Friday, September 26, 2008

Restaurant Review: Fogo de Chao

I'm going to skip Dictionary Friday today and just write a review of last night's dinner instead (though I did consider defining "meat" with nothing but a picture of last night).

So, as previously mentioned, we went to Fogo de Chao last night to celebrate Jen's birthday. About half the people with us had been there before, but Cooper and Jen and Sarah and I hadn't. I'm not exactly sure what I expected (though I'd definitely heard, "Fogo de Chao? More like Fogo de Wow.") so it's hard to figure out if it lived up to my expectations or not.

Overall, it was a good experience. The salad bar is amazing and includes some of my favorite things ever (like the giant vat of hearts of palm), the beef has great flavor and the service is quick. It's a fun place for a group that gets a little loud. And nobody is going home hungry.

However, it is a very specific kind of dining experience and not one I'd want to repeat on a regular basis. During dinner, Alicia mentioned that she read a review (possibly Elizabeth Large?) describing the dining experience as "like eating in Grand Central Station." That's apt. It's distracting to be subject to a constant barrage of waiters bearing meat and large knives, and it takes a while to remember that you, as the diner, are in charge of whether you want more food or not. Even if you're little food coaster is flipped to red, meaning you're content, just watching the endless dance of the waiters sprinting from table to table to's dizzying.

Plus, I'd estimate that about a third of the meat I ate was overcooked. It was still good, but just done a little more than I'd like (in one case, a lot more).

Ultimately, it's just not my favorite kind of dining experience. I like to sit at a table and talk and relax. I also like choosing from a selection of meals that a chef has built from the ground up - I love reading menus and seeing how the chef's mind works.

But again, it was fun and the food was good. It's just not my ideal dining experience. I don't doubt, though, that the restaurant will do very well where it is - it was full last night despite rain and a less than dining-out-friendly economic situation. I'd guess that at least half the people in the restaurant were attending whatever conference was in town. (Aside to conventioneers: When you get to dinner, feel free to take off your nametag. Seriously.)

So, that's it. Ultimate verdict: we probably won't go back, at least for a long time. Though I wouldn't discourage anyone else from going. Except vegetarians. They should avoid.

Fogo de Chao on Urbanspoon


theminx said...

I haven't tried Fogo de Chao because it's atrociously expensive. I like Greenfield Churrascaria in Rockville (I think it was $30 or less per person last I ate there, sometime in early 2007). They serve meat in all varieties of doneness, and it's all delicious. Plus they have hearts of palm. :) It's a large space, and can get crowded, but if you avoid going there on a weekend, it's not too bad.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your review of Fogo de Chao! Also, thank you to theminx for recommending Greenfield in Rockville. Too Shy to Stop writer Natasha wrote a review of Fogo, which you can read here.

Mike Babcock said...

Sounds like Flemings would be a better restaurant for you. Great food and very peaceful.


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