Each time I have been in Brazil I visited a branch of Fogo de Chão, (pronounced ‘fo-go dee shaun’) a chain of churrascaria style restaurants that offers a rodízio style of service!
Churrascaria is a cooking style over flames not unlike barbecue. This restaurant chain has an army of serving staff dressed like gauchos (Brazilian cowboys) who come to the table with up to 15 categories of beef with skewers of meat and sharp carving knives several times in the course of a meal . The diner is provided with a coloured card one side of which is red and the other green. The servers will only bring meat if the green side is showing.
For a fixed price diners can enjoy a salad followed by what seems like an infinite variety of salads, cured meats, smoked fish and cheese. Then diners are served gorgeous slices of meat at the table that have been roasted over open flames.
These include the picanha – the prime part of the sirloin, top and bottom sirloin, filet mignon, beef ancho from the prime part of the rib eye, ribs, leg of lamb, chicken legs and garlic beef. While customers can eat all they wish for a fixed price, the meal is especially appetizing because it is served so elegantly. A nice touch is that plates are replaced throughout the meal ensuring that one is not scavenging through a scrap heap as the meal progresses. There is also an attractive range of desserts!
This business was established in 1979 by two brothers, Jair and Arri Coser and the first of 16 branches in the United States was opened in Dallas in 1997. There are now branches of Fogo de Chão in Beverly Hills, Scottsdale, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Washington DC. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Denver, Minneapolis and Chicago.
I am surprised and disappointed to discover that there are no branches in my beloved New England!