Dishes of polenta fries and cheddar-sprinkled mashed potatoes were constantly refreshed to keep them enticing. The polenta fries were crisp outside and supple inside, perfectly cooked. The mashed potatoes were rich and smooth, textbook.
Whole roasted plantains were cooked with butter and dusted with cinnamon, forming a somewhat caramelized exterior and spoon-soft interior. They were a welcome distraction.
I’ve dedicated enough words to items that are grown in the soil and baked in an oven. It’s time to discuss Fogo de Chão’s continuous tableside service of 15 different meats (a set price of $52.50 per person). After setting my disc to green, the “gauchos” began flooding our table with sword-shaped skewers of meat. They either slid pieces of meat on to our plates or shaved meat from large chunks, which we grabbed with handy metal tongs.
Clockwise from top: Cordeira (lamb chop), Frango (chicken leg), Linguica (slow-roasted pork sausages) and Lombo (pork loin), which also comes crusted with Parmesan. The lamb chop was salty and had just enough fat to ignite flavor. The chicken leg was surprisingly stupendous, with crisp herb-brushed skin and juicy meat. The pork sausages had taut skin but could have used a little more kick. The slice of pork loin had caramelized skin and juicy meat.
Certain skewers are cooked rare or medium. You can request a particular temperature.
This Picanha was seasoned with sea salt. Fogo de Chão also has picanha flavored with garlic. Either way, it’s considered the prized cut of Brazilian beef, and after tasting a slice, it was easy to see why, with it’s extra burst of salt and grease (the good kind).
I didn’t care to get a photo of every meat, since that would be redundant, but the other options were Filet Mignon (cut from the tenderloin and wrapped in bacon), Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), Costela (beef ribs), Cordeiro (fresh young leg of lamb) and Beef Ancho (prime rib eye).
Incredibly, after our cascade of meat, we all had room for dessert. Two people ordered Strawberry Cream (Crème de Morango) ($9) – fresh strawberries blended with vanilla ice cream and black currant liqueur, basically an impressive milkshake. For some reason, every dessert was accented with a purple flower.
Chocolate Molten Cake (Petit Gateau) ($9.50) was plated with strawberries, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and black-and-white heart-shaped pours of chocolate sauce. It was a serviceable molten chocolate cake.
Fogo de Chão was clearly the best churrascaria I’ve ever eaten, with higher-grade cuts of meat, more attentive service and more elaborate atmosphere. My only complaint: We never received Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), Costela (beef ribs) or Cordeiro (fresh young leg of lamb).