Last week I made my first ever trip to Fogo de Chao, the famous Brazilian steak house. Now, I know what you are thinking, "What can a vegetarian possibly eat at Fogo de Chao?" Well, it turns out, quite a bit!
I left work and took the green line over to Copley to meet my dinner dates, my cousin and his girlfriend. Fogo de Chao is located on the first floor of the Westin Hotel, right next to the Boston Public Library.
We entered through the bar area and decided to take a seat and have a few drinks and apps.
The bar is bathed in a warm glow from the light fixtures both above and illuminating the wall behind it.
The bartender came over the introduce himself and handed us the cocktail menu. I am a big fan of the Brazilian liquor cachaca, so I was psyched to see how they use it.
I decided on the Bellini Caipirini (left) and my cousin's girlfriend went with the Passionate Caipirinha (right).
My drink was cachaca, peach puree, lime juice and prosecco. It had an amazing peach flavor and went down so smoothly. My cousin (a six foot tall, former football player) took one sip and said, "Yup, that would make me lose my pants."
The Passionate Caipirinha is cachaca, passion fruit puree, fresh limes and cane sugar. I fell in love with the taste of the fresh limes. The drink was super refreshing.
With cocktails in hand, we were ready for some appetizers. We immediately gravitated towards the warm hearts of palm and spinach dip. I've eaten a lot of hearts of palm in Miami (I don't know why they are obsessed with it, but they are) and I much preferred it to the usual spinach/artichoke combo.
Somehow the hearts of palm added just the right texture (less chewy than artichokes) and still paired perfectly with the spinach. The dip was oh-so-cheesy.
We scooped heaping spoonfuls of dip onto expertly crisped toasts that tasted just slightly of garlic.
The crunch of the toasts together with the creaminess of the dip was a perfect combination.
Next, we ordered the crispy parmesan polenta fries (which we would later regret. More on that in a minute). They were cut just like classic French fries and dusted with parmesan cheese.
I have to be honest, I was totally underwhelmed. The bartender had told us the malagueta aioli was "amazing" but to us, it didn't taste like anything.
We left the fries and headed into the main dining room. The manager showed us to our seats, which had a view of a rather dramatic mural.
Our waitress came over to introduce herself and dropped off a basket of cheesy bread. These were a cross between rolls and muffins and they had a very unique texture. She later told us they are made with yucca flour and they are actually gluten-free!
After popping the cheesy bread like candy, we stood up and surveyed Fogo's salad bar.
This salad bar is on steroids. In addition to all the usual fixings, it has grilled veggies, multiple kinds of salads (like potato salad) and spreads and all kind of cheeses and meats.
Here is a shot of my first plate from the salad bar - lettuce, tomato, green bean salad, grilled zucchini, fresh mozzarella cheese and manchego cheese.
We most definitely ate our daily serving of veggies!
Next up, the main event, the Fogo de Chao unlimited meats. For those who have never been to a Brazilian steak house before, they are typically all you can eat.
Our waitress handed each of us a coaster. One side was green and one side was red. For as long as your green side is face up, the servers will continue to bring meat selections.
When you need to tap out (or your pants are about to bust at the seams), you flip it to red.
My cousin was outrageously excited, as you can see from his eyes bugging out of his head when the first skewer arrived.
Each time a new meat option comes to the table, you tell the server how well done you like the meat, he begins to cut a piece and you lift it off with your personal pair of tongs.
Over the next half hour, my cousin and his girlfriend sampled the chicken, the beef sirloin, the fraldinha (bottom sirloin), the beef picanha, the ribeye, the filet mignon, the lamb and the lamb chops.
Since I didn't taste any of the meat myself, I had to rely on my dinner dates to fill me in. They said their favorite was the filet mignon, far and away. In second place, the ribeye. In third place, the lamb, which they called "totally perfect."
Other stand outs included the beef picanha which they described as, "juicy and very flavorful" and the fraldinha (bottom sirloin) which was "crispy, smoky and had a BBQ flavor."
On a total meat high, my cousin raved, "This is officially my favorite restaurant in Boston."
In addition to the meat, we were also delivered three side dishes for the table: mashed potatoes, plantains and polenta fries. We were kicking ourselves when we realized the polenta fries were included, since we'd already had them at the bar.
These mashed potatoes were some of the best I've ever had. Just rich, creamy, straight up comfort food.
Though it may seem like we already ate enough to feed a small country, of course I wanted dessert.
We decided to share two confections, the first of which was the molten chocolate cake.
The cake itself was fluffy and every bite tasted nice and warm from the gooey fudge-filled center.
We also enjoyed the creme brûlée which was fantastic! I loved tapping through the burnt sugar glass and uncovering the sweet custard. I would come back just to eat this again.
I also loved the intricate presentation with the cinnamon circles decorating the plate.
Overall, our experience at Fogo de Chao was an indulgent one! From the very strong cocktails, to the heavenly dip, the addicting cheesy bread, the mile long salad bar, the litany of meat selections and then finally, the sugar rush.
I will caution you that the cost of dining at Fogo de Chao is pretty significant. It's $52 dollar per person, not including drinks, appetizers or dessert. But, they do let you stay, dine and relax for as long as you want, so theoretically, you could stay for hours.
Tell me, have you ever been to Fogo de Chao? What do you look forward to having when you go?
*Though my meal at Fogo de Chao was complimentary, all opinions are 100 percent my own.