Bolero, Calgary - any reviews?
I noticed that there's a new restaurant above Smuggler's on Macleod Trail S. It's called Bolero and says it's a Brazilian rodizio, with chefs walking around serving various cuts of meat. Anybody try it yet? Know how much it is? There was a Gilchrist article about it in the Herald on May 6th, but I would love to read an actual review.
We went tonight for the 5 pm opening and had another good experience. Had some salad bar items, but we knew what we wanted and avoided the things that we didn't enjoy.
Seriously we had the bacon wrapped fillet come around about 5 times. We used all our 2 hours. The lamb was incredible tonight, and pichana was great. My daughter just had the salad bar items and ate so many collard greens I thought they were going to say something! But they were fantastic. It was busy but we had the gauchos bring everything around many times. The only thing that didn't come around too many times was the veggies.
I've recently been to both for two separate occasions in the past month.
Gaucho's has moved to their new location, which is way more spacious than their old location. The good news is that the food is still good - way more seasoned than Bolero's, and cooked perfectly. The down side is that it is way more busy now, with a lot of parties being booked. Having said that, they still served us in a timely manner. And shouldn't have a problem with kids either (the roasted pineapple with coconut ice cream dessert is great - but you pay separately for it).
Bolero's is a bit more intimate. Kids would still be OK there, but I simply found the food just not as good - or cooked. I got a raw piece of bacon-wrapped chicken...not the best of moments. And I found that the meat choices weren't quite as fast or good, although they do have rack of lamb - you just have to tell them to make it. And they do have roasted pineapple as one of their dishes.
So, I prefer Gaucho's still.
Yes, it's where Ciao Baby's used to be. It's much bigger than the old space but it looks a lot smaller than I recall of CB, although it was a few years since I'd been. Same entrance.
They have a salad bar now, it had a really good black bean and bacon dish that I could have happily had instead of all that meat, but no "just salad bar" option. The meat was quite salty (I was drinking water all night, seemed saltier than the times I was at the old place), but very tasty and a large selection. Constant supply and very friendly, good service. I can't handle so much meat very often, but for the times I feel like it Gaucho is great. Still haven't made it to Bolero, they're always booked whenever I try to get in.
Gaucho's is having a lunch special on until the end of this week. $14/person! Make sure you book as they are packed for lunch. I have heard though others that know Brazilians who say that Gaucho's is much more authentic than Bolero's.
I'm glad the high quality preparation of the meat is still the same at the new place, just miss the glass window to watch the rotating meat. ...drools...
I haven't been to Bolero, but have gone to Guacho which our Brazilian friends recommended. They said it came very close to authentic. My husband and I quite enjoyed it (if eating half a cow, pig and a couple of chickens is your thing!). It is a very small place and seating is tight. The salad bar was good - but we only went up once mainly because we filled up on protein, but also because it would be tough to navigate yourself back there with all of the skewers flying around. All in all we really enjoyed it and would go back. Definitely great value for Calgary - which is a shocker.
Having been to both places, I have to say I was more impressed with Guacho's than Bolero's. Bolero's salad bar is much larger with more variety but the main reason for going to these places is the meat which Guacho's does much better. The meat at Bolero's was a little too salted and drier (but we did go after 8pm so that might have been the reason). Guacho's meat skewers were more juicy and tasty with more unique items like chicken hearts and foot long beef ribs, aka Flintstone style (which I'm still dreaming of). Guacho's meat stew was better than Bolero's too in the flavour depth.
Only issue with Guacho's is that is it small and non-air conditioned so don't go there on a +30C day unless you like sweaty meat orgies, but there is a small patio outside which is in the shade during the afternoons.
If ever there was a restaurant guilty of FALSE ADVERTISING this is it. When you sit down, the server comes around with a long list of different meats to be served. We were there more than 2 HOURS and saw only a SMALL FRACTION of this supposed menu. It eventually became apparent that we were NOT going to see most of it. What we did get was over-done and/or burned. The margaritas tasted like they were made with sea-water and were send back immediately. This place is a NO GO. If you want steak, go to one of the downtown steak houses. If you want lamb, go to one of the many good Greek places. If yo want chichen, go to the Safeway.
