Now I've done DineLA a couple of times now. To me, it's not really that much of a deal. I usually feel like I could've had a cheaper meal at the place, had I gone without DineLA. (True story: I had a fun, lovely and delicious meal at Starry Kitchen that was cheaper than its $16 Dine LA prix fixe.)
Fogo de Chao really did not disappoint, though. $28 (not including tip) for lunch? Completely amazing.
The concept's pretty simple. There's a giant salad bar for you to grab some greens from. Your waiter(s) will also bring you additional plates, side dishes and drinks - but really, what you're there for is the meat, which is being carted all around the room on skewers.
To get the meat, you'll want your little button. On one side, it's red (for when you don't want meat). On the other side, it's green (for when you want meat, which you always do). For easy access to meat, I recommend that you and your party should put all the buttons on one side and turn them all red or all green. It's just simpler that way.
Now that the button's on green, the meat men - I mean, waiters - will descend upon you with skewers upon skewers of delicious meats. They'll slice off various pieces for you, depending on how you like your meat. Then you'll grab the slice with your teeny-tiny set of tongs and place it on your own plate. By the way, it was totally okay to ask for a second slice too!
We ate our hearts out! E., W. and I attempted to get every last piece of meat. I'm not sure about how E. and W. fared, but I think that I missed the Alcatra, or top sirloin (or maybe I snagged a bite of E.'s). Either way, the meats were all fairly delicious, and weirdly enough, for as much meat as I ate, I did not get the meat sweats*.
The meats that I absolutely loved? The Cordeiro, or the lamb. It was just perfectly tender and flavored, and it might beat out the lamb at Cafe Brasil, which I love. I also loved the Frango, or the chicken legs, which the servers doled out with the sausage. The chicken legs were perfectly crispy outside, and juicy and sweet inside - total perfection.
As you can probably tell, the sausage was not a fan favorite. Neither were the pork ribs, or the Costela De Porco. Actually, let me be honest: the pork ribs were incredibly, incredibly salty. E. didn't notice that it was oversalted, and he's usually the first, so maybe I just got a bad piece. Who knows?
A piece of meat that I wished that I could have re-tried was the Picanha, or Fogo de Chao's signature steak. I was silly and ate the entire salty, seared outside first before delving into the rest of my piece, so once again, I noticed the saltiness. This time, though, it wasn't bad. It just tasted like it needed meat. Meanwhile, W. ate it in reverse; since she ate the meaty inside first, she actually thought that we hadn't gotten the Picanha! So here's our advice to you: eat the two pieces together. It should taste perfectly seasoned.
Now that I've gone on and on about the meats, what about the service? Overall, it was great. From the moment that we stepped through the doors, a host introduced himself and whisked us away to our table. He asked us if it was our first time, which it was, and then he proceeded to introduce us to the concept, as well as our waiter.
That's really my only sore point about service. We were introduced to one waiter, but for one reason or another, a different waiter would occasionally come by and serve us. It made for a rather awkward ending to our meal, as the waiters didn't know who should bring out the check and who should be wrapping up the meal. Hopefully, the tip on that bill went to both of them, since they were generally pretty good.
The second waiter, by the way, was amazing at getting us side dishes. Now the salad bar at Fogo de Chao is pretty good, with all its cheeses, dressings, salads and vegetables - but oh, the side dishes! We had plantains, crispy polenta cakes, creamy puffs of bread and smooth mashed potatoes. Honestly, it was so, so delicious. I ate three of the four plantains that were served to us, and I wanted to hide the bread in W.'s bag before we left.
So incredibly sad now that I think about all the bread that we left behind. They were so delicious! And again, I did not feel like I had a giant food baby after this meal. Everything was just delicious and melt-in-your-mouth goodness that fat was the last thing on my mind.
I'm still working off this meal, though. Salads have been a key component every day for the past week, and will probably remain a key meal every day for a while. (The gym helps too!)
Fogo de Chao (5/5)
133 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
* Meat sweats n. The stench of meat that overwhelms your body and soul, as well the bodies and souls of those around you, after you've had a particularly meaty meal (e.g. Korean BBQ).
P.S. I realize that this post would've been awesome with pictures, but I honestly feel awkward, constantly taking pictures of my food. Anyone else feel that way? I promise that I'll get over it (and you'll see this in my upcoming post on the Apple Pan), but it's definitely still an issue for me. Any advice? Or should I keep on doodling my foods?