Just a follow up to my last post that Agora is indeed offering 50% off the cost of food for now. They're not advertising it, but I suppose they'll pleasantly surprise their patrons with this discount until they get the kind of volume they want. Seems to be working, as it's a fairly large restaurant with tons of seating and was about 75% full when I went tonight.
Thoughts on the food:
MEAT: High quality. Beef prepared as it should be, i.e., nice crust going straight to medium rare with true rare inside. The selection tonight: tri-tip, top sirloin, filet mignon, filet mignon wrapped with bacon, pork tenderloin, pork tenderloin w/ parmiggiano, lamb chops, chicken drums, chicken hearts and pork sausage. I stuck with the beef tonight, and every beef cut I had was excellent. Oh, I did pop a few chicken hearts, and those were good as well. NOTHING WAS OVERCOOKED. That is such a rarity these days - I was pleased.
ROUGHAGE: If I recall correctly, here's what I saw tonight, all of it fresh and high quality: watercress, (very peppery) arugula, artichoke hearts, (good) hearts of palm, mesclun greens, caprese, roasted red and yellow bells, marinated shiitakes, a very good pico de gallo, cornichons, nice, crisp pickled jalapenos, tomato and onion salad, green been and red onion salad, pickled radish, tuna salad, potato salad and finally, stuff that looked initially like chunks of beeswax which on second glance turned out to be a nice, mild, nutty parmiggiano crumbled in pieces within the wheel. Oh - a cold cut tray, too, with some salami and salsichon type meats, but I thought that was kind of unnecessary.
HOT FOODS: Good, if a little uninspired. Well done rice (not as in overcooked, but as in perfectly cooked and seasoned), feijoada, something that looked like chicken stroganoff, creamy mashed potatoes, some type of creamy chowder, a salmon dish and a couple of other things I forget right now. One thing I've enjoyed at other churrascarias is the rabo (oxtail) stew and tongue stew and such. Maybe they decided that kind of stuff is just a little too interesting for the Irvine business crowd.
DESSERTS: Flan, cheesecake, tiramisu, various sorbets including mango, chocolate mousse cake. Had the tiramisu and mango sorbet. Mango sorbet was quite good. Tiramisu was alright, but I've had far better. (But you don't really go for the dessert, do you?)
WINE: Where wine is concerned, I'm a complete novice and only know what I like to drink so have no qualification to comment on the wine list, but it did appear that there was quite a bit of variety.
BEER: Decent selection of bottled beers including a Brazilian beer I did not try.
SERVICE: Our server was earnest if a little unsure. B+ for effort, B for execution. He was by no means slammed but looked overwhelmed. The "gauchos" were charming and friendly and much better at their jobs than our server was at his. There were quite a few attractive women there tonight, so I imagined as I watched them slicing and serving, that they were wondering if they'd be able to get some action despite those silly pants they have to wear... (or maybe BECAUSE of those pants... hmmm...)
At the regular price of $35 per person, not including beverages or desserts, the quality and preparation of the beef itself ALMOST have me, but to bring me back repeatedly, I'd like to see a little more interesting fare in the side bars.
Of course at the current 50% off, it is definitely worth your while to get down and have a gander.
Off topic, drove by Russell's Seafood in the same center on my way out and found out they have karaoke on Saturday nights. I don't know how the food is, but I just might go next Saturday 'cause I do LOVE me a good drunken karaoke experience.