Fogo de Chão – and Chow I Did

At a recent business trip to Chicago a group of us went to a local restaurant called Fogo de Chão.  This restaurant is a chain, with 25 locations in the US. Fogo de Chão translates as “Fire on the Ground” and summarizes the traditional gaucho method of roasting meats over an open fire.  At this traditional style Brazilian Steakhouse, the “gauchos” come by with skewer after skewer of meat that as long as your “token” is showing green will continue to pile it on your plate.

The menu is all you can eat. One price and you eat until you go into a coma. I started my meal with a very overpriced drink, which in their defense was incredibly strong.  I started with their special “Mojito” which basically was a Mojito sans the mint leaves.  So basically a sugary, limey rum drink.

They then lead you to their vast and expansive salad bar.  Take extra care not to overindulge in this area. It is a trap!! They fill you up with a variety of salads, cheeses, meats and marinated vegetables.  The shaved brussels sprouts salad with bacon was exceptional, however, and should not be missed.  They had some hot selections on the salad bar which I did not even look at.  Rice and beans, soups, all designed to fill you up and prevent you from binging on the meat.

They also bring some sides to the table.  Fried polenta, which was really good. Kind of a cross between corn bread and a french fry.  Garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, which we all agreed would have been best left for desert with some ice cream. Lastly, what they call PÃO DE QUEIJO or warm cheesy bread rolls, which were more like a cheesy popover. Made with sweet and sour yucca flour and Parmesan cheese, they simply should also not be missed.

Then comes the meat.  Skewer after skewer of meat that you pull off with tiny tongs and place on your already overflowing huge pile of meat. Beef includes prime beef, beef tenderloin, rib eye, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and beef ribs. If you are lucky they will bring you filet medallions wrapped in bacon.  They did that night for us, but unfortunately were too rare for even me to eat,  the bacon under cooked and the beef was blue. Besides that, the beef was all delicious, however towards the end you can’t tell a bottom from a top, from a loin!!

Other meats included Lamb, pork ribs, chicken, pork loin, pork sausage, and I heard their was shrimp, I just never got any.

You can also special order Salmon, Chilean sea bass and shrimp cocktail, all at an additional price.

I was so stuffed at this point I simply couldn’t move.  The desert tray was brought out and there was just no way I could partake.  Others at my table enjoyed a milk cream cake, a strawberry cheesecake the size of my head and the Crème brûlée should have been x-rated by the response eating it!!

We had to walk back to the hotel, which was a good thing and we opted for about an hour walk around the outlet mall just to try and work off some of our bloat. If you have never been to a Brazilian Steakhouse, you need to go, at least once. There is a restaurant in Novi called “Gauchos” which has the same experience and basic menu. But save your pennies!! It will be an expensive ride!!

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