What better place to celebrate my meat-loving husband's birthday than at a Brazilian steak house in the company of good friends? And according to the grapevine, this meat emporium is one of the best. Restaurants like Fogo don't just provide a meal, but a sybaritic event. There's a protocol and even strategies to maximize the experience.
The space is large, as you would expect it to be to accommodate servers weaving in, out and around the tables to offer their treasures. It's all framed in mahogany with dramatic and vibrant flower arrangements to contrast. The tables are impeccably set with large gleaming wine glasses and white linens, all surrounding the main focal point, what most call the salad bar, the restaurant calls the Market Table, and I call an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I know they treat everyone the same, but the service is like nothing I've ever seen, and I felt like a queen. A team of waiters hovered over our table refilling side dishes and water glasses, bringing cuts of meat, catering to every whim, answering every question and all with unwavering smiles, and somehow without being intrusive.
They start you with a basket of dainty cheese and yucca rolls, Pao de Queijo. These little puffs look like toy bread. They just put you in a happy mood right out of the gate. From the bar, DJ ordered her classic Seven and Seven, Mario ordered a Caiparinha, the traditional Brazilian cocktail with cachaça, John a Brazilian beer called Devassa, which apparently means "salacious, bawdy and wanton". I had the more proper Superfruit Lemonade, a refreshing mixture of that oh so familiar Veev açai, Grand Marnier Rouge, strawberries, blueberries and lemon.
Let's now address the Market Table, because the name 'salad bar' just won't do. Come to think of it, you could actually do your groceries off this table. Here's a short(?) list of only what I saw from my table: smoked salmon, Chilean sea bass, shrimp cocktail, shrimp skewers, grilled zucchini, asparagus, green salads, pasta salads, chicken salad, fresh mozzarella, olives, countless varieties of imported cheeses, and I will stop there because I still need to comment on the reason for our visit, the meats.
Before I revisit the main course, I must mention the plates of fried polenta, caramelized bananas and mashed potatoes that are never allowed to deplete before they are refilled. This is why I never made it to the Market Table. Didn't need to!
This is without a doubt the land of the carnivores. Sure, they try to distract you with bells and whistles, but a true meat eater must stay in the zone to get the most bang for the buck, if you will. If your two-sided coaster is on green, the protein parade begins, and before you're done with one cut, another is offered, and another, and another... Picanha (top sirloin), Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), Costella (beef ribs), and our favorites this evening, Filet Mignon and Beef Ancho (ribeye).
And if you still have it in you, white meats are also prominently featured- lamb, pork ribs, chicken, pork loin and pork sausage. Whew! Time to turn the coaster to the red side!
Dessert anyone? Well, it's a birthday celebration so there must be dessert, even if there's only room for a few bites. We decided to order one and share. The honored birthday guest picked the Tiramisu, one of his favorites, and it didn't disappoint. It was creamy and rich but not overwhelming, as Tiramisu can be sometimes. A sweet end to a lavish meal.
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