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Fogo de Chão

16 Mar

Fogo de Chão
Visited Friday, March 4th, 2011

fogo de chao exterior

Ryan
I had never eaten at Fogo de Chao, but in the days leading up to the big night, many friends and co-workers told me about their experiences and really hyped this up as being more of an event than just another dinner at a restaurant. Like the Mongolian BBQ places and their bowl-stacking techniques, people have developed methods at Fogo to ensure maximum meaty intake. Some of the advice given to me included “avoid the temptations of the salad bar” and “there’s only one side to the card, and that’s green.”

ryan salad bar

I am a big carnivore; meat of all kinds is welcome inside my belly. At Fogo, I was like a kid in a candy store—succulent beef, chicken, pork, and even lamb at every turn! First, however, I ordered the house cocktail which was sort of a boozy Brazilian mojito with an entire lime sliced up. So good, I ordered two (and was only charged for one!) Some people have told me the salad bar is the highlight of Fogo; true, it was loaded with some great breads, vegetables, and even some other cuts of meat, but I knew I was only in this for the meat. I took a big piece of asparagus, a slice of bread, and smoked salmon and then waited for the servers to arrive with the meats.

drink

I don’t even know where to begin. I could sit here for 17 paragraphs telling you about each meat, but for the sake of you actually reading this whole post, I’ll just tell you my favorites. #1 was definitely the filet mignon. I could go to a different restaurant and order a filet only twice the size of the slice I was served at Fogo and be charged $30 for my meal. Here, that portion of filet ended up being about $1.50 when you average it all out, and it was the best I’ve ever had. My mouth has begun to salivate thinking about eating another piece of that!

#2 was the house specialty, the picanha, a cut of top sirloin. Shaped like a C on the poker, it was equally as tender and flavorful as the filet mignon. Other top cuts were the Linguica pork sausages and the bacon-wrapped chicken. If I were to go again, I’d focus on those four first and foremost. But that’s not to say that the others were less satisfactory, because they all were good. Seriously, all 17 were excellent cuts of meat. However, the rack of lamb was probably my least favorite. The leg of lamb was much tastier. Even the pork tenderloin, seasoned in my typically despised Parmesan, was outstanding.

picanha

Remember the Scrubs where Turk eats ten steaks at dinner and goes to the hospital in agony? I was warned about the “meat coma” by several friends and co-workers. And while I didn’t need my stomach pumped like Turk, I hit the uncomfortable stage. My heart rate sped up and I began seeing things—I thought a banana was a sausage and later I thought a piece of lamb was a chocolate-covered strawberry. Ten minutes later I was polishing off Lauren’s cheesecake for dessert, so I guess it was short-lived.

cheesecake

What else can be said? I have not had such a fun restaurant experience before. It was truly an event to anticipate, not just dinner at another restaurant. That said, it must never become a regular thing. I hope that we can visit once per year in the future for special occasions, or during the special restaurant weeks in Minneapolis with the discounted rates.

orchid

Lauren

I had been waiting and waiting for the next Restaurant Week with one goal in mind: Fogo! So when the dates were announced, Ryan hopped on OpenTable and booked us a four-top for the Friday night, and we talked the Rosoks into joining us for dinner. When we arrived it was absolutely slammed! I guess the word about the good deal to be had was out. It didn’t matter though, because the restaurant is so huge that we were seated in no time. After a quick explanation from our waiter about the “card” system and a round of drinks ordered, we were off to the salad bar!

Unlike my dear husband, I could definitely see myself going to town on the salad bar. I like meat but I’m more of a veggie eater than he is! So I found it tough to not fill upon the tasty things lining the salad bar; I limited it to some bread with balsamic vinegar, red peppers, lettuce and endive, mozzarella, broccoli and artichoke bottoms. Oh, and some smoked salmon! All of it was so delicious, the smoked salmon especially was amazing. It was definitely difficult for me to set the salad aside and ready myself for the onslaught of meat.

salad bar 1

So, unlike Ryan I did not try all of the meats. I first tried the garlic beef, which was not a favorite of the rest of the group. I liked it because it had some delicious charred bits and great garlic flavor. Next up were two bacon wrapped items, chicken tenders and filet. The chicken was amazing, but the bacon-wrapped filet was not as good. I think it’s the difference in the two meats – you definitely want to cook bacon fully, but cooking filet to well-done ruins it! Another surprise favorite was the linguica sausage, which was very spicy. With all of the prime beef cuts, I didn’t expect to love the sausage but it was delicious. And of course, I really liked both the ‘house specialty’ picanha top sirloin but the regular, non-bacon wrapped filet mignon was definitely the best – the favorite of the whole group.

meat

I really do think I could be satisfied with a meal at Fogo without the meat, and that is helped by the never-ending sides. The polenta was amazing. Frankly I didn’t think the potatoes were worth eating and the plaintains (which I normally love) were just so-so.

side dishes big announcement

Ambiance – It’s a little hard to get accustomed to the non-stop servers offering you meat, but we did okay after getting over the initial shock. It was very busy during Restaurant Week, of course, filled with happy diners chowing down on what had to be at least 30 whole cows.
Service – Very enthusiastic and prompt…except when it was time for the bill. We sat for quite a long time waiting for our server to bring us back our credit cards.
Food – Deeeelicious! Ryan may have stuffed himself full but I kept my meat intake under control, which was difficult at times. I even managed to order and eat a little bit of dessert!
Overall experience – A very fun night! It was definitely a great bargain during Restaurant Week. If not for the special deal, I wouldn’t have felt like I could have justified the cost but this was an awesome treat. Ryan is already looking forward to the next restaurant week…

The Necessities
Fogo de Chão
645 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN
612.338.1344

Have you eaten at Fogo de Chão? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below!