucho’ style dress of shirts, baggy trousers, boots and belt with a pistol holster! Not to mention all that wonderful meat they carry around with them!! Ooh that sounded a bit raunchy!
At the entrance of the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by an open fire-pit with four large skewers of beef ribs being roasted giving you the sense of the place, and by the friendly Maitre D’ who showed us to our table. We had reservations for 8pm and the restaurant was just beginning to fill up. Once you are seated everything seems to happen quite quickly. Immediately warm pão de queijo is placed on your table and the passadores start streaming by tempting you with what they have to offer. It’s slightly overwhelming as I wanted to try EVERYTHING but where to start?
It was time to get organised. First, we went to the salad bar, where they have such a vast array of wonderful and varied looking options, such as cold meats cheeses, olives and vegetables I think I could come back to Fogo de Chão just for the salad!
Then it was time to flip the coaster!
Like in most churrascarias abroad, you get a little coaster, green on one side and red on the other. When the the green side facing up, the passadores will come by and immediately serve you, however if you have the red side facing up, they will politely walk past your table, until you are ready for more.
C and I tried everything that came our way, roasted chicken hearts, numerous cuts of beef, sausages, and various lamb cut. It all tasted phenomenal. The salt and herb seasoning that is used coupled with the technique of roasting meat over coal and open fire creates a taste and a tenderness that is impossible to create at home.
Furthermore the way they serve the meat is unexpectedly delicate. I had imagined the passadores to cut off huge hunks of meat and place them on my plate in a very ‘cave man’ sort of way, but in reality, you are given a little tong and the passadores will cut a little nick in the meat which you then hold with your tongs, and they proceed to cut a sliver off the meat which you then place on your own plate.
The only aspect of dinner that did not live up to expectation was the chocolate mousse that C and I shared for dessert – it was far too large and heavy to end the meal with, and it was lacking that intense ‘chocolatey’ flavour that I crave, but like C say’s, you don’t come to Fogo de Chão for dessert!
Whether you go as a couple or in a group, the atmosphere in the restaurant is jovial and the waiters are incredibly polite and attentive which all makes for a wonderful way of spending an evening. If you are in Brasilia and looking for a fun way to spend the evening, head on over to Fogo de Chão and I promise you won’t be disappointed.