I finally made it over to Chamas, the Brazilian steakhouse in Brightleaf Square, Durham. The concept is simple: waiters bring around spits of different meats, and you help yourself to salads, cheeses, and vegetables at the buffet. The restaurant is distinctly attractive, and the food, for a fixed price of $26, is solid. The various meats were tender and the buffet items -- mostly marinated vegetables and cold salads --were flavorful and varied. The food is not especially clever or ambitious, but it hits the spot on a chilly night, and there's an entertaining novelty about the meats bring brough around and being cut from the spit. My favorite items were the little round cheese rolls and the fried sugar-coated bananas (in Brazil, apparently a side-dish rather than a dessert; they would have made perfect bananas foster). Choosing among the meats, I liked the garlic steak and the pork loin.
Be forewarned: drinks and desserts are not included in the total. These extras added $25 to our bill and the desserts were distinctly mediocre: heavy sweet cakes and cheesecakes. Don't bother.
Chamas cannot compare to Udipi and Waraji, where there's real cleverness at work, but it beats most everything else in the neighborhood. I'd much rather go to Chamas than a comparably priced, but less interesting restaurant like Squids. We'll definitely be quarterly customers.
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