Fogo de Chao-Chicago

Discussion in 'Restaurant Reviews' started by pete, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    If you are a meat lover then I have the place for you!! Fogo de Chao is a chain of All-You-Can-Eat Brazilian Steakhouses and they just opened one in Chicago. This weekend Wanda and I celebrated our anniversary and Wanda treated me to a weekend in Chicago. Fogo de Chao on Sunday night and Charlie Trotter's on Monday (more about Trotter's coming soon).


    Fogo is a large, cavernous space that must seat close to 250-300 people. The host stand could be a little more friendly, I thought, though Wanda had a GREAT experience with them over the phone as we changed our dining time 3 times and our numbers 2 twice. We were the first of two couples to arrive so they asked us to wait at the bar until we were all gathered. They must not have been expecting it to be too busy on the Sunday before New Year's as they only had one bartender on duty, and he was running his butt off. I do have to say though, that he took our order almost as soon as we sat, and though it took him some time to get to making our orders I really appreciated the prompt acknowledgment. Since it was a Brazilan place I had a Caipirahnia (sp?). It was really good, with lots of fresh limes, though he didn't muddle the limes and I had to do it with my straw.

    The other couple arrived soon after that and we got seated immediately. I am not sure exactly who our server was, it may have been the guy who initially greated us at the table, but for the rest of night, whoever was closest to our table, when we needed something, took care of us. It truly was team service at it's best. We ordered a couple bottles of wine then headed off to the salad bar. It was one of the most interesting salad bars I have seen. Sure they had mixed greens with dressing, and Caesar Salad, but none of the ordinary things you find at your run of the mill salad bar. I ate one of the best potato salads I have ever had, not different or exotic, just really well done. The salad bar also included whole balls of fresh mozzarella, beautiful vine-ripe tomatoes, Asparagus as thick as my arm (and tender) italian cold cuts and a wonderful salad of marinated Shiitake mushrooms.

    After salad, it was time for the real reason to eat here-MEAT!! When you sit down you are given a little disk-one side red, the other green. When you have the red side shown, they pass you by. When you flip it to green it signals that you are ready for more meat. As busy as they were I figured that we would have to wait forever for someone to notice that we were ready for our 1st, 2nd, or 3rd helpings of meat. They offer about 15 different meats that servers carry around on long skewers. They slice off small portions for you if you wish to have what they are offering. The great thing was that these guys are very tuned into each other. If they see one server slicing meat at a table they will converge on that table offering many different selections. Besides all the different cuts of beef they offer, they also had Chicken Breast, Chicken legs, Pork loin crusted in Parmesan, and Sausages, lamb chops cut from the Rack and leg of lamb. They serve you small portions so that you can try the many different selections.

    As for the quality of the food. It was excellent. Most of the meats were served MR to Medium and very well seasoned before being cooking in front of a live, wood fire. If you are not a salt fan beware, they like to go heavy on the salt, which I absolutely love. It really helps to make a great crust when cooking with live fire. I did find that the chicken breasts wrapped in bacon to be way too dry (my only major complaint) and they sides that they served seemed to be mere after thoughts (mashed potatoes, fried plantain, and fried polenta, not bad but not really good either) but then again what everyone comes for is the meat.

    This doesn't come cheaply. Dinner costs $43 a person. Add on a few bottles of wine and the cost can soar. Our bill for 4 people was around $300, but then again we had cocktails and 2 nice $40+ bottles of wine.

    We saw a number of 2 tops, but this is definately much more fun as a group. So the next time you have a craving for some serious meat hit Fogo de Chao. Right now I think they 4-5 in this country and I know they have plans to open more.
     
  2. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    A friend told me about this place; I think she ate there somewhere in Arizona a while ago, and was salivating at the news they were planning an expansion to Chicago. Carnivore that I am, I will definitely try to get there! Thanks for the review, Pete.
     
  3. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Great review! Did they have apps? and could you see them cooking over the fire?
     
  4. panini

    panini

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    thanks for the review.
    We're going to try to get there tonight. There's one up the street.
     
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    No hot apps that I was aware of-they don't have a physical menu, but you can definately find things on the salad bar to fill up on. All of the cooking is done in the back which is not visible, though they do have a small display fire with meats roasting visible from the entrance.
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Hey I actually went there last year and I'm going again tonight (hopefully) It's Sunday so with luck we can get in.
     
  7. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Since this came up the first time I visited Churrascaria Plataforma (sp?) in NYC. Sounds similar- the salad bar held very foreign tastes for me. Some of the salads looked like familiar flavors but turned out to be totally unfamiliar and took some getting used to. I wouldn't advise these places for our vegetarian friends, salad bar or not!
     
  8. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    There were five of us last night including Garrett. I ate myself silly. I think I had at least 2 racks of lamb and a pound of beef. What amazes me about this place is how you can always, ALWAYS, get your meat medium rare. They manage to slice a piece off which has at least some of the outside char and the meat inside is always juicy and pink. A tough feat IMO.
     
  9. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I have only heard good things about Fogo de Chao especially the salad bar. The only reason we have not gone yet is because of the cost.