Fogo De Chao

When I go to a steakhouse, I pay for one steak and maybe two sides. But when I come to Fogo I get more than a traditional steak dinner. Fogo De Chao is the holy grail of restaurants if you want to endlessly stuff your face with pricey meat until you can’t take another bite. It’s actually insane and incredible that someone would think of this concept and give it to the world for everyone to enjoy. I was coming here for the second time and my family was coming here for their first time. Wasn’t going to forget my favorable experience once I sat down and chowed down. I attended the restaurant a year prior to this time, but I was trying to forget my unfavorable experience. The food was awesome, but my waiter was not and that dimmed the experience.

My mother tried to make the best of it by not asking for the manager and leaving a huge tip. I was going to get over it once I sat down at the Brazilian Steakhouse a second time. When I saw the large blue sign with the huge white letters, I let go of every negative thought and experience I had before. My mother drove up to the valet and I got excited. This short white guy opened the door for my dad and brother while my mom and I had to exit the car on our own. My mother drove one time and the boys got the chivalry.

It was the day after Valentine’s Day and lovers were still fulfilling the holiday pass due. There were a few families out and about, but it was mainly couples celebrating their love at a place that wasn’t romantic. Couples were lined up to get a seat and the hostess was stiff trying to manage a room full of people. Fogo De Chao had an atmosphere that suited parties and family gatherings not a late night romantic getaways with one’s love. The first place I noticed when I walked in was the bar. Everyone flocked to it; glasses were pressed against everyone’s hands.  The bar was placed adjacent to the entrance so when you walked in you were able to immediately get a drink. Across the way was a packed room filled with wine that added a nice aesthetic to the building. The wine room actually served as a wall that separated the dining room from the front of the restaurant.

The scent of meat was lingering in the air making me more anxious to sit at the dining table and eat. My brother and I sat at the sitting area beside the bar and listened to a young couple flirting with each other. I tried hard not to acknowledge their conversation, but the sound bits I got were interesting.

“Impress me with your dates,” The girl said. She held on to her boyfriend’s hands. “This date is boring.” She laughed. He mumbled a few things to her and I could still hear her giggling. She didn’t appear to be too bored by him.  I eventually blocked them out. The room was not bright but dimmed with skylights placed uniformly throughout the ceiling. The brighter parts of the restaurant were at the salad bar and the dining area.

I was extremely casual when I showed up to Fogo this time. My Uggs were warmly on my feet, I had on my mini jean skirt,  and a tee shirt covered by my sweater hoodie. My family dressed business casual and when my grandma and uncle showed up they were dressed for the club. My grandmother had on a gold dress with gold hoops and heels and she pulled her hair up. She wore her favorite red lipstick and put on false eyelashes. My uncle had on slacks and a sweater; slacks always make someone look dressed up even if they’re not trying. I wasn’t the only one who was super casual, when I looked over there was a young Asian woman in leggings and sneakers. If the dress code was a huge issue I would have been turned away at the door.

Our reservation was made for seven thirty, but we sat down at seven twenty-two, which was great. Our table was round covered with white linen in the back of the restaurant next to a wine rack. The table was decorated in silverware and black napkins and had a cleared area for sides dishes that were coming later. The focus of the table were the six circular red cards that read “No Thanks”. I sat next to my mom who secured her Louis Vuitton on her lap, my brother sat on my opposite side and my uncle, grandma, and dad sat across from us.

Our waiter was a young woman dressed in a blue long sleeve shirt and black pants. Her curly hair was pulled into a bun that she placed on top of her head. As we got comfortable at our table she asked for our drink order. The best drink at Fogo, other than the different varieties for alcohol was the Lime-Aid. Lime-Aid sounds like a simple lemonade with the exception of lemons being replaced with Lime, but it is actually a frothy sorbet type drink with lime as the main ingredient. A lime is placed on the edge of the glass to give the drink a nice aesthetic. It was smooth except for the ice that continued to slip into my mouth as I slurped my drink down. Everyone ordered the Lime-Aid except my brother who ordered a Sprite that came in a tall glass bottle; they brought him a glass full of ice so he could pour it over.

I was ready to flip the red card over to the opposite side, but I was going to indulge in the salad bar and sample a few things. The salad bar sat right in the middle of the restaurant and was self-serving. You could go as many times as you wanted, and pile your white glass plate to heaven if you wish. I went to the salad bar and got everything, but lettuce on my plate; I got an apple salad, but that didn’t have lettuce. There were different cheeses and meats, like bacon and salami. There were soups and some other dishes, but I was saving room for the meat that was served on the sticks. Even though I wanted to chow down on meat, there were just many yummy items around the salad bar. When I saw salmon I piled it on next to my apple salad and then added a few pieces of bacon. I grabbed a few pieces of cheese and some potato stuff that smelled fantastic before returning to my table. I ate my mozzarella cheese first, it was okay because it didn’t burst with a trillion flavors on my tongue. None of my cheeses did, the salmon tasted great, but I loved the bacon. It was sweet as if they dipped it indirectly in syrup, pulled it out and let it dry and it was so crispy, but not burnt. I wanted to eat more bacon, but I had to save room in my tiny stomach. I grabbed my red card and flipped it over to the green side and my family did the same. We were ready for meat.