My experience at Bolero was that it was a pretty nice salad bar. It feels a bit weird to say that though as salad bars seem so dated in restaurants. Whole food salad bars are amazing though and something like that is needed in Calgary (The Co-Op on 11th ave doesn't cut it!). I digress- the salad bar was good for what its worth. The meat was pretty good, some cuts certainly better than others, many of them were dried out or masked by lots of cheese or garlic. The service is random and that is kind of frustrating- you have be pretty laid back about it to enjoy this. Not a bad price in Calgary if you are someone who would normally order an appetizer and a main. All that stood out for me was the Pichana, so $35 for a salad bar and some Pichana means I won't go back unless for the schtick of it.
I have been to Bolero 7 times since its opening in May of last year. Yes, I like my protein.
I feel bad for everyone who has had a negative experience, the closest I have come to a bad night at Bolero was some overdone food. We politely requested some rare and 10 minutes later, there it was, a wonderfully rare filet mignon.
This being the first of its kind in Alberta, I think they are doing a great job of serving a market that was not previously met. And they definitely have a learning curve considering they have to catch up to places like Samba and Fogo de Chao. The nice thing is that the experience from years of cooking Alberta beef that Smuggler's Inn has shows through and this restaurant is definitely using high quality food.
My favorite part is the caramelized pineapple because it accompanies the meats so well. The bacon wrapped filet and chicken are usually quite tender, and the garlic parmesan porkloin, dont pass it up! The filet and ribeye are the best beef cuts.
Also, if you are an avid wine drinker like myself, check out the reserve list. Some nice options.
Overall I can see how quality control is tough when using a serving method like this, but the staff were accomodating and did their best to get us the doneness that we liked. My only suggestion is not going too late because on busy nights they can run out of some Rodizio items.
HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE- DO NOT RECOMMEND
I went to Bolero with my husband for a much deserved anniversary supper away from our 4 children. We managed to get childcare arrangements and were quite excited to try a meal there, as most of these responses were quite impressive.
We made reservations pretty far and advance and were told we were going to have a lovely table. Well, our table was by a fireplace but we were the FORGOTTEN TABLE. Our server tried very hard to get the different types of meat to come to our table....but it didn't really happen. 2 hours seems like a lot of time to eat...if you are actually being served food.
The servers kept serving the same 3 or 4 large tables and by the time it would even get close to us the food was gone. This is not the place to go as a couple....YOU ARE IGNORED.
When we did get food it was mostly the ends of the meat, tough and dry.
I was very disappointed that they seemed to have a back log in the kitchen. By now, you would expect a reputable restaurant to know how much food to prepare.
We only saw about 1/2 of the meat they advertise on the menu and ate only about 1/4 of it......we saw more than we got to try.
The Filet Minon was gross. I couldn't even eat it. It tasted and was as tough as a flank steak.
Did I mention that our portions of meat, when we actually got some were roughly about 10 grams each....a sliver taken off the sword.
They kept trying to fill us up with this cheap sausage and pineapple. If you don't like pineapple like my husband....you would get quite irriated with this.
This was definitely not the enjoyable, quite and relaxing meal we were hoping for. We get out twice a year by ourselves and this was such a waste of one of those nights.
The waitress apologized profusely and asked us to please give them another chance.
(no we did not receive a reduction on our bill).
As far as I am concerned their menu is false advertising.
The only thing they have going for this restaurant is the somewhat ok decor and the price of booze was pretty reasonable.
My husband likened our experience to us being dogs waiting for the food to drop on the floor, we could see the food and smell the food....and if we were a lucky a small morsel would come our way..
