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Chima in Ft. Lauderdale

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Chima in Ft. Lauderdale

JmVikmanis | Dec 28, 2003 09:15 AM

We tried this place on Friday night and will undoubtedly be going again and again. It only opened in October (and has yet to be reviewed in any of the FLL press as far as I can tell, though it's been mentioned in the Miami Herald) and it's fabulous. It's on Las Olas Blvd in the space formerly occupied by Il Tortufo and before that by the Banyan Tree--just west of the Intracoastal. The entry is stunning, with torches and water-spilling pots and two giant banyan trees, lit up and surrounded by tropical foliage. Can't understand why they don't serve outside in this beautiful setting, but they reserve it for before and after dinner drinks and presumably smoking. The place is billed as a Brazilian steakhouse and the concept has been imported from Brazil but I'm told there are similar places in New York, called churrascerias (sp?). At any rate, the idea is meat, meat and more meat. There is no menu and the food is a set price--$20 for the buffet alone and $40 for the buffet plus the featured meat. Each diner is presented a plastic token, black on one side and orange on the other. After starting with the buffet table which has some pretty decent offerings, like carpaccio, parma ham, and lots of salads and sauces and cold veggies--including hearts of palm, you give up your plate and get another to place on it some beans and rice and turn your token to orange for the waiters clad as gauchos in boots and fat legged pants to know you're ready to sample their offerings. They will then arrive at your table, one at a time, holding upright skewers of various perfectly grilled meats--several different cuts of beef which have been marinated in various sauces, pork loin in bacon, chicken legs, chicken breast, lamb chops, lamb leg, pork ribs, and brazilian sausages as well as a plate of nicely done salmon with mustard sauce. The servers carve off a slice or piece of whatever meat they are carrying and you place it on your plate with tongs. They then return the meat to the fire for more roasting. Everything was perfectly done and nicely spiced and very warm. Excellent, not just for Atkins dieters but for carnivores everywhere. We were also served a small bowl of buttery mashed potatoes for the table, along with an excellent spinach topped with cheddar cheese and "bottomed" with a tomato salsa. The food was overall pretty terrific and beautifully served. There is an excellent international winelist. We enjoyed an Argentinian Malbec and a Spanish Rioja. The interior of the place is decorated in a classy, understated style with rooms and tables separated by thin curtains and wooden wine displays. It's an excellent venue for both large party groups and intimate special occasion dinners. I think the whoop of excitement at a nearby table signalled an engagement. Even if you're already engaged, or married or any other thing, if you like good food in a great setting, you can't help but like this place. It's a real addition to the FLL dining scene and a great incarnation of a wonderful natural setting.

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