Brazilian salad bar/grill buffet?
I just went to one in Framingham (Casa Brazil) on Rt. 9 and loved the concept (salad bar and grilled meats, quick cheap relatively healthy). I wasn't crazy about their food quality though. There must be other ones out there but where?
Its called Terra Brasilis and its a good starting point -- I went when they first took over the Union Ave location and have been to others. Its decent, but don't expect the most exciting food. One thing you should know is that the buffet will change every day, whereas the selection of meats will basically be the same. And there are some things that may make sense to Brazilians, but not you. I think the most interesting selections on their buffet are likely to be Sunday -- when they have tutu de feijao, brazilian lasagna, and roast pork... or Friday where they have Moqueca de peixe (a fish stew). Saturday is when they offer a feijoada. They tend to be a bit heavy on the pastas on the buffet. They used to have music weekend nights, but dunno if that is still the case. Barriga Cheia on Hollis I recall as being pretty decent (possibly more interesting than Terras).
I think Casa Brazil is what used to be Beef Grill and before that Banana Grill. It was always a bit odd -- they had this electric broiler for doing the meat, instead of charcoal like the better places and gas like others. As Banana they did have some interesting dishes like a stuffed chayote (chuchu), but w/o hurrying you they seemed to really want to turn the tables over.
If you want a more sit-down dinner, there is always Ipanema Grill which offers a full rodezio. I have mostly been there as a night club and it went downhill for a while, but its supposed to be improving. Also in Framingham is Copacabana Grill on Irving which I have heard about but never been. In most of these you will probably have the best experience when its relatively busy -- earlier on Sunday afternoons are good (later it gets really busy). There are also several Brazilian restaurants and bakeries in Marlborough, a few in Worcester, couple in Leominster, and I think one now in Shrewsbury.
I haven't spent much time in Metrowest in the last couple of years and when I do go my Brazilian friends are hooked on Hudson Super Buffet, so its hard to do much hounding and things change so fast. To do some real hounding I would suggest visiting a Brazilian Church and asking around, you might even get invited to at at someone's house which will be the best food.
I have opinions about both of the places you mention, but I think the original poster was looking for more of the pay-by-the-pound type places. A search for "Churrascaria," or "rodizio" should turn up several threads. Look particulary for Itaunus's reccomendations, as that poster's knowledge is encyclopedic and thoughtful within this cuisine:)
I've only been to two Churrascarias in the Boston area.
The one you mentioned is at 1124 Cambridge St. in Cambridge. It's called the Midwest Grill.
We went there for a friend's farewell lunch. Food quality and variety was decent, although I found the meats somewhat overseasoned with salt.
The other one is Green Field Churrascaria on Brighton Ave in Allston/Brighton (near Super 88).
It's a huge place with pretty good service. Lots of food (even sushi!). However, the place is so empty that it creeps me out.
Both places have so-so meats, except for the top sirloin which was VERY good. The chicken is usually too dry for my liking, except if it's the thigh or wing portion. I don't think either place is really that excellent, but it's definitely interesting enough to check out. (Especially if you're craving grilled meats..Mmm)
I would also love to find a good Churascaria in the area that measures up to Fogo de Chao! I've been to the Chicago one several times. If you're traveling, look at their website and try one. http://www.fogodechao.com/index.htm
I have heard about one "Brazilian Barbecue" in Somerville and have not tried it yet because I was not sure of the name or location.
I have Brazilian friends who say that the Brazilian restaurants in MetroWest are rubbish, even with the area's HUGE Brazilian population. Sadly, I think the immigrant community could be priced out of a really good one.
re: Haute Stuff
They probably were talking about the Midwest Grille in Inman. I think there is also one that is in the back of a Brazilian market in Union Square, but I haven't looked. There is also a Cafe Belo in Somerville on Washington St. across Rt 28 from Union Square a few blocks. It's really cheap for okay food, but certainly not high quality food, and definitely not for anyone on a low sodium diet. It's kind of comforting though. There must be one in Magoun Square too?
re: Haute Stuff
Fogo de Chao, Texas de Brazil, Porcao, and Plataforma (NYC) tend to be aimed at a steakhouse audience with respective prices (rodezios for $50/pp) and have flurished in cities where high-end steakhouses do well (as you can see in Boston, high-end steakhouses are a subject of constant debate over whether any are worth it... we certainly are not Chicago, Ft Worth, etc). Green Field tried to give it a go, although at a lower price point, and was pretty reasonable for a while, but did not attract a large clientele and the quality plumetted. And some of these chains vary (fogo de chao uses gas instead of charcoal in many places, beef ribs are often baked instead of slowly grilled on a low fire), plus argentine aged picanha is not available here as it is in Brazil. We might eventually get something that serves this niche and takes off, but in the meantime make the most of what we have.
I happened to notice in a recent Globe of all places that there is a slightly more upscale restaurant coming to Framingham:
"Brazzille, a sleek, designer-styled restaurant in downtown Framingham that they hope to open within two weeks. (...) Once Brazzille is finished, there will be 142 seats, acoustic music several nights a week, and a place where everyone, both Brazilian and not, can gather (...) The partners are already booking parties in the several private dining rooms that will be part of the finished project." (It sounded like it might be per-lb and a la carte to start off, but with a rodezio later on)
In Somerville I tend to prefer Churrasco Grill on Medford St which is pretty consistent and Gauchao on lower Broadway is pretty good too. Both are per-lb and Gauchao is good for fixed-price lunch boxes. Both use charcoal (as does Cafe Belo), but will have a smaller range of meats than a higher-end rodezio. Their buffets follow a set pattern of dishes, which vary each day.