Fogo de Chao
I almost titled this post "Fogo de Chit", because our dinner Friday night was that underwhelming.
In short, for $45 a person, I expect certain things: like a coat check on a night when temperatures are approaching the single digits. The ambience of the room was all wrong -- tables packed together with heavy winter coats on the backs of everyone's chairs, noisy and tacky. They took what could have been a grand space -- a former jewelry showcase -- and turned it into Uncle Ted's Montana Grill, part two.
The food? Well, if you want bulk, you get bulk, but if you want things like "quality", it's the wrong place. I found that the cuts of meat that weren't seasoned (like the garlic filet mignon) all started to run together on my palate in an unspectacular way, though the lamb chops were pretty nice. Some cuts of meat came by the table frequently, while others (the ribs) did not arrive until we were about full from everything.
Complimentary side dishes (mashed potatoes, fried polenta, etc) were just plain bad. Watery mashed potatoes = no good. And we didn't even know that there were (overpriced) pitchers of Sangria available until we saw another group nearby with one, and it still took forever for it to arrive.
Seriously: if you want food like this, get to Picanha in the Northeast, which makes no attempt at ambience, but the food is better. And cheaper.
I have not been to this one yet, but have been to other locations (Atlanta, DC) with pleasant experiences (and I'm not a fan of the chain thing). In terms of meat coming around- you cannot just wait for it to come around- if you request a specific kind they will bring it to you- that's why there are "menus" I have always had great service doing that. However, it is also the experience to go there, as meat cuts are better at steakhouses IMO.
I have to disagree. My wife and I went yesterday with a guest from NYC and the food was spectacular. It was far superior to Picanha, and mind you, I love Picanha. It was more expensive, $57/person with one dessert and no drinks. The buffet table, which is a central feature of Brazilian barbeque, was spectacular, the finest I have ever seen, superior to what I remember of the famous Brazilian NYC Plataforma. The meats, of which I think they claimed 15 (but there seemed fewer), were superb, better than Picanha and again, I think Picanha is excellent. And I felt the dining room was very elegant and well done, so I do not know what that was about. Obviously, one cannot eat at a place like Fogo de Chao regularly. But though I am hostile to chains in general, I think Fogo de Chao is a welcome addition to the Philadelphia scene that I will return to.
My husband was reading these posts over my shoulder, and strongly disagreed with the first poster. He was there with a group of men (one of whom is a retired food critic), and they all loved it. They are all "eaters,", my husband is a great cook, and he also said they all checked their coats.
They all thought the meats were all excellent and they had a great experience there. I guess the only thing I can do is to go and see for myself. It sounds like the unusual salad bar would be my best option; I don't think I can eat that much meat.