Untamed. Exotic. Vibrant. These are just a few of the words used to describe Brazilian cuisine. Is Fogo de Chao worthy of such strong language? I will let you decide.
I received an invitation to Fogo’s soft opening on Tuesday, April 29th. Our party of four arrived about 30 mins early, and were greeted by a wall of black. It was intimidating to walk into the restaurant to seven hosts standing like ducks in a row. We were immediately seated, in the back of the restaurant, with the host racing to the table. The saving grace of the serving staff was Alex. He greeted us promptly and made the dining experience completely enjoyable. With my critical mind and eye, Alex always maintained a professional, cordial and inviting attitude. My only issue at this point was with myself, I wish I would have spent more attention to “Rules to the Dining Experience.”
The first course of the night is a visit to a salad/side bar. It claims to have over 30 items including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes. While I was fairly confident in identifying some of the items on the salad bar, it would have been an immense help to have some kind of identification cards in place. Additionally, there were a few sides, like the pasta, that was definitely from a box, which was disappointing.
Do you remember growing up playing “Red Light, Green Light?” If so, take the knowledge from the game and apply it to your dinner service. If not, here is a brief description of what to expect. At each table setting there is a red and green sided coaster. When you are ready for the gaucho chefs to begin table-side service, flip your card green side up. It took less than 45 seconds before I had six different proteins on my plate. By the end of that brief minute, I was entirely overwhelmed and felt as if I had become prey for vultures. Needless to say, the table turned the coasters back to red and spent the remainder of the night with Alex directing the meats to our table. A practice I would highly recommend.
The meats included sausage, different cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, chicken thighs, and drumsticks. The website claims “16 cuts of meat,” yet only 15 were made available table side. There was only one cut of meat that I wouldn’t finish as it had a bitter taste. There were a few cuts of meat that were lost due to the order in which they were consumed/served. One such example would be eating the parmesan pork chop after the garlic beef. It seemed haphazard and no thought was taken into the order of the meats presented.
Off the dessert menu, only four are made in house: the Papaya Cream, Flan, Creme brûlée, and pineapple. The only issue found was with the Creme Brûlée regarding consistency, it wasn’t light and airy, but thick and dense. It was flan in a ramekin. A pleasant conclusion to the meal would be the Papaya Cream with Raspberry liquor. The heavens literally opened and provide Fogo with one of the most delectable and light desserts to share with the World.
The restaurant is capable of sitting 220 people comfortably. After being at the restaurant almost three hours, I only noticed a handful of tables, leave before we did and I left wondering what would happen on a night with 600 covers.
The restaurant appeared to be broken up into sections, with a group of servers to attend. Alex seemed at ease and knowledgeable from the moment he approached the table. If you get a chance to visit Fogo, request his section. But hurry, he is only here for a few more weeks.
During the course of the meal, one of the gauchos stopped by the table and made the following statement, “when you have a premium product, you can charge a premium price.” For a table of four the cost of service was $265, which doesn’t include a tip or drinks. After reading this review, or perhaps visiting the restaurant yourself, you can decide if the food is worth the price.