Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fogo de Chao Churrascaria ~ Atlanta, Georgia

  I fortunately reached a historic day, as I turned the ripened age of fifty.  I sound like a rotting piece of fruit, but this called for a celebration. My wife was perplexed over where we should celebrate until she started a search on Urbanspoon. She chose Fogo de Chao Churrascaria after reading several reviews. She hit a home run. We had a fantastic time and an excellent dinner. However, as usual, there is a story.

  While relaxing before dinner, I had done some research about Brazilian food. Many of my friends are world travelers. So naturally, I asked my Brazilian friend Judy about what to expect at a Brazilian restaurant. She jumped for joy (if you can do that on line) as I was about to dine at her favorite restaurant. She explained to me what foods would be available. She instructed me to ask for "maminha na manteiga" for dinner and "Mousse de Maracuja" for dessert.

  Judy seems like a sweet woman and has never been hostile to me. However, after translating maminha na mantegia, I wondered if this would be her version of a birthday prank. She had instructed me to ask for "titty butter" from the Gauchos. I was not sure if I would be able ask for this special cut of meat without getting slapped. After much ado, Judy assured me that "titty butter" was a literal translation. She also assured me that in no way was it meant to be a comment that would fall into that "grey area". Yeah, right. "Please pass the titty butter."

  We booked an early reservation on Saturday night. From the suburbs, with Braves baseball traffic jamming I-75/I-85, it only took forty five minutes to arrive at Fogo de Chao's free valet parking service. The bar swarmed with activity upon our arrival. Ladies wearing summer blouses with matching purses and four inch sandals garnished the bar the way that limes decorate a Brazilian cocktail. The entry had an energy of anticipation.  The mingling of the hosts and guests at the bar pleasantly distracted us upon entering. While the hostess seated us immediately, I noticed no Southern slang, such as Ya'll, honey, sugar, or any other derivative of Sir or Ma'am in her language. What a pleasure (although I enjoy a decent "sugar pie" every now and again.)! On the way to the table, the expansive and never-ending wine racks mesmerized me.

  Servers dodged the Gaucho dudes wearing funny-looking boots, and wide black belts, toting hot skewers of cooked protein. Every worker scurried about in organized chaos. Amazingly the staff did not run into each other, the way mindless Atlantians do while driving in the rain on I-285. The hostess guided us to a comfortable white tablecloth two-top. The dimmed room gave out a cozy vibe. The server immediately came to the table and told us the routine. A blizzard of information attacked our frontal lobes. The quad-fold brochure-looking menu was even more dizzying than the waiter's interpretation of the same. Therefore, I put the "menu" down and ordered some Brazilian red wine. I figured out relatively quickly that this was a fancy-dance-all-you-can-eat. (I am sure someone will school me one day on the proper use of hyphens.) Where is Nell?

  Part of the routine is the red and green disks placed on the tables. Yes, green equals go, and red equals stop. The Gaucho dudes will not stop coming, until one flips the disk to red. Remember, I gave fair warning. The server gave us the green light to go to the salad bar. Now, take "THAT" image of a salad bar out of your mind. It was more like a salad hill than a salad bar. I did veer away from the giant marinated beans, but I found the choices unique and fresh. I especially enjoyed the Heart of Palm and the Tabouli salad. As I started to stock my plate, I heard "Don't fill up on the salad and pastas." It was Judy whispering in my ear.

  Shuddering hearing her voice in my head, I stopped filling my plate and settled down to enjoy my salad. Soon thereafter, my wife and I looked at the red disks, then looked at each other. This continued for several moments until we took the plunge and flipped the disks to green. A whirlwind of boots, belts, and skewered meat encircled the table. The Gauchos quickly delivered Sirloin, chicken, lamb, sausage, Ribeye, and Filet until stopped with the red disk. Every cut was excellent. 

  Then I just had to ask for it. I had long forgotten how to ask in Portuguese for the cut of meat that Judy had described as the best. I decided to cut to the chase, and I asked the waiter for "the meat that translates to 'titty butter' in Portuguese". He let us know that although it is a remarkable cut of sirloin, they were not serving the Tri-tip sirloin at this time. Rats.

  We did enjoy the Flan and the Passion Fruit desserts. The entire experience was delightful. I recommend Fogo de Chao for any special occasion.

On a scale of one to five meat skewers, Fogo de Chao Churrascaria, I give thee five meat skewers.
Thanks for reading!
Fogo de Chao Churrascaria on Urbanspoon

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