Took 5 guests there Sunday night. VERY excited about eating there after hearing all the hoopla about it. The waitress was exceptionally kind. Here is my beef (no pun intended), We sat at a large table at the opposite side of the restaurant from the kitchen. So, By the time the guys came by with the meat on the skewers, we had already finished our salads, which if fine. HOWEVER, they only came by around once every 15 minutes ( and gave us 'tastes' of what they were presenting.....a two bit tidbit), or passed us by totally, or emptied their skewers before they got to us. We eventually had to literally haul someone to our table to serve us as they were once again about to bypass our table. It took us 2 hours to eat, and most of that was 3 trips to the salad bar to get 'something' to eat. We never saw half of the meats advertised on the menu. It took us 2 hours to even get a taste of the pork. . NOT a good experience at all, will think very hard about going back again.
I went this evening and my only complaint was that I had made reservations for 8:30 pm and nobody mentioned that they close up their grill at 9pm. If I had known that I would not have gone at that time That gives us 30 minutes to have a cocktail, salad and the hot sides with the meat. I am used to having a meal that lasts several hours not 30 minutes. I will go back again but a whole lot earlier.
My boyfriend and I went there last night, and I would DEFINITELY recommend any meat lovers to go! Everything was absolutely delicious, the atmosphere was fun and the service was great! We stayed there for a little over two hours, had the full deal for $35 each, and had a phenomenal dessert. I recommend the sponge cake it is to die for! =)
Are you talking about the cake soaked in cream, milk and evaporated milk? I love it, I also love their creme brulee, it comes with 3 flavours.
When BT did their buffet tour I was suppose to go for nominating Bolero, and we couldn't go. I was so disappointed. But I don't know how much damage I could have done at 6 am in the meat dept.
we went for our Anniversary dinner with the 2 kids....we had a lot of fun. I passed on stuff like chicken legs and dry ribs..and the sausage. I strictly went for the finer cuts of meat which were very nice the night we went. We got there for our reservation right at 5 and the meat came fast and furious. As far as the cold stuff and buffet trays, I avoided too much of that.
I also made sure to take 2 plates so when the pineapple came around it was rolling around in garlic and sauce, because I knew that I would love the pineapple. My kids had a great time. I did order a glass of wine as my husband was designated driver.
My only beef..hah! was the table we were at, it was the the furthest table in the corner, one of those u -shaped booths which I absolutely hate.
As for salt...I always..always ...always take my own Fleur de sel with me. Silly yes...but then I can have my food the way I like it without complaining.
I went there last night.
The cold bar was fresh and the vegetables/ salad was good, however, I found the meat to be very dry or chewy.
Also, if you plan to take out an Elderly person, don't take them to Bolero because there are far too many steps for a senior to handle unattended. There are ramps, but the place is so dark that if you have poor eye sight (as most seniors do), it's very hard to see. Why are there no windows in this place?
Anyway, if I do go back, it probably won't be for a while.
SUMMARY - NOT WORTH IT UNLESS SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING AND YOU HAVE TIME TO WASTE:
This restaurant doesn't even come close to comparing to Fogo de Chao.
The meat selection was very poor, definitely not fresh and was dry and stringy as if days old.
The service was scanty and the servers not interested in customer satisfaction.
The cold and hot bars were also disappointing, most dishes were very bland and the selection was very restricted compared to Fogo de Chao.
The staff are not trained adequately in how to cut meat - early on one server nearly taking my arm off. and overall the staff knew next to nothing about the meat other than the name.
We took some business associates to eat at Bolero shortly after it opened and coincidentally at the same time that Calgary experienced that enormous rain storm that closed down every interchange on the Deerfoot and flooded most areas of the city. In the first 45 minutes we received three meat samples. By this time we were quite starving - for both and service - and one of our guests took one of the servers aside and told her about the invisible wall that apparently existed just before our table, evidenced by how all the servers turned around when they ran into it. He's a smooth salesman and negotiator because in the next 15 minutes we received 10 meat samples and finally had to turn our red light indicator on.
