Thursday, December 23, 2010

What does a vegetarian eat at a Brazilian steakhouse?

A lot of stuff, as I discovered this afternoon!


Fogo de Chão is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse that is well known for its various cuts of expertly grilled meat and the continuous tableside service. Servers walk around holding platters of meat. Each diner is given a circular card (right). If the red colored side is facing up, it means that you don't require anything, at the moment. Turn it the other way and the green side faces up. When you do that, a server walks up to you with his platter and offers you a slice (or more) of the specific cut of meat that he's carrying. All servers looked (and sounded) Latin American. Well, they could have been Central American too, I guess! They were dressed in dark blue shirts, blue-black roomy pants and boots. All very nice and elegant and formal, I thought.

So what did I eat? Fogo de Chão has a SPECTACULAR salad bar section. There must have been close to 50 items laid out and as much as I wished, I couldn't load my plate more. I resolved to go back for seconds so that I could sample more items but I was too stuffed.

Chickpea salad, butter beans, hearts of palm, sweet red peppers, roast potatoes, cucumbers, button mushrooms, tabouli salad, beets, salad greens, roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes, cheese, endives... and possibly some other delicious items I am forgetting? Oh yes, I saw some jumbo asparagus and mozzarella balls that I passed fully intending to come back to them later. Alas, that didn't happen... :(

This was my first time eating hearts of palm. Tender and juicy, they were slightly tart (probably due to the brine/marinade?). The sweet-spicy red peppers were gorgeous - I wonder what they are called?

The servers also bring you an unending stream of the sides namely, pão de queijo (delicious little cheese bread pockets - YUM!), crispy polenta wedges, mashed potatoes with garlic and cheese, and caramelized bananas. I missed taking a picture of the polenta and the mashed potatoes. They were excellent too!

I had to steel my heart and not eat any more just so I could sample dessert. One of the items was Fogo de Chão's signature Papaya Cream. Then there was the Creme Brulee which I generally avoid because it contains eggs. Now I know what you're thinking - you are dining at a steakhouse and you want to avoid eggs? Yeah, ironic, I know, but you get my drift, don't you? I went ahead and ordered the Molten Chocolate Cake that's essentially a chocolate cake with a fudge center, served with vanilla ice cream. Just as the server was going to turn away, I changed my mind and asked for the Papaya Cream. Good decision, I think.

Wonderful! The perfect combination of creaminess and sweetness and richness... fabulous.

I would go back to Fogo de Chão in a heartbeat as long as no one laughs at me for being the girl who ate a huge plate of salad at an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. Well, I need to taste the Molten Chocolate Cake anyway.


Oh, the reason I landed at Fogo de Chão for lunch one afternoon? My generous boss treated us to a Christmas lunch and he picked this place knowing that even as a vegetarian, I would be able to eat well here. So sweet.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, that sounds like my kind of place! I seriously need to come to Atlanta so I can try all these delicious places you write about :)

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  2. This is a chain; you should find it in other cities also.

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  3. Thanks for writing this up; I'm taking my husband tonight for his birthday. It's my first time, and I'd heard that they had a good salad bar - but as a vegetarian, hearing your review makes me happy!

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