Story by Barbara and Manos Angelakis
Dining Room photo courtesy Fogo de Chão, all other photos by Manos Angelakis
Fogo de Chão®
It has been our experience after a shared lifetime of food indulgence - from Asian Night Markets to Haute Cuisine 3-Michelin-star restaurants - that the smaller the portion, the higher the quality and vis a versa. An enormous quantity of food usually indicates a lack of high-end ingredients or downright poor cooking skills. Happily, we know of an exception that proves the rule; a restaurant of the highest quality with perfectly seasoned offerings in great abundance… in fact, it can be an all you can eat place!
This delightful eatery is Fogo de Chão a Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouse) where the food and traditional Brazilian cocktails and Chilean wines from the Cachapoal Valley are of superior quality, served by a friendly, well-trained staff.
If you are unfamiliar with a traditional-style Brazilian Steakhouse, a visit to one of Fogo de Chão restaurants is a taste treat not to be delayed. Churrasco is the art of roasting meat over an open flame i.e. grilling, the way South Americans prefer their meat cooked and, if you are a dedicated carnivore, you will definitely enjoy the cuts that you will be served in any of the traditional churrascarias that dot the cities and countryside.
The cuts available during dinnertime in the the Fogo® Churrasco Experience are:
Picanha (Prime part of the Top Sirloin)
Filet Mignon (Tenderloin)
Alcatra (Top Sirloin)
Fraldinha (Bottom Sirloin)
Costela (Beef Ribs)
Cordeiro (Prime Lamb Steak and Chops)
Costela de Porco (Pork Ribs)
Picanha de Porco (Pork Picanha)
Linguiça (Spicy Pork Sausage)
Medalhões com Bacon (Bacon-Wrapped Chicken and Bacon-Wrapped Steak)
Side dishes served throughout the meal are a delicious warm pão de queijo (cheese bread), crispy polenta, chunky yucca fries (deep-fried Cassava), mashed potatoes, and caramelized bananas.
The inclusive price per person is $39.99 for lunch and $59.99 for dinner, incorporating the Market Table and Feijoada Bar and the side dishes. There are many other pricing variations on the ordering theme, such as:
Their prime “Indulgent Cuts” as individual selections, sized to be shared by four or more. Or their “Select Cuts”, 8-10 oz. of your choice of a fire-roasted meat carved tableside that also includes the Market Table & Feijoada Bar and Brazilian side dishes.
Locally, there are a couple of Fogo de Chão locations in New York City, and we had eaten in the Manhattan one when we lived and worked there. The restaurant group is opening this new location in White Plains, New York, and we were invited to visit just prior to its opening on April 6, 2021. It is the same rodizio concept; high quality and variety of grilled meats, a few chicken and seafood dishes, an open salad bar and as many desserts as you wish, all at a fixed price. Fogo de Chão chefs are Brazilian-trained to butcher, season and grill meats according to the centuries-old technique of churrasco.
The first thing to consider when arriving at a Fogo de Chão restaurant is ordering a tasty caipirinha or other traditional cocktail before perusing the abundant Market Table, the appetizer and salad bar featuring all kinds of tasty salads, exotic fruits, smoked meats and smoked fish.
There is also a feijoada station (Brazil’s national dish) which is in a category all its own. But a word of caution! Don’t fill up on the variety of treats because once you are ready for the main event, as is the custom in a Brazilian steakhouse, roving servers dressed as Brazilian Gauchos (cowboys) offer continuous tableside service carrying skewers containing a variety of different fire-grilled and roasted meats from sausage to fillet. Be it double cut Lamb Chops, Ribeye or 42-day aged Tomahawk Ribeye, they deftly slice off pieces - that you guide to your plate with a handy tong, according to your desired size and rate of doneness. This process will continue, until you tell them to stop.
And don’t forget to save a tiny bit of space for the tempting desserts.
The Fogo de Chão restaurant in White Plains is located in the heart of the city, at the corner of Main & Church streets (235 Main Street), in a beautifully restored 19th century beaux-arts bank building which is listed in the US National Register of Historic Places; it features artfully designed inlaid marble walls, a triple-story-high (20 foot) decorated wood ceiling, and friendly gargoyles atop the pillars situated along the walls. The huge room allows for tables discretely spaced from one another and a massive fully stocked bar. The one negative is the sound reverberations due to the size of the space, that does little to add to the enjoyment of this unique dining experience. Hopefully by our next visit that situation will have been defused.
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