Friday, February 4, 2011

Fogo de Chão

This past week, my friends and I finally gave into our curiosity and ventured into the famous--or rather infamous--meat-lover’s paradise known as Fogo de Chão during Restaurant Week. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was surprised at how busy the restaurant was at merely 5 on a Friday evening, a time when most other places are only just receiving their first diners. Restaurant Week is a great time to try Fogo de Chão, as the menu is completely identical to the regular one. No simplified or modified choices here.

After sitting down, I was given a plate to help myself at the gourmet salad bar. It was definitely impressive: a wheel of parmgiano reggiano, fresh mozzarella, smoked salmon, prosciutto, fresh greens, roasted bell peppers, and more. So fresh! So crisp! Even creamy and normally heavy salads, such as chicken or potato, were somehow light.

The asparagus was not woody but tender. The smoked salmon had a slight chew and was wonderfully smoky and flavorful. The slice of salami was quite sharp. I’m not sure what the green dressing was, but it had a peppery bite. In the front of the plate was a creamy apple and raisin salad that was refreshingly tart.
Included in the meal were dishes of constantly refilled polenta cakes, garlic mashed potatoes and fried bananas. The bananas were a good foil to the meats that followed: sweet, a little crispy, and cut beautifully through the richness of the grilled steaks.

As for the steaks, where to begin? Once I flipped the coaster over to green, there was a constant stream of “gaucho chefs” or Brazilian cowboy style waiters that would stop at the table and ask if I was interested in a particular steak or cut of meat. There were 15 options, though after awhile, it became difficult to keep track of which ones I’d tried and which ones I hadn’t. But the best out of the bunch was definitely the filet mignon wrapped with bacon. It was incredibly tender and juicy. And the picanha, or top sirloin, was also wonderful.

And after eating an embarrassing amount of meat in one sitting, my friends and I waddled from our seats with the most content smile stretched across our faces. I would definitely recommend Fogo de Chão if you are in search of a hearty meal and excellent service. Just be sure to arrive hungry.

Fogo de Chão
1337 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

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