Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meat Me in Baltimore

Today I had the best work-lunch I’ve ever had.  My boss and I and her other 3 direct reports went to a Brazilian steakhouse called Fogo de Chão.  (foe-goe dee shoun) At first I thought that a “Brazilian” steakhouse would mean that the meat has all the trimmings ripped off of it with wax, but I was assured otherwise.  Fogo (not to be confused with Fubu) is a steakhouse where throughout your meal, the “gauchos” keep bringing to your table, hunks of different meats on a skewer, which they will cut off onto your plate if you so desire.
Apparently, “Churrascaria” is Brazilian for “Meat-O-freakin’-Rama.”

Holy crap, I tell you, I ate until I couldn’t move. 

When you first come in, they try to misdirect you by telling you all about the salad bar.  I mostly ignored that part because it was pretty much full of vegetables.  Well, to be fair, they also had exotic cheeses and fruits, smoked salmon, salami, prosciutto, artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, various olives and other Mediterranea. 
This is one of the ends.  All the veggie/fruity stuff are along the sides; this is the meat and cheese side.  You can see the giant bowl of bacon on the bottom right, which is considerably less heaping than it was when we walked in.

For someone like Cassie, the salad bar her could be a banquet in and of itself.  But as you might remember from this post, I am not a vegetable guy.  In fact, I think they’re evil.  Regardless, the last thing I want to do during an all-you-can-eat meat-a-thon is fill up the salad bar.  But they also had a giant bowl of bacon, so I had to at least give that a try, along with some cheese.  It was the meatiest bacon I’ve ever had… not greasy at all, just crispy and perfect.
Bacon and Swiss!

At the table, everyone has a little cardboard disc that’s red on one side and green on the other.  When you’re ready to bring on the meat, you flip the disc from red to green.  Once you do, you are treated to a steady stream of dudes bringing you giant slabs of meat on a skewer.  You can ask for any level of “done-ness” and they will carve off the appropriate piece to meet your taste.  They can even carve off whole pieces from the top part of the skewer, where you’d think you’d have to slide off whatever was on the bottom.  It was very slick.
Hunk-O-Meat!


When you’ve had enough, or just want to work on what you’ve got, you flip your disc back to red.  It was all I could do, though, to remember not to put my water glass on it, like a coaster.

But you guys… it was So. Freaking. Good.
That’s a rib, bacon rolled chicken, part of a sausage, and a slice of Filet Mignon.  You can see the green disk at the upper right.

Slice of sirloin, the same rib, bacon-wrapped chicken, and the same Filet. The little 'grabbers' there at the upper right are to help the gaucho put the meat on the plate after he slices it off. Also note that the disc has been turned to red, so that I could catch up.

Two slices of lamb, (the rib bone), sirloin, and part of a pork loin.

I know it doesn’t look like there’s much going on here, but every time you eat a piece, a gaucho brings another option.  You rarely had very much on your plate at one time.  Each kind of meat was so good; you just had to try everything.  Also, as we learned at the end of the meal, the guys that bring out the meat are the same guys that cook it!  I wish I would have known that earlier, so I could have complimented appropriately.  Same goes for my boss.  Not only did she want to take one of the slabs of meat home, she wanted the gaucho to come and carve it off for her too.

There were so many variations…
Picanha (prime sirloin),

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon,

Alcatra (top sirloin),

Lombo (parmesan cheese encrusted pork loin),

Frango (Bacon-wrapped chicken breast),

Cordeiro (lamb leg and chops),

and also Beef Ancho (ribeye), Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), pork ribs,  and Linguica (pork sausages).

It’s not just that they were a bunch of different cuts of meat; they were all seasoned differently.  And all of them were tender and juicy… just perfect.  My favorites were the Filet Mignon and the pork loin.  And the bacon chicken.  And their “house specialty,” which was one of the sirloin options that had an unbelievable seasoning.

They also have mashed potatoes, light, fluffy cheesy rolls, polenta and caramelized plantains for the table.

As my cube-mate at work once said, “I ate ‘til I got stupid.”  I definitely did not need dinner tonight.  But boy, did I ever need a nap this afternoon…

Fogo is not cheap, but you knew that coming in.  Lunch came to about $40 per person (after tip), and that was with everyone drinking water and no desserts.