We were disappointed in the meat, which appeared to be days old, and was dry and stringy and often difficult to chew and swallow. Certainly not the tender, divine cuts offered in Fogo de Chao. Also, one server nearly took my arm off with the knife - they are not very well trainined and don't know how to cut meat. They definitely need significant training on how meat is structured, how to cut it etc as they appeared to have very little of knowledge beyond the name of what they were serving.
Meanwhile the roof started leaking crazy amounts of water. The staff made no effort at all to try to contain the water, to mark the areas of floor that were wet. I almost fell a number of times even though I knew the floor was wet and was being careful. They are very lucky no one had a serious fall.
I will never visit this restaurant again and I tell everyone I know about it - most of us have eaten at Fogo de Chao and I let them know not to waste their time as it doesn't come even close to comparing. It's a real shame - I hope they pick up their act in the next year or so, change their menu, train their staff. It would be great to have a good Brazilian BBQ in Calgary - but Bolero definitely isn't it.
I went to Bolero recently and I must say that I was quite disappointed. Our server seemed like he couldn't be bothered to do anything. He brought us a pre-opened bottle of wine that we saw him wander the entire restaurant with prior to dropping it off at the table. The greek salad, italian-marinated artichoke hearts, all-American potatoe salad and pasta salad took away from the entire experience. The gauchos were okay but they brought around the same three or four types of meats. Had I known this would be the case I would have ordered the teazer plate instead of the full deal. There was more fat than meat for the most part! I was looking for a much more enjoyable, authentic, and tasteful evening. I will not go back to Bolero.
OK, I went back last night and felt it was a vast improvement from my first visit. The gauchos were attentive and pleasant, and there was no stopping them from coming around. The meat was much better prepared - not dried out and overcooked like the last time. I would still like to see some of the cuts brought out closer to medium-rare, especially the rib-eye and filet mignon. The chicken thighs and the ribs were both still overdone, but tasty. And it looks like the chef found the seasonings, because everything was well-seasoned - not too much, not too little.
I still think the taste and quality of some the items on the hot and cold food bars could be vastly improved. My favourite items were the mashed potatoes, which I thought were very tasty, and the cold meats and cheeses. The salads were blah, and the Greek salad looked particularly bad, with taste to match.
Towards the end of the meal, we got rained on, as they were having some problems with their roof! Just a sprinkling, but I was disappointed that they did not offer to get our drinks or give a discount. We didn't ask, mind you. But say what you will about Earl's or Joey's; every time I've been there and had something go just slightly wrong, they take care of it in some way. The waitress and the manager were on-the-ball half as much as the gauchos, and the gauchos were probably 10-15 years younger! I wish I could tip them directly.
Overall it was a good experience. I will go back.
Went last Tuesday, July 10th. Thought the meat was coming around slowly at first, but your stomach catches up fast. Earlier posters are right, I'm someone who generally eats a lot of meat, but that was by far more than I eat in a week (was it smart to try this in the middle of Stampede??!?). When all was said and done I had to wave the white flag (err...flip the little wooden doohickey from green to red) with a few pieces still left on my plat.
The picanha was great (in both the regular and parmesan versions), the chicken tasty, the filet tender and the rack of lamb was quite sublime. But the Alcatra - wow. Amazing what just a little bit of sea salt can do. I would have been quite happy if one of the gauchos would have just left me a skewer of that. The pineapple is also an interesting surprise, wasn't expecting much when I read it on the menu, but it was quite tasty with a hint of honey or caramel in it and really balanced well with meat.
The hot & cold bars were fine, I enjoyed the coconut rice (although I'm not sure if on a review of a place like this one needs to mention the rice) and they had a very nice proscuitto as well. I meant to inquire about it but I must have forgot sometime during the meat sweats.
Had a nice Argentinian Malbec that didn't break the bank yet complemented all that protein quite nicely.
Our server was earnest and enthusiastic and the gauchos very very generous.
