Friday, January 31, 2014

Fogo de Chão

*Sponsored Post
The Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão (fo-go dèe shoun) began sharing the gaucho way of preparing meat in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1979. Today, the restaurant has expanded across the U.S. with gaucho chefs that expertly grill 16 cuts of meat and offer a continuous tableside service.  I recently visited the DC restaurant in the historic Evening Star building in Penn Quarter. A Beaux-Arts style façade invites guests into a space featuring large murals depicting ranch life in Southern Brazil.   Closest Metro is Federal Triangle.

When we arrived, we were first seated and offered a beverage while the staff explained the Fogo® dining experience.  Then, we helped ourselves to the gourmet salad and sides bar. Over 30 items are available including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes.

There were so many options to choose from that I wanted to sample a little bit of each.  I loaded my plate with beet salad, cheeses, zucchini, mushrooms, chicken salad, pasta salad, as well as hot coconut haddock and roasted potatoes.  Keith made two trips to the self-service bar, but I was satisfied with my one big plate.

When we were ready for tableside service, we turned our card green side up, signaling the gaucho chefs to come by our table with an assortment of delectable fire roasted meats.  If we saw something we liked, we pointed it out, and they sliced and served us the pieces we wanted.  When we needed a break, we simply flipped the disc to the red side until we were ready for more offerings.

The meal includes limitless service of traditional Brazilian side dishes, including: pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas.

I loved the pão de queijo! 

Keith's favorite steak was the signature Picanha - a prime cut of top sirloin. The picanha cut is very popular in the churrascarias of Southern Brazil, and Fogo prepares picanha two different ways: with a traditional light seasoning, and a more robust garlic seasoned version.  He also tried the filet mignon wrapped in baconBeef ancho, a cut from the prime part of the rib eye; Alcatra, a special cut of top sirloin originating in the steakhouses of Southern Brazil; very tender Costela or beef ribs; and Cordeiro or lamb.

Linguica and Frango.
I tried the Frango or chicken, which was offered two ways: legs lightly basted in a special marinade, and bacon wrapped chicken breasts kissed with a hint of seasoning.  The chicken breast was incredibly juicy and flavorful.  I also tried the Brazilian-style, cured pork sausage called Linguica. The sausage originated in Portugal, and gained popularity in Brazil during colonial times. At Fogo, the linguica is flavored with a special blend of seasonings, created to complement the many flavors of churrasco (bbq).

Lastly, we ended the meal with dessert.  After clearing our plates, a platter of the night's options were presented.

I chose the Key Lime Pie.  It was fragrant with lime and topped with lots of whipped cream.  I found it to be a lighter, and bright citrus finish to the meal.

Though stuffed to the brim, I convinced Keith to pick a chocolate dessert.  Mostly so I could have a bite!  He chose the Chocolate Mousse Cake.  The sweet cream layer was very sweet, and I preferred the dark chocolate mousse layer instead.

Overall, the quality of food at Fogo is high and much better than other buffet-style restaurants.  There are many options to from the self-service area ranging from cold salads to hot fish and rice.  It was so crowded that though reservations are made, you are still given a tacky buzzer when you check in at the hostess stand and are asked to wait in the lobby area.  The dining room itself was very packed and loud, which also took away some points from the ambience score, but the fact that gauchos come by and slice fresh meat for you table-side is unique and interactive.  The restaurant seems more suited for large groups and celebrations, rather than a romantic night out.  If you love meat and your stomach is up to the challenge, Fogo de Chão can be a value.

You could win a complimentary "dinner-for-two" gift card to try Fogo de Chão yourself - check out the giveaway going on now!

Total Rating: 3.9
Food: 4, Price: 3.5, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 5

Fogo de Chão on Urbanspoon

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