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Posts Tagged ‘fogo de chao’

The other night Yuki and I used up another Groupon that was about to expire. We were intrigued by the $30 savings from an all-you-can-eat Brazillian steakhouse, yet one that’s different from the Brazzaz’s and Fogo’s of the world. This Groupon was for Al Primo Canto. At the time they had two locations, one at 749 N Clark and one at 5414 W Devon. The Clark location would have been a quick busride for us, but for whatever reason they closed that one down before we used the Groupon. Oh well, what can you do? So, we drove up to Edgebrook.

The location looks very generic on the outside. It’s a small little strip of storefronts right on the intersection of Devon and Central. The Metra rolls by about 1/2 block to the west. When we saw the facade we weren’t real excited about going inside. Once inside though, it was a different story. I wish I had a good pic of the interior, but it was the complete opposite of the exterior. It was very warm with lots of wood and really was a comfortable atmosphere. They do need a little better exhause system though as we both smelled like smoke when we left. The grills are in the back, but somehow the smoke fills the entire place. It’s not too bad, but will absorb into your clothes and hair, especially if you have a thick Jew-fro like me (and I’m just talking about my tuchas!).

The main difference between Al Primo Canto and other Brazzilian steakhouses is that there are no gouchos walking around with huge skewers of meat and there is no mile long salad bar. You can either order a la carte, or all-you-can-eat. We opted for the all-you-can-eat option in order to try out the various cuts of meat.

The meal started off with cheese pop-overs, flat bread, and eggplant caponatto. The eggplant was great, it tasted very similar to baba ghanoush.

Then they brought out three pasta dishes, all with fetucini. One had a mushroom sauce, one tomato sauce, and one garlic and herb. The pasta was all very simple, but tasted pretty good. The noodles were nicely al dente.

Next came the meats and starches. Fried potatoes with a blue cheese sauce, fried polenta with parmesan cheese, a plate with lamb and beef both grilled on large skewers typical of Brazillian steakhouses on top of sauteed green beans and pearl onions, and a couple pieces of grilled chicken.

They also brought out a mixed green salad.

The beef and lamb were a little dry due to overcooking on the grill, but not so much that it ruined the dinner. The flavors and quality of the meat were pretty damn good. I will say that the chicken was outstanding! Crisp skin and juicy meat they covered it in fresh sage. I liked that a lot.

I washed everything down with a couple of caparinhas. Not too sweet, but could have used a little more cachaca.

We split a flan for dessert. It was served with a raspberry couli, powdered sugar, and a blackberry garnish. It was ok, a little dense for our tastes. Don’t quote me on this but it didn’t taste homemade. It wasn’t terrible though.

As for the service I will say that the server and bussers were extremely attentive and on the ball…for the most part. We had actually commented a few times to each other at how good the service was until we asked for a box to take our leftovers home. That’s where the wrench was thrown. Appearantly they do not allow you to take home leftovers from the all-you-can-eat menu. I told them how ridiculous it was that they were going to throw away all of that perfectly good food that we were paying for. The server brought the manager over who, again, wouldn’t allow a box to be brought over. He said he’d have to speak with the owner and I told him to let me speak to the owner. So, the owner came over and explained the reasoning behind this. I guess people used to take advantage and would order more dishes just to take home. While I can understand that we were never even aware that we could order more meats or pasta. We were under the assumption that what was brought out was the meal, plain and simple. A little back and forth and finally he agreed to let us take our food home since the server never explained how they operate. I would have won even if the server did just because I’m an argumentative bastard who doesn’t give up. Plus, how can you throw away all of that food? This world is on the brink of a major food crisis. People in Japan right now would love a full meal to eat, not to mention all of the 3rd world countries or even a lot of people in America (Yuki even brought up Japan’s crisis).

In the end though, the owner did do right by us. We didn’t order any refills of any food so he didn’t feel cheated. Because of that we got our lunch the next day.