We tried to float the option of going there last year, as a group activity for the department.  But because there wasn’t the budget to pay for the whole thing, people would have to pick up part of the tab themselves.  That got the idea voted down right quick.  But we, (those that wanted to go anyway), filed the idea away for another day.  To me, $40 for the best lunch ever was a no-brainer.  Can’t wait to go again… (Like in two or three months, when this lunch has finally digested.

I had a thought as I was there… could you imagine if a football team came in for dinner?  Holy cow, Fogo would go Broke-O that night.  How much beef do you think this guy can eat?
Casey Hampton, aka The Big Snack, nose tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now add in all the other monster linemen on the team.  I bet if the guy came over with a big skewer of meat, Big Snack would go, “Just leave it, man.

I then see him picking up the skewer and eating the meat off it like corn-on-the-cob.

Director’s DVD Commentary: Obviously, this is not a paid or requested restaurant review.  It’s just me talking about today’s lunch.  BUT, if the kind people at Fogo de Chão would care to put me on their payroll as a taster, that would be swell.

If you’re interested, there are other Fogo locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio TX, Beverly Hills CA, Chicago IL, Denver CO, Indianapolis IN, Kansas City MO, Miami FL, Minneapolis MN, Philadelphia PA, Scottsdale AZ and Washington DC.  Plus, you know… Brazil.

The stock pictures come from the Fogo website.

28 comments:

  1. Geez, after your last two posts when I saw the photos of skewers of meat, I kept thinking there was a dick joke waiting in the wings. My mind remains in the gutter. And I love that bacon strips, rather than little fake minced bacon pieces, were at the salad bar. Hope you don't have any blood work for cholesterol scheduled any time soon!

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    1. After the last two posts, I was done with the dick jokes... especially considering the lack of comments they drew. In fact, I had to go back a couple of times to clean up the language I had originally written in this post, regarding references to "meat."

      Can't be too careful any more.

      Oh, man, I'm still full. If I were to work out right now, I wouldn't have sweat stains on my clothes, I'd have grease stains.

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  2. To a meativore such as myself, this meal looks AH-mazing. I'm particularly intrigued by this extra-meaty bacon of which you speak.

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    1. It was. Wednesday morning, I was still full. Biggest problem, though, is that I’ve been so thirsty since the meal. Must have been pretty high in salt, I figure.

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  3. I went to a similar restaurant in New Jersey once. So much meat! I think my system would have gone into shock. Glad it was yummy!

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    1. Oh, I’m not saying my system didn’t go into shock… I feel like a giant, walking meat rack.

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  4. Green Forest is one of those places just outside of the Burgh, in an eastern suburb. Went about 12 or 13 years ago but have not been back since, simply because it was just too much food for me (though I recall it being good).

    But I am surprised it is still open; I would not think one could make a lot of money going through all that meat, though when I did a quick check, I see it now costs $42 per person. I am guessing it was about half that back then...

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    1. That’s the thing. They count on the fact that people will eat enough of the other stuff to balance out all the meat. Plus the price point helps… I believe that lunch is $31, with dinner around $50. Think of how much meat you can buy at the grocery store for that kind of money… more than you can eat in one sitting, that’s for sure.

      I would love to know, though, if a pro football team has ever gone there. I bet THEY would get their money’s worth! And I just love the mental image of big Casey working on a skewer of beef like corn on the cob. I laughed for a solid minute after I thought of that…

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  5. Holy crap that looks delish. I wanna go I wanna go! I would go into such a meat coma though. I'm kinda compulsive when it comes to fancy places I know I'll never go to again: gotta sample everything in sight. And unlike the Steel Curtain linemen I'm not built for such a feast.

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    1. That was the great thing about the meal… you could sample EVERYTHING!! How many times do we go to restaurants and are torn between entrees? Happens to me a lot, so I was thrilled to be able to pick some of whatever I wanted. (And then hammer on what I liked best for 2nds and 3rds.)

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  6. Did you take all of these pictures? If so, all of your co-workers have beautiful smiles. I'd like to meet Mr. Lombo Background, ifyouknowwhatImean.

