The Beverly Grillbillies!
When you’re from “The 909″, it’s quite the undertaking to make a trek into the big city. Making sure one’s wife-beater-tank-top is freshly pressed is just the tip of the iceberg. The cow must be milked, the meth lab shut down, and the pick up truck taken off the cinder blocks. So when The Fun Couple finally made it to Fogo de Chao in Beverly Hills, it’s understandable that we turned a few heads. I’m sure all those West L.A. socialites were just jealous of my sweet mullet.
Okay, despite the bad rap my area code gets (the snooty folks in Orange County call the region “the valley of the dirt people”), I’ve never personally been featured on COPS, nor do I live on a farm (and I don’t have a mullet). And even though The 909 (a.ka. The Inland Empire) is a bit of a culinary wasteland, we can definitely appreciate fine dining. My dream restaurant has been Fogo de Chao, the upscale Brazilian BBQ chain that actually finds its roots in Brazil! At over $60 per person, I assumed that it would be an elusive fantasy just beyond reach. But thanks to Dine L.A.’s “Restaurant Week“, Fogo de Chao became a reality!
A quick tip for my fellow 909-ers who dare venture into such uppity places: THERE’S NO NEED TO GET INTO YOUR FORMAL WEAR! You won’t fool anyone into thinking that you’re a “local” (the flannel shirt under your corduroy suitcoat will be a dead giveaway). You’ll feel more than comfortable in respectable casual wear (meaning jeans and a nice shirt not shorts and a WWF tank top).
Fogo de Chao is a buffet fit for royalty. You are encouraged to start with their salad bar, which is so much more than a salad bar. Get Sizzler or Hometown out of your head! It features all manner of fresh veggies, expertly prepared salads, fine deli meats (including prosciutto and smoked salmon), imported cheeses, and high-end oils and vinegars. The highlight for the two of us was the Balsamic vinegar. It was amazingly rich, sweet and complex. We put it on everything!
You are given a coaster which gives the servers (gauchos) in their M.C. Hammer pants the cue to get the meat party started. The red side means, “We need a break!”, the green side means, “It’s on like King Kong!” When we decided to “go green”, the most beautiful parade I had ever seen got going. Bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Bacon-wrapped chicken. Ribeye. Sausage. Garlic beef. Lamb chops. Parmesan encrusted pork tenderloin. I tried everything that came my way, at least ten different meats. I got seconds (maybe even thirds, it’s really none of your business, though) of the garlic beef, ribeye, and — surprisingly — the bottom sirloin. Bottom sirloin can be chewy and livery, but it was tender, juicy and unbelievably tasty! Simply seasoned and cooked to perfection using real wood, the premium quality of their meats really shine. Wowzers, if only human evolution had taken the route of cattle … a couple extra stomachs would’ve been nice!
As if the salad bar and meat parade aren’t enough to make one spontaneously combust from “happy, happy, joy, joy” overload, you’re brought a trio of scrumptious side dishes: mashed potatoes, fried polenta, and fried banana. They’re all very good, though I would prefer to have my fried banana topped with vanilla ice cream. As soon as a dish is empty, they’ll bring you more. The servers are very attentive without being annoying. Service all around was excellent!
Commoners, peasants, and lowly 909′ers … Dine L.A. is your chance to experience the royal treatment!
I took a bunch of pictures, but they’re really lame. Maybe I was trembling with excitement. But here’s a taste of Fogo de Chao: