This past Wednesday we were invited down to Fogo de Chao (www.fogodechao.com) the night before it opened to try out its offerings. I will be honest that when we were invited, the first thing that went through my head is, “Wow, that’s only a few blocks away from the Rodizio Grill. Either the folks at Fogo are crazy for setting up so close to another very popular Brazilian steakhouse or they must think they are just that much better and I was very interested to find out which it was.
If you haven’t been to a Brazilian steakhouse before, it is a pretty interesting set up. When you first enter you see several servers moving around the room very quickly. They carry different meats on skewers from table to table and it seems to be a bit chaotic. But after you watch it a bit it actually resembles some well choreographed dance. The basic concept is it’s an all you can eat steakhouse….
Yes, yes I know most of us think of all you can eat type places and just know the food is going to be fair at best, but somehow that is not the case here. The meat is brought to your table and carved tableside for you and somehow it is always served nice and hot. There is also a large salad bar (though by calling the one at Fogo a salad bar is doing it an injustice). The salad bar is all you can eat as well, which makes a big problem as far as I am concerned. The darn salad bar had so many things I wanted to try it made it hard to save room for the meats.
Part 1: The “salad bar”
After we sat down and our drink orders were taken they brought us some hot cheese bread.
He says: These were hot and with a nice bit of gooey cheese in the middle. After enjoying one of those we headed over to the salad bar.
She says: The small cheese biscuits on our table were divine. I could have easily filled up on them.
He says: Wow, this is not your normal everyday salad bar the first thing we ran into was marinated shitake mushrooms followed by several different peppers, fresh heart of palm, artichoke, incredible sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, fresh ball mozzarella cheese, 3 different cheeses, some very nice salmon (yes on the salad bar) and other meats, fresh bread and of course 3 or 4 different salads. Another nice touch was some nice Olive oil and Balsamic sitting on top of the bar. I am not going to go through each item but everything was very good with the stand outs for me being the red peppers which were sweet with a nice but not over powering rush of heat at the end, he wonderful asparagus, and the shitake mushrooms… mmmmm mushrooms.
She says: Fresh cut cheeses, smoked salmon, tuna salad, beets, peppers, and more. We knew there was a lot of meat to come, but we couldn’t help ourselves. I know I gravitated to the beets (haven’t had fresh ones for years and reminded me of my youth) and tuna salad.
When we finished enjoying that, we were given fresh plates and my father (for a steakhouse seemed to be a good place to bring dad)ordered some wine which they seem to have a great selection.
While we were waiting for his wine to come they brought out 3 small dishes which were refilled several times during the night. The first plate had cooked bananas on it which they recommend taking a bite in between bites as a palate cleanser. The second had some mashed potatoes and the third some fried polenta with parmesan cheese on top. The potatoes were good but nothing really special. The polenta, now that was yummy with a nice little crisp texture and a wonderful taste which in many other places would have made a nice starter. The bananas, now those I really really liked. YUM and definitely had it more often than in between meats.
Part 2: Meat!
At a Brazilian steakhouse when you are ready to have meat brought to the table you turn over a coaster at your table from red (no more please) to green. Once green is turned over you normally wait a few minutes before it’s properly noticed, then the meat comes. Each time we did this the servers appeared like magic with one of 15 different cuts of meat on a skewer. When they arrive they will ask how you like your meat (medium, rare, etc) and cut you off a piece based off that. Then they are off and another server comes in to offer you another item. When you have enough on your plate you turn your coaster back to red and enjoy your food until you are ready for more.
I am not going to go over everything we had that but will mention the high and lows.
Best: “Picanha” which is the house specialty. This is a sirloin cut and seasoned with sea salt. I also enjoyed the Filet Mignon. Both of these cuts of meats were incredible and melted in your mouth. It was tender and perfectly cooked. I have been to very good steakhouses that did not have meat this good and the ones that did have meat this good you could defiantly not keep on asking for more!
Other memorable cuts were the” Lombo” pork loin filets crusted with parmesan. These were also incredible and would be something I would recommend seeking out purposely if you do head out there.
The other meats with one exception were all very well cooked and prepared and we made sure to try each one (even if towards the end we were asking them to cut the smallest bit they could). It is amazing to me that they can serve so many different items table side constantly and keep them hot and perfectly cooked. Some sort of magic if you ask me.
Only one item to me was not very good. That was the costela de poreo (pork ribs). I found my cut to be a bit dry and so did not enjoy them but to be fair both Barb and my father who came along with us enjoyed it.
She says: For me, the filet mignon was cooked to perfection. It melted in my mouth. If I would have only had the filet, I would have been very happy. But, to be fair, I did try the other meats as well. I have to agree with Jonathan about the lombo. Here’s the description from the website: The pork loin is sliced into filets and encrusted with a rich Parmesan cheese coating before roasting over an open flame. It was tasty and delicious. My third favorite was the Picanha, which Jonathan already mentioned. The side dishes were pretty basic, but I can always eat good mashed potatoes with onions. The polenta was alright, but I didn’t find it as good as Jonathan did. The banana was very good too, and I could have had more of it. The servers were fantastic and on top of everything. Once a plate was empty or just low, a new one was brought out right away. I wonder what kind of training takes place for a restaurant of this caliber.
Part 3: Dessert
When we finally turned over to the red side of the indicator for the last time and prepared ourselves to go we were asked if we wanted to try dessert. We looked at each other and decided, “What the heck!” Any thought of diets or portion control had been blown away that night.
He says: Suffice it to say the desserts were of the same quality of the meal. So good in fact we actually polished them off completely even after that huge meal and that is a compliment indeed. My father could not quit talking about the coffee that he had with dessert, not being a coffee drinker myself I cannot say, but for him to praise his coffee it must have been darn good.
She says: When they first offered dessert, I had half of “no” out of my mouth before Jonathan and Ed were saying “yes”. We each got something different so we could try each others. I got crème brule which was delicious. Jonathan had molten chocolate cake with ice cream and Ed had Fogo de Chao’s Signature Papaya Cream. All the desserts were very good, but we were so stuffed by that time, I think I could have walked home.
We can see now why they felt confident enough to place Fogo de Chao where they did. In our opinion it is at a higher level than its close neighbor. From the prompt attentive wait staff to the perfectly cooked meats and great salad bar only one thing really comes to mind when we both think of that night…… YUMMMMMM.
Next time you’re in downtown Denver, and in the mood for some great meat, give Fogo de Chao a chance. I don’t think it possible you could leave disappointed and you defiantly won’t leave hungry.
Thanks again for visiting our Colorado dining blog. If you have any questions or comments feel free to write us either here or at jonathan or barb @milehigheater.com.
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