My husband and I went to Fogo De Chao in Beverly Hills last night, and the place was as busy as busy could be. Our reservations were for 6:00PM, and we checked in slightly late (about five minutes). We had a short 10 minute wait, and headed over to the bar for pre-dinner drinks. I had the caprihina which was completely refreshing with strong hints of lime. My husband just had a vodka tonic. We were seated shortly after getting our drinks in the dining room that was buzzing.
Once they gave us a rundown on how dinner works, we set off for the salad bar. I'm a cheese fiend and was quite happy to see the fresh mozzarella and the huge wheel of parmiggiano reggiano. There's something special about fresh parm...tastes so much better than pieces that have been cut and sitting there for days before its purchased. I found myself to be a fan of the marinated shiitake mushrooms...I loved the vinagery brine they had. I know blanched asparagus might not be anything special, but it paired so well with the fresh cuts of meat off of the skewers. There was a selection of salami, prosciutto, and smoked salmon...which were more okay than good.
The table-served sides for last night were garlic mashed potatoes, crispy-fried polenta cakes, fried bananas, and the famous cheese rolls. I tasted a litte of each because I didn't want to fill up on the starches, and thought they were all good. The mashed potatoes were ordinary to me...I could have made that at home. I did enjoy the polenta cakes...very crispy, not too dense, and I liked the sprinkling of grated parm on top of the cakes...made for a salty, nutty finish. I love fried bananas/plantains...whatever or however you call them, and this was a very good rendition; however, I wish they had fried them longer to get more carmelization and a crisper crust for texture. The cheese rolls didn't do it for me...I don't understand what the big fuss is all about. They were light, but dense...they had some sort of cheesy flavor. They crust of the roll was nice...but they didn't wow me. Maybe perhaps I didn't eat them immediately when they arrived at the table so they're not as wonderful cooled or cold, but everytime they arrived, I was busy eating the delicious meat.
Now to the meat...truly the best Brazilian steakhouse that I've ever been to. The cuts of beef are all black Angus. One of the managers told us that the men serving the meat are also the chefs, who come in early to marinate the meat in the morning before returning back to the restaurant to cook later in the day. We also learned that the beef receives just a light coating of Brazlian salt in the morning, and a little bit more prior to placing it on the fire. My husband fell in love with the filet mignon cut, and the sirloin cuts, and the sausages, and the lamb, and the chicken....okay, so there wasn't much that he didn't love. But he did not enjoy the ribeye (I agreed) which was strange because that's our favorite cut of steak. It was cooked well enough (medium rare for me, medium for him) but didn't have a bold, beefy flavor we were looking for. We did not enjoy the filet wrapped in bacon because even though cooked to perfection, the smokiness of the bacon completely overshadowed the filet. Bacon was good, however, when wrapped around chicken breast...but we still preferred the dark meat chicken over the bacon-wrapped one. I also loved the filet, but loved the lamb (chops and leg) even more. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, it was seasoned very well and very lamby...in a very good way. The only thing we did not have a chance to try was the prime rib cut because we were quite full by the time it was brought around the dining room...which at that point, was fine by us.
For dessert, my husband was completely jazzed that key lime pie was one of the offerings of the night. I had the papaya cream drizzled with Bols liqueur. The third choice was flan, but I had the flan a couple doors down at The Bazaar was so spectacular I don't think anything else could come close. The key lime pie was not key lime-y enough for my husband. He did not want a sour-pucker face, but wanted the depth of flavor from the pie. There was a heavy layer of whipped cream on the pie as well, but the key lime flavor was already so weak eating without whipped cream did not make much of a difference. I was quite happy with my papaya cream. A lot like ice cream, it had a good papaya flavor and the shot of Bols gave it a nice jolt. It was a nice palate cleanser for a night of heavy carnivore-style eating.
Service for the night was spectacular. Vitor, our server, mentioned that they were short-staffed for the night and we couldn't tell the difference. The waitstaff was always busy scurrying through the restaurant taking care of guests. Many times, Vitor came to our table to ask if we had any special meat requests to be delivered. The sides were refreshed without us needing to request it....even if there was only 1/4 of a ramekin left. Water glasses were refilled without request, and any extra plates were cleared away immediately. We were very impressed with the service, and found it to almost rival the service we received at Bouchon (Bouchon was significantly better and quicker at refilling water glasses) in November.