Fogo de Chao Brings Brazil to Boston
Last month, Brazilian cuisine hit Boston with a modern fare. Fogo de Chao is large chain out of Brazil that carries out the gaucho way of serving: large hunks of skewered meat arrive at your table for your choosing, then the theme-dressed gaucho-chef will cut you as many pieces of meat as you’d like. Sound overwhelming? Here’s what we thought of our first experience.
Atmosphere: Fogo de Chao’s space within the Westin in Copley Square is huge. So large that it fits my vision of many Vegas restaurants: sprawling spaces, friendly and bustling service, and indulgence at every turn.
Service: Service is performed as a team. After getting situated at your table, you are given instructions for dining: When you’d like the gauchos to come to your table, flip you card to green; when you’d like eat what is on your plate without being interrupted, flip to red. Considering the amount of space they need to cover, we found the service excellent. When we requested a piece of lamb be medium rare, the gaucho did not have the appropriate temperature available and sure enough, returned about ten minutes later when a nicely-cooked, medium rare chop (obviously not pictured below).
Drinks: A large selection of caipirinha ($10-12), a staple of Brazil, are available on the menu. They also boast a nice wine selection. But the highlight of the spirits here is the beverage cart! Yes, an old school beverage cart is pushed around the dining room for your ordering pleasure.
Salad Bar: Your meal includes a salad bar buffet, filled with cured meats, cheeses, salads and traditional salad toppings. I liked this advice on Twitter: do one loop around the salad bar before even picking up a plate. You won’t want to spoil your appetite on greens, so only select a few of your favorites from the salad bar.
Meats: You can find a full listing, complete with descriptions, of the fifteen (yes, you read that correctly) meats available. Some of our favorites include their signature picanha, lamb shops, linguica and beef ancho. Tip: ask for the side sauces for the meat. The hot sauce and chimicurri compliment the meat very nicely.
Sides: A couple of side dishes are served with your meal. We were treated to caramelized bananas (which reminded me if fried plantains by their preparation), garlic mashed potatoes and crispy polenta sticks.
Desserts: Despite barely having any room, we were talked into trying two of their desserts. The Creme Brule ($9) was traditional with a nice browned crust on top, it was their signature dessert that stole the show. Gorgeous in presentation, the Papaya Cream ($9) was creamy yet light, and topped with Chambord to add just a touch of sweetness that doesn’t overpower the pudding (which we were afraid of, and pleasantly surprised when it all came together quite nicely and wasn’t too sweet).
Cost: The full dinner with salad bar is $46.50 per person; just the salad bar is $22.50. Drinks and dessert are not included.
Final Thoughts: We enjoyed our meal at Fogo de Chao. It’s not like anything else that Boston has to offer, especially if you are a meat lover. With the amount of food that is served and price, I can’t say I’d go there too regularly, but the dining experience is unique and the food is decent. As the holidays approach, the idea of an all-you-can-eat buffet makes me question how much of their food is wasted: it would be very easy to try one or two bites of everything and really get your money’s worth, but I’m sure many restaurants, especially those that serve large portions, wrestle with the same issue.
Our meal was complimentary; all opinions are our own.
Have you dined at Fogo de Chao or another Brazilian steakhouse? How did you like the gaucho experience?