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Friday, May 09, 2008

Fogo de Chão opens in Indianapolis

Fogo de ChãoIf you're a wine-loving meat-eater, you'll want to pay a visit to the new Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse that just opened in downtown Indianapolis. (Welcome, race fans!)

Located in the newly-renovated Broadbent Building at 117 East Washington Street (aka The Building Formerly Known as The Zipper), the restaurant is contemporary and elegant, with a large central dining area, a bar and a private dining room. This Fogo de Chão (which translates to "fire of earth") is the eleventh link in a chain of restaurants started by two brothers in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1979. They opened their first U.S. location in Dallas in 1997; by the end of this year there will be 13 Fogos in this country and five in Brazil.

In the approximate center of the dining area is a massive salad bar brimming with all kinds of greenery, fresh vegetables, cheeses and a few meats. An entire wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, carved out and filled with chunks of itself, anchors one end.

After the buffet comes the main event: Meat, and lots of it! Each diner is provided with a small round disk that is green on one side and red on the other. Turning the green side up provokes a flurry of service, as waiters armed with skewers of various flame-grilled meats descend, asking "rare, medium rare or medium?" Some customer participation is occasionally required, as some tongs are provided so the diner can grab meats that are sliced off the skewers. It doesn't take long to figure out that the best plan is to flip the disk to red after two or three items accumulate on your plate — which is to say about a minute or two.

There are 15 different meats to sample, including various cuts of beef, lamb and pork, as well as chicken legs and bacon-wrapped breasts and some fabulous little pork sausages called linguica. If you identify one thing in particular you want to focus on, all you need to do is make your wishes known and an entrée-sized portion will appear on your plate. Bread and side dishes of garlic mashed potatoes, a yummy polenta and grilled bananas are served family-style.

Wine lovers should be delighted with the selection and service as well as the dining room decor, which consists mainly of the restaurant's wine collection, much of which is on display. Chances are you'll be able to find something suitable for your taste and budget on the extensive and well-organized list, from a glass of White Zin ($7.25) to a bottle of Château Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan ’00 ($925). As you would expect at a steak house, there are twice as many reds on the list as whites, including no less than a dozen from Bordeaux. There are also 11 splits available (reds and whites) and several by-the-glass selections. We drank glasses of Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (also available at $28 per bottle), which turned out to be an excellent match for the flame-grilled meats. Wine pricing is fair at about twice retail for most wines, and as you move up the list in price the markup moves down. Their wine glasses are of high quality and generously sized — a good thing, since a by-the-glass pour is a quarter of a bottle. This restaurant has earned six consecutive Awards of Excellence from the Wine Spectator for a good reason!

Beer enthusiasts don't fare as well, since just the usual suspects are available and no microbrews. However, at least one Brazilian beer (Xingu, I think) is on the list. The well-stocked bar includes several after-dinner drinks and a few single-malt Scotches. They also of course stock Cachaça, and although I didn't sample a caipirinha there, Feed Me / Drink Me reports that they make good ones.

For the quality and service (and potential quantity) that Fogo de Chão delivers, its prices are reasonable: $38.50 for dinner, $24.50 for lunch, plus drinks and dessert. The salad bar is available by itself for $19.99, so even the wayward vegetarian who happens to wander in should be able to leave happy and sated. And for the meat-loving omnivore, Fogo de Chão is simply a must-go.

Fogo de Chão
117 E. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:45 AM


"Beer enthusiasts don't fare as well, since just the usual suspects are available and no microbrews."

BOOO! I'm curious to try Xingu, though my experience with ethnic restaurants serving beer from their home country is that the beer is usually their native Bud.

Good thing I love wine too and happen to think it's far better than beer with steak!
Blogger CorrND, at 10:52 AM  
I've lived in Brazil for the past 7years and Fogo de Chao has a wonderful reputation for being an upscale restaurant using only high quality ingredients and offering top of the line products... (including the Xingu beer, which is one of the best Premium Beers made in Brazil. *In NO WAY their "native Bud!")

Also, I wouldn't go as far to call this restaurant "an ethic restaurant." It is a STEAK HOUSE with a more innovative way of preparing and serving various types of meats. So if you're a "meat and potatoes" kind of person or prefer trying "new and exciting cuisine," this place has something for everything! (The buffet serves everything from lobster bisque and fresh mozzarella to hard boiled Codorna eggs, sushi and tabouli... and of course the usual caesar salad and even french fries)

I'm excited that when I'm back home in Indy, now I have a great place to dine! Highly Recommend!!
Blogger starrlyyt, at 12:24 AM  

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