Oasis (Medford) or Churrasco (Somerville)?
This talk about Green Field possibly closing--and the upcoming opening (very soon) of Rio in Arlington--has me thinking about Brazilian food today.
In addition to getting to Rio as soon as they open, I'm also thinking of checking out either Oasis in Medford or Churrasco in Somerville. Any thoughts on which one might be the better option? Do they both get crowded on weekend nights? What are the specialties at each?
The big difference between these two is that (at night) Oasis is largely a la carte and has a wine/beer/caipirinha license (I had thought Medford only allowed liquor for 50 seat restaurants, but their function room might count for this), while Churrasco is a buffet all the time and only soft drinks or bottled juices.
Churrasco has a rotating menu on the buffet, with both Brazilian dishes and Brazilianized dishes from elsewhere (eg Brazilian Stroganoff, Lasagna), plus the usual rice, salads, and beans. They also have charcoal-grilled churrasco which is sliced to order and I believe limited to picanha, sausage, chicken hearts, and sometimes pork loin. Eat in is always per-lb, although this summer they do have a fixed price take-out "Marmitex" lunchbox (most Brazilian buffets offer this and there are rules about how may meats you get, plus an employee fills it for you). The food is usually fresh as they make small portions and refresh the buffet as the day goes along. It gets a fair amount of traffic but I would think its busier weekend afternoons and weekday nights (no beer). To keep costs down some things (tutu mineiro, a bean and yucca flour dish) don't get much accompaniments and their feijao tropeiro doesn't have as much as Oasis. Inexpensive, pretty fresh, and consistent.
Oasis can be a bit inconsistent and do get particularly busy on Sundays. They have some interesting things on the appetizer menu -- carne de sol (sun-dried meat, fried) and torresmo (fried pork rinds) which come with fried yucca (sometimes this can be a bit dense compared to others, but much better than their fries). They have a combo plate that comes with chicken hearts (fried, not grilled, so can be a bit greasy), sausage, the carne de sol, and torresmos. Or if you are going to get the feijao tropeiro, you could just stick with the carne de sol since the feijao will come with sausage and some torresmos.
On the a la carte menu, I only order the Picanha from their churrasco since the other meats have come dry (particularly the mixed churrasco) and they call it Steak Oasis or something. It comes with farofa, rice, fries, and beans and probably their potato salad. There is vinagrette (brazilian salsa) on the tables to have with the rice and meat, or ask for some. Try to get them to sub the feijao tropeiro (beans with yucca flour, collards, sausage, etc) or considering ordering it as a side, as they put more things in it than other buffets (the torresmos). On Sundays they have salpicao, which when good is also better than others. A side order of their couve (collard greens) is worth considering. Their Moqueca (strictly capixaba) is usually quite good and served with a decent pirao. They have some daily plates, which are largely stuff from the normal menu priced as a plate of the day, except the feijoada (which I think they offer Friday _and_ Saturday) these and the various beef/pork/chicken/liver acebolada serve as the basis for a fixed-price delivery box they offer. They also have a lunch buffet, which sometimes has more interesting options than the a la carte (oxtails tuesday, vaca atolada maybe thursday), but generally no nightly specials. They tried music on the weekends for a while, but don't think its anymore. I like the "pave de sonho de valsa" (a custard with a brazilian chocolate cookie, dreams of a waltz), but their dessert offerings are otherwise about the same as Churrasco.
So neither is a rodezio style restaurant, Oasis is a bit more sit down, and Churrasco probably a bit more consistent. I wish Oasis offered one home cooked dish each evening (vaca atolada, frango c/quiabo, dobradinho) to widen the selection and go along with the few regional offerings on the appetizer list -- in that sense cafe brazil is more interesting (but has really lousy appetizers except frango a passarinho and lousy churrasco) for an a la carte restaurant.