Friday, February 28

Fogo De Chao San Jose - Preview Dinner

 Brazilian churrascaria chain, Fogo De Chao has opened a location in Northern California and they have chosen a prime corner spot in Santana Row. I attended the preview dinner earlier this week and was privileged to try most of Fogo's offerings. 
Churrascarias specialize in Portugese style barbeque. In layman terms, food comes at you from all directions in a dim sum cart manner except it is wielded on large skewers and slivers are cut onto your plate. Fogo would be my 4th churrascaria experience: the first in Long Beach, the second at Pamapas in Palo Alto, the third in Brazil. Check out my experience and first impressions.

Caipirinhas are special to Brazil. Made of sugar, limes (or fruit juice), and Cachacas (sugar cane rum), they are often sweet and fruity. There's about half a cup of sugar in each drink. Full of calories but worth a try. 

I ordered a passion fruit caipirinha which was one of my favorites in Brazil. This version was ok, a bit sour, and definitely does not hold up to the Brazilian version which had fresh passion fruit juice - seeds included. 

The spacious dining room suits the upscale Santana Row vibe. Along with all you can eat meat, diners can peruse the salad bar for greens, cured meats, cheeses, olives and peppers, and pasta salads.

One of my favorite foods in the entire universe is heart of palm. I was so excited to see they had a huge plate of fresh heart of palm, the thickness of a PVC pipe (sorry couldn't find a better comparison). This reminds me so much of Brazil which actually produces and exports heart of palm in preserved jar form. Here is the fresh version, sticking up like pillars. Why didn't I eat more?!

Each diner is given a disc with green and red sides. Per your standard stop light party rules, green means go and red means stop serving me anymore meat! Waiters bring skewers of roasted meat to your table and slice your choice cuts which you grab with tongs.

 All dat meat! I can't tell which cut is which. We really liked the lamb and I personally liked the picanha which my friend thought was a bit too salty. Top right: Fogo's special side dishes of polenta, caramelized bananas, and garlic mashed potatoes.

Fogo's highly recommended dessert is the flan made with condensed milk (left) and the papaya cream which they ran out of. I substituted with the grilled caramelized pineapple and ice cream (right). Grilled pineapple was actually kind of a big thing in Brazil when I went so this makes perfect sense. They were both delightful. I think the flan is more worth your money because it is actually a dessert as opposed to fruit.

I thought Fogo De Chao was decent. There were some elements I came to love from Brazil that they did well like the grilled pineapple, fresh heart of palm, and the lamb. The meat is definitely different than in Brazil. One can hardly blame them though. Brazil raises some of the best grass fed cattle in the world and it would definitely upset me if they shipped them all the way to San Jose because that's costly and not environmentally friendly. However, Brazilian beef is different and better. The diffrence is most obvious in their picanha, Brazil's specialty. I can't find sourcing information on Fogo's beef. Stick to the lambs and anything with a bone, they were good. Ask for rare if that's what you like.

The salad bar items were very fresh which is great. It lacked variety though and I don't believe I've seen meat and cheeses at a Brazilian churrascaria. I think the American audience appreciated it very much.

Almost forgot to the mention, the selection of Argentinian wines are really good. Try the Malbec!

Full press release for Fogo De Chao - Santana Row below

ON FEBRUARY 27, 2014

Authentic Southern Brazilian Steakhouse Brings the Best of Churrasco to Santana Row in San Jose
SAN JOSE, Calif. (February 25, 2014) — Internationally renowned Southern Brazilian Steakhouse, Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dèe shoun), opens its first Northern California location on Thursday, February 27, 2014. The restaurant, which offers upscale Churrasco (barbeque) cuisine, is located at Santana Row in San Jose, Silicon Valley’s premiere destination for shopping, dining, living, and more.
“We are excited to celebrate our first restaurant in Northern California in the heart of Silicon Valley and join the community at Santana Row,” says Fogo de Chão Chief Executive Officer Larry Johnson. “Like Brazil, the Bay Area is home to some of the best food in the world. We are looking forward to introducing the Southern Brazilian Steakhouse experience and the culinary traditions behind it to San Jose.
The Fogo de Chão dining experience is based on the centuries-old gaucho tradition known as churrasco, the art of roasting meats over an open fire, and sharing dining experiences with family and friends. To see the story of Fogo de Chão from the perspective of one of their gauchos, visit the documentary-style video recently filmed on a return trip to the farms of Brazil by clicking here
The menu focuses on 16 cuts of meat including beef, chicken, pork, and lamb carved tableside by a team of Brazilian trained gaucho chefs, led by Head Gaucho Chef Helio dos Santos Vieira. The prix-fixe experience invites guests to dine at their own pace using a double-sided, red and green disk indicating when they are ready to try the various selections of meat. This approach allows them to enjoy a variety of meats with each new cut coming right from the grill and carved tableside.
Highlights include the Picanha, the prime part of the sirloin, seasoned with sea salt or flavored with garlic – a Brazilian specialty; Cordeiro, fresh leg of lamb flavored with a special mint marinade and sliced off the bone; and Fraldinha, a bottom sirloin cut that is one of the most distinctive and flavorful cuts of meat from Southern Brazil. The restaurant also features a gourmet salad and side bar with more than 30 selections of fresh cut vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, and traditional Brazilian side dishes including Pão de Queijo – a warm cheese bread, Crispy Hot PolentaGarlic Mashed Potatoes, and Caramelized Bananas.
The menu is complemented by an award-winning 200 label wine list featuring selections from around the globe including Malbec and Carmenère varietals from South America, to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir from the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The restaurant also boasts a South American-inspired cocktail program, including many traditional drinks from Brazil, such as the Caipirinha, as well as a selection of Brazilian and domestic beers, premium liquors, after-dinner drinks and non-alcoholic beverages. The dessert menu features indulgences such as Fogo de Chão Signature Papaya Cream, Key Lime Pie, and Molten Chocolate Cake.
The nearly 9,000-square-feet, 250-seat restaurant, located on the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Olin Avenue at Santana Row, blends contemporary Northern Californian and Brazilian design and features a mix of textures, colors and materials. In addition to the main dining area, Fogo de Chão features outdoor seating, a lively bar, and three semi-private dining areas that can be combined to make larger rooms, seating from 22 to 110. With its location in the heart of Silicon Valley the restaurant was designed with the tech-savvy crowd in mind, offering fully connected private dining spaces including touch screen televisions and 60-inch projector screens, wired for everything from presentations to video conferencing. The focus on technology also flows into the bar area, which features numerous AC and USB outlets for charging phones and laptops as well as complimentary Wi-Fi.
Fogo de Chão is located at 377 Santana Row in San Jose, California. It is the 23 location in the U.S., with 32 restaurants worldwide.
Hours of operation and pricing are as follows:
Lunch – beginning Monday, March 3
$29.50 | (Salad Bar Only - $22.50)
Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Dinner – beginning Thursday, February 27
$51.50 | (Salad Bar Only - $26.50)
Monday through Thursday 5:00-10:00 p.m.
Friday 5:00-10:30 p.m.
Saturday 4:30-10:30 p.m.
Sunday 4:00-9:30 p.m.
Children 6 and under are complimentary. Children 7 to 12 are half price.  Any beverages, desserts, tax, and gratuity are additional.  An 18% gratuity is added to all parties of 6 or more.
For more information, please visit www.fogo.comFollow FOGO on Facebook.
Fogo de Chao on Urbanspoon

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