I will definitely be revisiting next time I'm ready to get my meat on.
We went to Bolero a couple weeks ago & had a wonderful time. It's a groovy atmosphere with huge firpelaces & soft lighting. I ate more meat than I would eat in an entire week, so leave your veggie friends at home. It was very reasonable at $35 per person that included the hot & cold buffet. The hot buffet had yummy cocnut rice & a very tasty beef stroganoff. The staff are great and very attentive as well. My favorite meat skewer was the filet mignon, so tender and delicious.
My husband & I are heading back tonight with my folks for a late Father's Day dinner. I can't wait!!
Try it soon!!
I went to Bolero last week on a Tuesday and had a very good experience. I've actually spent some time in Brazil (Campinas) prior for work so have had firsthand experience with Brazilian churrascarias. Bolero, while not offering the breadth for either the salad station or the meat selections, compared well for what they did have.
On the evening I was there, other then one skewer of pork loin, the meat was all cooked medium rare to rare and was quite tender. I would agree that they could use more salt but that said, the meat was flavorful.
The restaurant was full which was both good and bad: good as there was a constant supply of meat (no skewers sitting and getting overdone) but bad as there were only 2 servers for most of the evening (a third was added when we were almost done).
The salad bar could use more items, especially for the hot food as there really is only the feijoada (black bean stew) that could be called Brazilian and even that wasn't really authentic - still just nitpicking here.
I would definitely recommend Bolero - hopefully they remain busy so the cooking doesn't suffer.
I've been to a couple of these places before, one in Salt Lake City called Rodizio, and one in Vegas in the shops at the Aladdin hotel, which I can't remember the name of at this point. Both of these restaurants are excellent, and superior to Bolero.
All share the same concept of the hot and cold food bars, combined with the tableside service of various meats by gauchos. For me, the real attraction at these places is the meat, which is usually cooked very simply and very well, over charcoal.
The main problem I had with Bolero was that most of the meat was under seasoned and overcooked, resulting in meat that was far too dry. The exceptions were the bacon-wrapped filet mignon, the bacon-wraped chicken, and the pork sausage.
Maybe the place needs to be busier so that meat comes out of the kitchen more frequently. One of the gauchos who served us was very attentive, and even brought out meats on request. But 2 of the other gauchos completely ignored our section. These could be problems that will be ironed out once the restaurant has been open longer. We'll try it again in a month or so to see if it has improved.
I have been spoiled for this type of cuisine by Rodizio in Salt Lake, which I think is absolutely excellent, so my standards are high. Maybe the other one on Fairmount Drive will be better.
re: John Manzo
I know what you're saying. I definitely plan to go back after they've been open for awhile - give them some time to hit their stride. Not trying to be mean, just honest. We do other things as good as, or better than, the Americans (except southern BBQ and Mexican) so I hope this will become the case with Bolero.
On another note: who designed the pass-through from kitchen to gaucho? The counter is so high that I felt bad for the shorter gauchos who had to reach up for the skewer! Lower that bad boy!
Lol - i thought the exact same thing when i was there :)
Just to add my thoughts to what Feuerzeug says above, it definitely isnt up to the standard i've had in the States. The hot and cold bars were no where up to the standard i've had in the past as well. I wouldnt touch any of the hot food again - it looked like the repository for all the leftover meat from the night before. The salad bar was decent, but with a weak selection. The quality of the salad bar was also a definite notch below other establishments i've been to.
But we all go for the meat. I found most of the meat to be under-seasoned as well...just some salt would go a long way. The initial cuts of meat were overcooked (all medium well- welldone), which pleased one of our dining companions. We asked for rarer cuts, and she started bringing out items that were medium-rare to medium. What i noticed was they hadnt mastered the art of cooking both on the same skewer yet. In many Rodizio style places where they;ve imported Brazillian labour, they have the ability to get a wide range of doneness on a "sword" (there must be a better name for these). The service was excellent, but we were one of three tables. She brought out any of the meats we wanted cooked close to the way we asked. It was 9 oclock on a weekday though, so im not surprised that the busier they get, the less they will be willing to do that.