The round card is used to signal guys carrying huge racks of meat to your table. They will bring you meat whatever temperature you like and you can get more than one piece if you want.  The meat is unlimited. The very first guy who passed by our table was carrying filet mignon well-done. I didn’t usually eat my meat well-done, but I was going to try it because I could get later. He cut the piece off the stick and placed it on my plate. The steak wasn’t extremely easy to cut into and I actually made a piece fly off my plate. I was a little embarrassed, but the meat handler gave me another piece. My mother got a piece too, but she wasn’t impressed by the overcooked steak. She pushed it aside on her plate with a dissatisfied look on her face.

“I don’t like my meat well-done,” she said.

I cut into my meat again and chewed but it was really tough. Well-done meat was not the best; the flavor was still there, but it was too chewy. I liked my meat to be pink in the center, easy to cut and easy to chew. I waited for a guy to come to pass with something else instead another waiter came. He was a young guy who brought a silver container with black linen placed inside that held bread. He also placed mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, and polenta, that went untouched. The bite-sized bread pieces were the first to go. They were shaped like little muffins covered in butter. Once you bit into one you would get a surprise of cheese.

The next meat guy came with pork tenderloin cooked medium rare and it was absolutely amazing. The meat was pink in the middle and red juices flowed out. I took my knife to cut the first bite and “wowed”. This is what I came to Fogo De Chao for. That one piece of pork was so tender and cooked to perfection. I should have gotten more than one piece, but there was still so much more meat to come. I got the lamb leg next and that was good, but it didn’t compare to the lamb chop that was slightly charred on the outside, and nice and juicy on the inside. I didn’t finish the lamb chop trying so desperately to save room in my stomach even though I was already full.

No one at my table really ate any of the sides except for my mom and I. My brother sat quietly at the table refusing what didn’t sound delightful to him. My dad and uncle cracked jokes about how much they were eating. My grandma got up and came back with another plate of food from the salad bar.

“I don’t like all that red meat. I like these peppers,” she said. I thought why did she agree to come to an all you can eat steakhouse if she was only going to eat vegetables. I didn’t say anything but made a joke.

“You’re like your brother. You only eat fish and chicken,” I said. Everyone laughed at our inside joke. Because of my uncle, we almost didn’t make to Fogo De Chao. The Friday before he was complaining about how he only ate fish and poultry. My concerned dad suggested we canceled the reservation, but my uncle insisted we still come. I watched my uncle eat and stop and I laughed at when he made jokes about his pregnant stomach. He went as far as to say that football season caused his larger stomach, but we all knew that wasn’t true. Everyone at my table was moving at a slow pace, I was letting everyone who walked past add food to my plate.

It was hard to resist when the guys walked by and had something you hadn’t tried yet. There was one steak covered in crumbs that looked so appealing I tried it even though my stomach was full. After five different guys stopped at my table I flipped my card over and put my fork down. My brother and dad made fun of me for having so much food on my plate, but I couldn’t go on. I told myself I was done until another guy walked by with something I hadn’t tried and I flipped my card another time. I don’t know what I ate, but it tasted good and I didn’t regret forcing it down. I had so much meat on my plate I barely ate the mashed potatoes. I saved room for the bananas; they were sweet and it took the edge off of eating all the salty foods.

The young guy came back and brought more bread and more sides. He cleared our plates and brought new ones then I ate more. I knew I had a stopping point, but I wanted one last piece of meat. I flipped my card one last time and took a slice of whatever the guy who had passed me had. I reached over the table for the mashed potatoes and grabbed more banana and stuffed my face more. My brother told me I wouldn’t finish and I didn’t. I just let it go to waste. Everyone else who had joined me in my dining experience had put their forks down also. The guys still walked over and tried to serve us meat, but we refused. I knew that it was over when my dad asked for the check. As the server came by and started cleaning plates, I grabbed my fork and cut off a piece of banana.

“Are you done now?” He asked.

“Yes. Thank you. I just needed that last bite of banana,” I said.

“She wins,” My uncle laughed. “She kept eating.” I just smiled and ignored the snarky comments from both my dad and my brother. I was completely satisfied by my second coming to Fogo De Chao.

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