Overall, I would say that Al Primo Canto is a very average restaurant. The food is good, the service for the most part is good, but nothing is special. If we lived in Edgebrook we’d probably go there every once in a while. It is not worth a drive though. There are way too many places much closer to us that serve better food at similar or even lower prices. So, while we’ll probably never be back, I can’t say that the place isn’t worth a stop, it’s just not worth going out of your way for.

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My buddy Tony over at Gimme A Bite! recently wrote about an experience he and his wife had over at Zed451. While I’ve never been there, it brought up hunger pangs craving Fogo de Chao, a gluttony full of meat-eating sin I have had the pleasure of enjoying.

 

I went for a buddy’s bachelor party and there were 20 of us meeting up there. If you knew my buddy Mark, you’d know that there really is no other place to start his bachelor party. I think he got more aroused from all of the skewers of food than from watching the strippers later. We waited at the bar for everyone to show up. Nothing wrong with meeting new people while enjoying a few caparhinas with old friends who are all about to partake of the ancient rituals of carnal devouring with you. I gotta say, keep those caparhinas coming, Fogo makes a mean drink!

 

With a nice buzz kicking in we were seated at our table and were explained the rules of turning the card over from red (no meat at this particular moment in time) to green (get that sumptuous skewer of dead animal flesh over here!). We placed our drink orders, more caparhinas and some Argentinean Malbec, not typically my favorite style of vino, but, when in Fogo…stick with South America.

 

They immediately brought out a bunch of side dishes. Some of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever consumed, fried plantains and cheese bread. I had to make a stop at the salad bar before turning my card to green because I knew that once the meat started falling on my plate I wouldn’t get up any time soon. Best to have my vegetables sitting there ready and waiting to help my kitchen sink bits push all of the meat through safe and sound.

 

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What a salad bar! I think any vegetarian would be satisfied perusing this thing. There were all kinds of crudités, greens, salad condiments, sliced salamis (even vegetarians would have to admit that they looked damn tasty!), etc. Really, it was quite a spread. I chose to keep it simple with some greens and raw veggies for I knew what lay ahead.

 

Now comes the part I’ve been waiting for, my carnivorous dreams are about to become a reality. I just need to be careful of what I wish for. Ok, take a deep breath……GREEN!

 

Skewers seemingly start coming out of the woodwork. I haven’t seen this much meat since a Russ Myers film (thanks for the analogy Seinfeld). Animals from all walks of life grilled to perfect bliss. Lamb chops, pork ribs, beef ribs, chicken wrapped in bacon (I usually don’t order chicken, but hey, it was wrapped in bacon, I was clearly given an offer I can’t refuse), about 5 different cuts of beef…..it was truly heaven on a stick!

 

The star of the show was hands down the Picanha, a cut of sirloin with a layer of fat about a half inch thick along the meat. All it’s flavored with is salt and garlic, very simple. However, and I don’t quite know how they’re so successful at this, but that strip of fat absorbed every last molecule of flavor that garlic once possessed. Emeril would crap his pants instantly with that garlic flavor. I must have eaten three or four chunks of that stuff throughout my gorging. I used it much like pickled ginger at a sushi bar, to cleanse my palette between other flavors.

 

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I ate myself sick. There was clearly no way I would be able to stomach any dessert unless it came wrapped in garlic fat bacon on skewer. I morphed into my grandpa after a Passover Seder, my belt unfastened and the top button undone in a complete meat coma. Good thing my natural laxatives (fibrous veggies) were sitting in front of me or I’d have some serious problems lying ahead.

 

At $50 a pop (not including drinks) for that unbelievable parade of grilled flesh it’s definitely not the kind of place that I will frequent often. It is, however, a great spot for the rare occasion when all you want is to be naughty. Just be sure not to drag your anti-animal cruelty vegetarian who denies him/herself one of life’s most innate desires as it will surely end all relations. I, myself, am clearly not one of those veggies and will definitely be back at some point in my life.

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