My favorite meats were the Filet (not bacon wrapped), the Leg of Young Lamb and Rack of Lamb were both awesome medium-rare, the Alcatra, and the garlic-parmesan Pichana. The linguica was really really good as well, but i have issues paying $35 for sausage :) I was most disappointed with the rib-eye, the Pichana, and the pork tenderloin, which was far from tender.
Oh, the BBQ/grilled pineapple was awesome. Had 3 or 4 servings. It ended up being my favorite dish. Definitely recommend that!
Im hoping to try the one on Fairmount in the next couple weeks - i'll report on it then.
I went this evening,
I was very impressed I've been to 2 other Brazilian style BBQ places. Fogo De Chao in Houston TX and one I don't remember the name of in Milan, IT. Bolero was better (and cheaper) then Fogo, but not quite as nice as the one in Milan.
The meat of course is incredibly good, all the beef choices were perfectly cooked, and amazingly spiced. The Chicken was also good, the pork loin was a little dry, but the ribs were great.
The choice of items in the cold and hot salad bars were quite tasty and well stoked, being replaced when they got close to 1/3 empty so there was never a time that you went to the salad bar and couldn't have what you were looking for.
At times there was a fairly long wait between when piece of meat came around but this is actually a good thing giving time for you stomach to digest some of the huge protein intake. For any carnivores I would highly recommend going by. A reservation would probably be a good idea as even on a Sunday night there weren't many open tables.
Full Adult All you can eat: $35
Sample Platter plus salad bar: $27.50
Salad Bar's only: $20
Hi! Thanks for posting a review - i was wondering if you had any additional details like:
How many meat choices were there? What were your favorite items in the salad bar? Did you get any complimentary sides like Pao de Queijo? Drink costs? How many total tables?
Any additional details you could provide would be appreciated! Thanks.
I went there the on the Saturday after they opened. I'm going back again tonight, and I've got reservations made for my birthday in September. Their menu is:
Pichana - "This rump cut is the classic churrascaria offering. Subtly falvored and incredibly tender"
Garlic Parmesan Striploin - "We pay homage to this all American cut seasoned with fresh garlic and shredded parmesan"
Filet Mignon - "The noblest meat cut roasted to rreveal it's great taste"
Ribeye Steak - "The prime part of the ribeye a truly elite steak"
Rack of Lamb - "Cut into tasty chops and roasted to tender perfection"
Garlic Parmesan Porkloin - "Tender strips of Succulent pork with a great flavour combination"
Pork Tenderloin - "Roasted whole to be crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside"
Alcatra - "Cut from the top Sirloin seasoned only with sea salt to reveal it's natural flavour"
Pork Ribs - "Baby back ribs like you've never had them before. Slow roasted for aximum flavour"
Garlic Parmesan Pichana - "We roast smaller portionsof our classic cut with garlic, parmesan lovres in mind"
Pineapple - "Whole roasted with a delicious hint of smoke and caramel"
Linguica - "Robust pork sausages, slow roasted to mouth-watering perfection."
Bacon Filet Mignon - "Tenderloin medallions wrapped in applewood crisp bacon"
Bacon wrapped Chicken - "Tender chicken thighs wrapped in applewood crisp bacon"
Chicken legs - "Lightly seasoned crisp chicken"
Vegetable Skewer "Fresh cut vegetables doused in grated parmesan and slow roasted"
Leg of Lamb - "Fresh cut leg of lamb carved off the bone"
and that's taken directly from the menu I took home with me following my visit to Bolero. They've also got a wonderful Fresco bar / hot bar, although I did neglect it in flavour of the all you can eat meat on a sword. From what I did try, the mushrooms and potatoes were excellent. The asparagus was good, but not particularly excellent; Although that is probably because everything else was so completely amazing.