on January 21, 2013
My son had been to Chicago with his boss and they had been to this restaurant and the only thing he had on his list of things he wanted to do was to go back here. My husband and I had been to these sort of Brazilian BBQ restaurants in Rio and had experienced probably the best but if this was your first experience and you like meat then this would certainly be impressive.FOGO DE CHAOThis is a chain of Brazilian style BBQ restaurants that has restaurants in several big cities across the USA and also in Brazil. I think in total there are about twenty in the USA and seven in Brazil so not a huge chain but well represented through the two countries. The bid difference being between the two countries is price. Our Brazilian BBQ was not that expensive but my hisband nearly died when we got the bill in Chicago!BBQ ing BRAZILIAN STYLEIn the days when gauchos, Brazilian cowboys, stayed out with the herds in Southern Brazil they would BBQ chunks of meat slowly turning them on huge skewers over their open fires. These restaurants like Fogo de Chao keep this tradition alive and they too roast huge chunks of meat on skewers over open fires. They hire authentic gaucho chefs to cook the meat so that is kept tender and each cut tastes as it should.ARRIVINGWe hadn’t booked but were quite early so we were hoping to get a table. It was pretty full and we were asked if we wanted to have a drink at the bar and they would call us when a table was ready. In actual fact the table was ready almost as soon as we got our drinks so we followed the waiter through the restaurant . The place was heaving, the bar was standing room only and all the tables were full and the place was pretty big, it went on and on with lots of smaller rooms. The room were put in had about six to eight tables in it and there was a door at each end so the waiters walked through with each meat offering.THE SALAD BARThis was pretty impressive with a huge variety of different salads and cold meats, cheeses, seafood and so on. I love my salads so I was quite delighted. In Rio I didn’t actually have any of the meat because the salad bar was so impressive and full of wonderful seafood. This was not quite as impressive but still gave a huge choice.They also have a ‘sides’ section which offers polenta, garlic mashed potato, caramelised bananas and their famous warm pao de queijo or cheese bread which was indeed very tasty. You did have to be careful not to fill up on all these tasty bits if you wanted to leave room for the meat which is the main attraction at this restaurant.THEN TO THE MEATFogo de Chao are very proud of their meat and they have a range of fifteen signature cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken. What happens is that you sit at your table after getting your salads and sides and you turn your circular beer mat to green saying ‘Yes Please’ this means that every time a waiter comes through with a skewer of meat he will stop by your side and tell you what it is and you can then reject it or have slice cut off for you. If it a large chunk they will ask if you would like it rare or well cooked. I am very fussy about my meat and hate it when it is bloody. Mine has to be well cooked and not fatty at all and no funny cuts either. If the piece they had was too rare for you then they would come back next round with a well done outside slice.The cuts of meat were many and varied and some I had not heard of before. So from the sirloin we were offered ‘Picanha’ , Filet Mignon , Alcatra , FraldiInha and the rib eye is called Beef Ancho here. Apart from beef cuts we also had Cordeiro which was fresh young leg of lamb, you could also have lamb chops but I hate fighting with bony meat so declined.Pork offerings included Lombo from the pork loin which were cooked as tender fillets with parmesan and breadcrumb crusts and were actually my favourite. You could also have ribs cut from the large spare rib joint which again I can’t be bothered with but my son and his girlfriend love spare ribs and went for them in a big way.Chicken was offered as breasts wrapped in bacon, legs and wings and also chicken livers – yuk!! I hate chicken on the bone so oblky sampled the breasts wrapped in bacon and they were good.Finally they had pork sausages all cooked on a big skewer.The idea is you keep your little mat turned to green for as long as you would like to be offered meat. When you have had enough then turn it to red and they will pass you by. If you find you might manage a bit more then yoiu can turn it back to green again.WHAT DID WE THINK?My son loved it as did his carnivorous girlfriend but I didn’t feel I really got my money’s worth and my husband was so put out by the bill that he went off it straight away. He doesn’t like to feel he is being ripped off and to be truthful for what we got it was expensive. If you were someone who could eat meat till it came out of your ears then you might find it value for money but the amount I ate was minimal and we found they were not coming around with the tastier cuts and rejected quite a few offerings such as the chicken parts and chewier bits of meat.The meat was not quite as tender as I had hoped and as kept on rejecting the red bits I missed out on quite a few. Interestingly they have a disclaimer on their menu saying; " Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood , shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions."WHEN CAN YOU VISIT?The restaurant is open :Mon – Thursday 5.00 -10.00pmFriday -5.00 – 10.30pmSaturday - 4.00 -10.30pmSunday -4.00 – 9.30pmTHE SHOCKING NEWSThe prices are as follows; Lunch is $32.50 per head unless you want the salad bar only and then you pay $22.50Dinner is $49.50 per head unless you want the salad bar only and then you pay $24.50Children 5 and under are free, aged 6 to 10 are half priceDrinks and desserts tax and tips are all extra and what really annoys me is that 18% tip is automatically added to parties of 6 or more – what a cheek!! This is not unusual in the States and when there were six of us we sometimes sat at separate tables to avoid that. Our bill for the four of us came to in excess of $300 and we didn’t have that many drinks so we did feel a bit ripped off. The lunch prices are bad enough but the dinner ones are stupid money. It is a novelty and meat is expensive but not so expensive in the USA compared to here. We did find Chicago expensive generally compared to other places we have been in the USA so Fogo de Chao elsewhere may be a different price but just be prepared for an expensive night if you do visit.RECOMMENDED?It is hard to say as my son absolutely loves the place and when we were asking for directions a couple of people said ‘Oh you will love it’ and they were locals so it might just be my husband and I footing the bill that made us feel a bit bitten. I don’t feel I got my full value and my husband felt the same as we kept being offered sausages and chicken bits and some of my meat was quite chewy which was not what I like so really $50 for a few bits of meat and a salad bar is steep I feel.It was an experience and for those who have not had this experience in Brazil or Argentina then I suppose it would be nice to try once and cheaper than going to either Brazil or Argentina if you are in Chicago!
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