Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs carve delectable, high-quality cuts of meat at your table after roasting over an open flame. Participate in the Full Churrasco Experience at Fogo de Chão and encounter the culture and cuisine of Southern Brazil.
Location: 623 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, California – at the Irvine Spectrum Center.
Menu: The Full Churrasco Experience (the most traditional) is a fixed-price menu and includes all premium and Brazilian cuts of meat. Servers bring authentic side dishes of crisped polenta, caramelized banana, mashed potatoes, and cheese rolls to your table.
A trip to the Market Table offers many unusual fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, and charcuterie. The Feijoada Bar includes a soup of the day, Black Bean Stew with Sausage, and Farofa, which is toasted yuca flour with bacon.
Fire-roasted meats like ribeye, lamb chops, and Picanha (the house specialty seasoned with rock salt and is the most prized Brazilian steak), come in 20 oz. and 32 oz. cuts designed to be carved at the table and shared. They are called Indulgent Cuts, which are premium grade and can be added to the experience.
Seafood options are available a-la-carte. A weekend Brazilian Brunch includes omelet and waffle stations, and the Bar Fogo offers craft cocktails, small plates, Churrasco meat boards, or the Picanha Burger. Happy Hour occurs Monday through Friday with live music on Thursday evenings.
Desserts include unique Papaya Cream, Brazilian-style Flan, Crème de Coconut and other sweets like Molten Chocolate Cake, Crème Brûlée, Key Lime Pie, and New York Cheesecake.
Thoughts: Brazilian churrasco is a traditional art of cooking over charcoals and open flames dating back to the 17th century in Southern Brazil. Following that, Italian and German immigrants to South America were influential to the cuisine in the 1800s. The immigrants brought smoked salmon, cured meats, caper berries, Buffalo Mozzarella, and antipasti, which are all high in nutrients and health benefits.
Your meal starts with a visit to the Market Table. Made of white Carrera marble, the Market Table holds an array of colorful and unusual fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and cured meats. Healthy choices like these are the centerpiece of Brazilian eating. This is the perfect place to try something new like the flamboyant Dragon Fruit or Star Fruit or tangy little Peppadew Peppers.
When you are ready for the meat course, you signal the gaucho servers by flipping the small coaster at the side of your plate from red to green. Doing this throughout your meal will promptly bring succulent, freshly carved slices of meat to your dinner plate.
Cuts of quality meat like the prime part of top sirloin, filet mignon, or ribeye are threaded onto large skewers and fire-roasted over an open flame by the gaucho chefs. After a brief rest for the meat to absorb the juices, the roasted, meat-laden skewers are presented at your table. The beef is exceedingly tender and flavorful with your choice of medium, medium rare, and rare doneness.
The traditional side dishes complement every meal with varied textures and flavors and make an exciting encounter for your palate. For example, little cheese muffins, Fogo Pão de Queijo, are made with the primary ingredients of eggs, manioc flours, parmesan cheese, and milk. These delectable, gluten-free little bites have a crisp outside and a warm pocket of air cushioning the cheese inside.
The national cocktail of Brazil is the Caipirinha. The Caipirinha, made with sugarcane hard liquor, sugar, and lime, is light and refreshing. Some use it today as a remedy for the common cold, and I am eager to try the Caipirinha to relieve my cold symptoms.
The Fogo de Chão Mendoza Argentinian Malbec is perfectly paired with the beef skewers. However, if you prefer a different wine, there is a wall with two floor-to-ceiling cabinets containing an assortment of bottled wine from which to choose.
To finish your meal with flan is a little trip to heaven. This Brazilian custard is very dense, and the caramel sauce embraces the dessert with a sweet and light sauce.
Price Range: Weekend Brazilian Brunch ranges from $35-43; Weekday lunch ranges from $15-40; Dinners range from $33-62 with enhanced Indulgent Cuts at $98. Happy hour taste and sips range from $4-8.
Disclosure: Fogo de Chão hosted my husband and me for dinner, which was an exceptional experience, and we look forward to many return visits.
Julie is a member of TravMedia, PPA and ITWPA and can also be found at www.jdptravels.com.
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