Fogo-licious

Here’s a co-authored post on our first Fall 2011 Restaurant Week experience! Nicole will be writing in blue, and Luke will be writing in crimson.

FYI, this is how the dining experience works, as detailed on the website:

Step 1: Sit down, relax, and enjoy a drink while we explain the Fogo dining experience.

Step 2: Visit our gourmet salad and sides bar. Enjoy over 30 items including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes.

Step 3: Turn your card green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service.

Step 4: Choose from the 15 cuts of delectable fire roasted meats that are brought to your table, sliced, and served by our gaucho chefs.

Step 5: When you are satisfied, flip the disc to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.

Step 6: If you wish, end the meal with one of our delicious desserts.

First Course- Don’t Fill Up

As soon as you walk into Fogo, you’ll see a gigantic salad bar stocked with over 30 items. According to their website, it is “a virtual feast of gourmet salads, fresh vegetables, imported cheeses, artisan breads, cured meats and more”; we couldn’t agree more! Some of what we sampled: aged Parmesan, aged manchego cheese, prosciutto, Italian salami, smoked salmon, artichoke bottoms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, julienned carrots and green beans, and tabbouleh.

Hey everyone! I was not trusted to write this by myself. The others feared I would say something along the lines of “Lots of meat. Delicious! Yum, five stars,” and end it. However, This first course is imperative to being able to get the most out of the overall meal. The items at the salad bar are all light and cool. They work as a wonderful counter act to the mounds of sizzling meats about to be served. It allows one to prepare their stomach for the loads of food to come. In fact when I felt near the point of satiation by meat, I would take a trip to the salad bar and select a refreshing morsel to soothe my stomach and prepare myself for another round of filet, chicken, sirloin, pork, and lamb.

We had to be cautious not to overeat here, as the primary act of our dining experience was soon to come.

Second Course- Carnivore’s Paradise

This is where it gets exciting. I flip my card to green, letting all the servers know it is time to go. It is only a few seconds before the bottom sirloin is served as well as the filet mignon, chicken leg, and pork sausage. If you like dark meat, try the chicken leg. It is wonderfully tender and juicy. I am not sure how, but it seems the cooking style made the hearty, earthy flavors of the dark meat far more predominate then any leg I have ever tried before. Unfortunately, I am a fan of white meat. That is why I searched out the bacon-wrapped chicken breast. When I finally got it on my plate, next to the bacon wrapped filet mignon (which I don’t recommend, since the salty bacon completely overpowers the sweet delicate cut of filet mignon), I enjoyed it. The chicken was good, not great: a little dry (which upset me) and very salty (which I didn’t mind). I would have had another piece, but there were much better dishes to choose from.

The lamb is one of them. There are two choices, Leg of Lamb and Lamb Chop. Unfortunately I did not try the Lamp Chop, but the Leg of Lamb was delicious. I would recommend trying it even if you are not a fan of lamb. It was sliced very thin table side as all the dishes are. The taste was delicate and the meat was tender. I finished wanting more. From the group I was the only one who tried the parmesan pork which was similar to the bacon wrapped chicken; a little dry, a little tough, salty, and garlicky as well. It was good, I would have another piece, but it was not amazing. I cannot say as much for the pork ribs. They are not the slow cooked tender ribs that I love. Though I was not embarrassed to pick it up with my fingers and chow down, I found there was too much pulling and tugging to get the meat away from the rib to really enjoy it. 

In addition to the variety of meats, we were served pão de queijo (warm cream puff-like bread balls infused with cheese), crispy polenta rectangles sprinkled with parmesan, garlic mashed potatoes (garnished with cheddar, chives, and house seasoning [paprika]), and caramelized bananas. This is where you realize how much must go to waste. If any plate sat on the table for an extended period of time, it was replaced with a new dish even if there was only a bite taken. 

My top three meats–in order–were the filet mignon, bottom sirloin, and ribeye (the fact that they all came from a cow is unintentional). The filet mignon was juicy, flavorful, and beyond tender. Both the Fraldinha (bottom sirloin) and ribeye had excellent crusts, providing for quite the succulent experience. Frango (chicken) is prepared in two ways: moist dark meat legs and salty bacon-wrapped white meat chicken breasts. I’d avoid the garlic Picanha (top sirloin), which is chewy beyond belief; it took Luke over 5 minutes to down one piece. Eventually I swallowed it like a pill. I didn’t need a second bite.

Third Course- Underwhelming Finish

By the time the waiter came over to offer us dessert, we had been sitting there 15 minutes talking and digesting. I wanted to savor one last taste, so I had our waiter call the filet mignon gaucho over and had him slice off one last moist piece for me. YUM.

When Nicole says she wanted one last taste, she meant it. The piece carved for her was the perfect size for her to simply pop in her mouth. I felt similarly about dessert– I was disappointed. There were three selections to choose from as a part of Restaurant Week: Key Lime Pie, New York-Style Cheesecake, and Chocolate Mousse Pie. Although we did not try the cheesecake from fear of exploding, the other two desserts left much to be desired. Indistinguishable crusts and insignificant flavors. The mousse was very chocolatey, yes. However, the key lime was very mild. I left wondering what a dessert from the actual menu would have been like. We were told the key lime was the only one of the three on the menu. Though the key lime disappointed, the clearly moist chocolate cake (which I immediately pegged as Chocolate Lava Cake) served at another table left my mouth watering and my stomach willing to gorge itself simply from viewing it.

I’m sad that the desserts weren’t as spectacular as the meats: the key lime flavor in the pie could have been much more pronounced (the heavy layer of condensed whipped cream on top overpowered the extremely mild citrus flavor) and the chocolate mousse cake was alright. Yet I suppose that’s understandable; this place is a Brazilian steakhouse, not a patisserie. (Luke and I both thought the Molten Chocolate Cake served at another table looked positively decadent, though.)

Overall…

Lots of Meat. Delicious! Yum, five stars.

Excellent! 4 1/2 stars.

Oh, and Qingxin has a few comments: “My favorite was the ribeye. The sirloin (all cuts) weren’t bad either. Because there was so much of everything else, it all just blended together into something average. I had the key lime pie for dessert; the key lime flavor was very mild and could have been much stronger. Fogo gets ★★★.”

Fogo de Chao ★★★★
1337 Chestnut Street

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