Thursday, May 08, 2008

Preview: Fogo de Chao

Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao is a ballet of meat. At the high point of the evening, it was as if waiters carrying trays, gaucho chefs with their skewers of meat, bus boys, managers, and patrons where weaving themselves through a complicated dance in a crowded dining room all serving at once. No collisions! Or I might have been approaching meat coma.

For those of you who've been waiting, it's officially open. And frankly, even if you haven't been holding your breath, you should try Fogo de Chao's Brazilian churrascaria at least once. The newest big concept chain to open downtown will surely appeal to tourists if not locals, and appeal is what they'll need to fill the 300 seat space at the bottom of the Broadbent (nee "Zipper") Building. Indianapolis is their 11th restaurant in the US in addition to the 5 in Brazil. And size? This restaurant isn't their biggest by a long shot - the Chicago and Houston restaurants take those honors.

The flatiron corner of the building is the bar -- with the flaming stained glass Fogo de Chao window. Starting with caipirinhas is pretty mandatory here -- and they make fine ones. The dining room is spacious with a steakhouse ambiance. (A separate private dining room is sure to find takers.) If you've eaten Churrascaria -- Brazilian style, you know the rest of the drill: Large buffet with a surplus of fresh vegetables, salads, cheeses, and a bit of charcuterie. (We can take bets on how long it takes them to get through that entire *wheel* of parm.) Then, once you're ready, you turn over your green card and -- bang -- it's a flurry of meat! We peaked into the kitchens and each "gaucho chef" (the ones with the funny pants) is in charge of one cut or type of meat which he alone seasons, cooks, and serves in the dining room. The enormous grill/roasting rack was impressive holding at least 25-30 slots for rotisserie skewers, but the real sight was the traffic coming in and out of it at full speed. These guys know their meat.

I'm fairly certain we didn't even try it all -- but I liked the linguica (little pork sausages), costela de porco (pork ribs!), the cordeiro (leg of lamb), the fraldinha (beef sirloin), and the filet mignon. Somehow we missed the picanha -- a sirloin cut seasoned with garlic. Ah, next time. There's so much here, you'll leave quite a bit to next time. Meat also arrives with hot side dishes including mashed potatoes, fried yucca (not French fries), and carmelized banana along with a basket of light gougeres.

The wine list was, not surprisingly, heavy on the reds with decent but not overly long lists of Chilean and Argentinian wines. You'll also find substantial California, French, and Spanish options. (I had a Louis Martini by the glass.) The dessert list is long but at the top is their house specialty -- a papaya cream with creme de cassis that was surprisingly light and refreshing after all the grilled beef, pork, and lamb we'd been eating.

Pricing works as a flat fee -- $38.50 per person for everything at dinner; $24.95 at lunch. Desserts, wine, and cocktails extra. They're open for dinner 7 days a week and lunches on Monday-Friday. (Salad bar only -- $19.50.)

Tip: If you're going to valet park at the restaurant, you have to approach from the East. The front doors are on Washington and it's one way -- going West. There's also a garage on Penn right next door to John's Wines -- $3 after 5 p.m. I didn't take pictures, but Chris over at DIG-B took some external shots.


Christopher said...

After last night I'm going vegetarian for a couple weeks!

Andrea said...

I went last night and LOVED it. I think it's a great value for what you get.

CorrND said...

Renee -- I don't know if you noticed, but is the private dining room along Washington, to the left of the main building entrance? I noticed that space while I was walking around taking pictures and wasn't sure if that was a separate retail space or somehow connected to Fogo. I'm guessing Fogo.

Thanks for the link, btw!

braingirl said...

Not sure what space you mean, but it's not the private dining room. (There is off the kitchen with windows that face, I think, the diagonal street and another small room off the main dining room that can be partitioned off for two very small private spaces.) None have seperate entrances.

CorrND said...

Eh, my memory is probably failing me. Somehow I didn't actually take a picture of that end of the building to refer to, but the spot I'm talking about is the set of windows that starts to the left of the entrance in this picture. I'm probably just imagining that there was a door!

alexis said...

Just found your blog and love it! Thanks for the update on Fogo de Chao. We've been to Texas de Brzail in Chicago and Orlando and loved them. So, this is a welcome addition to Indy!

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braingirl said...

I have no issue with negative comments about a place -- but if all you're going to say is "it sucked", try to give us a little reason why. Thanks!