    Brazilian steakhouses are one of my favourites, but I hate that all of the pictures of the plates turn out sooooo crappy. It's just a bunch of mutilated meat hanging out with absolutely no artistic direction. Showing it still on the skewers was smart. And I've never seen Lombo before. NEED!

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    1. I took all of the larger pictures. The smaller, meat-only shots are from their website. And 'carving service' was only one of the qualities for which my boss wanted to take the gaucho home.

      And the Lombo was divine!

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  7. I think I got this comment thing figured out. Just in time, huh?

    We went to a similar restaurant here in Pittsburgh a few years back. As you know, I am the resident vegetarian in these comments (and Catholic to boot. How are we friends again?? I kid), and so I left a little hungry. Even the "salad" bar at the Pittsburgh location was loaded with meat and animal products. As I have to sometimes remind resaurants: Vegetarians don't actually eat fish. Fish is not a vegetable.

    As we started, skewer after skewer was placed RIGHT NEXT TO ME. After about the fifth skewer came to the table, my husband leaned over to the server and said, "Could you not put that next to her? She's a vegetarian."

    He's a good man.

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    1. Fogo is definitely not a place for a vegetarian. I mean, it’s not like you couldn’t eat your fill from the salad bar… there were tons of non-meat items… but I wouldn’t think it would be worth the price. How many bushels of asparagus would one have to eat to make it worth 40 bucks? Your waiter was probably thinking, ”Senora, what are you doing HERE?”

      I’ll tell you how we’re friends… a well-rounded person should have a well-rounded circle of friends. If everyone agrees with everything that all their friends think and do, what’s left to talk about?

      Although it’s funny… my best buddies back in Ohio are very politically conservative, so we agree not to talk politics. Best not to beat our heads against the wall. (The wall will crumble before our respective beliefs do.)

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    2. Thanks for that political insider info on your other buddies from Ohio. I will keep that in mind if we meet up again this summer. I'll plan ahead to the thought of beating my head against the bus wall.

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    3. We're at the point where we each know full well where the other stands and there is no chance of that changing. So there's no point to arguing.

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  8. I absolutely love Fogo de Chao. We have one here in Colorado, and that's where I took my wife for her birthday. We also ate until we can't move. Is there any other way to eat at this paradise of meat??

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    1. To do anything less is to waste your hard-earned dough. When I saw they had a location in Denver, I wondered if you’d ever been.

      That place puts me in mind of what Denis Leary said about the meat…

      “What do you think I want? I want a bowl of raw red meat… in fact, bring me a live cow! I’ll carve off what I want and ride the rest home! Dum dada dum dada dum…”

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  9. I've heard of that place from people in LA. Oh man, I think I would die. I'd never stop. I'd just keel over at some point and they'd call the time of death. Meeeeeaaaaaat.

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    1. Well then, if you and the Mrs ever venture out to Charm City, that's the place we'll pow wow. You won't regret it, although your circulatory system might...

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  10. I'll be out of touch for a few days. I'm off to Scottsdale to eat my way through that restaurant. It may take a while, and a few Alka-Seltzers, but I WILL DO IT!!

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    1. I'll expect a full report! You should convene a meeting of your crazy friends there! The gauchos will love you.

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  11. HOLY COW/CHICKEN/LAMB we MOST DEFINITELY got to visit and schedule an appointment with our CARDIOLOGISTS to get the arteries roto rootered !!!!

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  12. Reeik
    They really ought to have a cardiologist on the premises there…

    But come on out when the Tigers are in town… we can eat there and then waddle on down to the Yard. We may not make it, but we can give it a go…

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    1. Can't afford to travel with my CARDIOLOGIST maybe could rent a portable DEFIB unit !!!!! Also we'll catch a cab ain't NO walkin after that CHOLESTEROL FEST .......

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    2. "Everybody back... get the defibrillator... Clear..."

      [ZZZZAP!]

      "Look, he's getting up!"

      "Dude, can you bring me some more of that pork loin?"

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  13. Um, you actually went--willingly--to a Brazilian steakhouse? Did you not see Bridesmaids?

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    1. No, I never saw it. I'll catch it on DVD sometime.

      The only issue on my mind when I heard about it was, "All the meat you can eat? When's our reservation?"

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