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After 2 years, finally convinced DH to go to a Churrascaria

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So my husband, an omnivore who leans to the carnivore side, heard about these all you can eat Brazilian Steakhouses a couple of years ago and I said "we should go". But we live an hour and half north of the city and we have two young kids. Plus he's an excellent cook so he just makes it himself.

So I gave him a coupon for his birthday for a weekend away just the two of us and including dinner at a Churrascaria. That was over a year ago. So I did it again for Christmas. Now here we are in April and he's finally considering going the end of May.

I had done a ton of research, especially here on Chowhound, into which Churrascaria would be the best and now I'm doubting myself. If I ever want to be able to do this again, it has got to be good! :-)

So what do you think, is Churrascaria Platforma the best choice?

And is there anything else that you think a foodie should do while in the city on a Sunday morning?

Thanks!!
Misty

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Churrascaria Plataforma
316 West 49th Street, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Plataforma is my favorite in the city. There is one in Corona, Queens, called Green Field, that is half the price and more or less just as good (I actually like the salad bar/buffet section at Green Field better), but if you want to go to one in Manhattan I would go to Plataforma.

    1. Riodizio TriBeCa is another one by the same owners of Plataforma. It's prettier & we think better--my husband & his family are from Rio and they all prefer it too. My MIL is a vegetarian and even she loves it for the incredible salad bar & fish! Enjoy!

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      Churrascaria Tribeca
      221 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

      1. Plataforma is your best option. The food is fine – not stellar, not full fledged steakhouse quality, but it’s fine. Prices have gone up since I first visited it 12 years ago. In terms of pure food value it’s not truly worth it but it’s a fun experience. Fine for a birthday.

        I’ve been to both the midtown and Tribeca locations. Tribeca is smaller and quieter. The midtown venue is a good deal larger and noisier. Your call as to which is more appealing – some people like a bit more noise, it seems more festive to them. Unlike some NY restaurants the midtown Plataforma branch isn’t deafening so you may want to choose based on which location is more convenient. I’ve found the food to be identical.

        There’s a strategy you need to follow with Plataforma. It’s not tricky but you need to keep it in mind. They’ve got a big salad bar with lots of choices. That’s all swell but remember – you didn’t pay $60 per person to eat salad. Don’t fill up on decoy food.

        The 2nd thing to remember is that they will bring out the cheaper cuts of meats first. Skip them and hold out for the good stuff. (If you’ve got to have something, try a sausage. They’re pretty good.)

        Third thing. The “all you can eat” deal does NOT cover drinks. I can’t emphasize this more strongly. Your check can balloon if you order those fancy Brazilian drinks they’ll try to push on you. Stick to beer or wines by the glass and try to be moderate.

        Finally, desserts and coffee aren’t covered by the $60 prix fixe either. They can easily add on $30 - $35 per couple to the dinner cost.

        There’s an article from the NY Daily News that covers all of this. It’s 12 years old and the prices they quote are far cheaper than what Plataforma is charging now. But the strategy it describes still holds up.

        http://articles.nydailynews.com/2000-...

        8 Replies
        1. re: Bob Martinez

          Bob-

          I have heard many people claim they bring out the cheaper cuts of meats first but how is this possible. There are not specific seatings so I may be ending a meal and you may be starting. They bring out meat for the entire floor at once. When the skirt steak comes out you may be starting and I may be ending. Please explain how it is possible for them to hold more expensive cuts to the end. Unless you are implying they dont bring out the filet until midnight.

          1. re: princeofpork

            When the waiters come out of the kitchen carrying the cheaper cuts they target the new tables first. Chicken galore followed by sausages. They work their way up the meat food chain, topping out with the more expensive cuts. My guess is that the waiters carrying things like sirloin are told to wait until a table has been served a few rounds of the cheaper stuff before they make a visit.

            Yes, it's possible to flag down other waiters and that gets easier over time but at the beginning of the meal the waiters that swarm the table are all carrying cheaper cuts.
            The effect diminishes after you've been there for about 20 minutes.

            This is really easy to check. The next time you go see if chicken is one of the first or second cuts they serve. I guarantee it won't be filet.

            1. re: Bob Martinez

              Bob is right - they absolutely bring cheaper cuts first. I remember some terribly dry-looking turkey thing, followed by chicken, then sausage. The sausage is good but the chicken was totally forgettable (and I don't care for turkey so I didn't even taste it). Waiters carrying luscious beef passed by our table, careful not to let us catch their eye, until we'd been approached with cheaper stuff several times.

              1. re: biondanonima

                Thanks for the backup. I've been there 5 times and I've had the same experience on each visit. Once you know the strategy it's easy enough to wait them out.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  They bring out meat in limited quantities - for example they bring skirt steak maybe enough for only 3 tables. So they have the ability to stagger and do it in whatever order they want.

                  I have experienced every time there what Bob is describing. They push the cheap cuts early on so you will not have room or time for the better cuts.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    Bob a better strategy is to "order" what you want. Brazilians ask for specific cuts, I have talked to "gauchos" working at rodizios and they say that Americans universally wait for them to bring meats around. They absolutely take advantage of this and push all sorts of random fillers (garlic bread, etc). It helps if you know the names of the meats (at least the sometimes wrong English translations they use), but barring that, you should be able to say "Thanks, I don't feel like chicken now, can you send someone over with beef." Each time they stop with something you don't want, request something else (don't wave them away, tell them) -- either the person will bring that by on the next round or they may send someone over. Tell them too, how you want it done and many will assume that Americans don't eat chicken hearts or less common offerings. The cart of beef ribs you can ask for (or even things like suckling pig at a high end churrascarias in Brazil), but may still have to wait (so just ask "is it coming"). Even if you want to try something (like sausage, chicken wrapped with bacon), skip it at first and then ask for it later. At the price Platforma charges they should be able to handle this and if they can't complain to the management.

                  2. re: biondanonima

                    "Waiters carrying luscious beef passed by our table, careful not to let us catch their eye, until we'd been approached with cheaper stuff several times."

                    I've always wondered about what happens in a Churascarria as I've never been ... and this is a great and amusing thread to learn about it. Makes me chuckle just reading.

                    1. re: RCC

                      I was at Plattaforma and they wheeled out a huge cart with the biggest beef ribs you ever saw. Each one had to be more than a pound. Had to make room for one of those bad boys.

            2. i personally don't enjoy churrascaria restaurants. if i want a great steak, i'll go to a great steakhouse. if i want great sausages, i'll go to DBGB...i've been to Plataforma and will say it's not a bad place. it's just not my preference.

              to your second question, consider using Sunday morning to hit Murray's for cheese, Kee's for chocolates, Payard's for macaroons, Porto Rico for coffee...they're all in the West Village, so if the weather is nice, it could make for fun shopping.

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              Murray's Cheese
              254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

              Kee's Chocolates
              80 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

              Porto Rico Importing Co.
              201 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

              DBGB
              299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

              Francois Payard Bakery
              116 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

              1. Thank you so much everyone! We went to Churrascaria Plataforma this past weekend and my husband loved it. We agree with Bob Martinez, the food was good but not as good as a steakhouse (or even my husband's cooking). But the experience was a lot of fun and we had a great time. The salad bar was delicious and I was half tempted to skip the meat and eat just that! We asked the maitre d' what the most unusual meat they had on the menu and he suggested chicken heart. He made sure they brought some to us and it seemed like they cooked it just for us. I really enjoyed it! It had a very strong flavor that reminded me of sausage.

                And Bob was right about being offered the sausages first, followed by the chicken. :-)

                Itaunas, the maitre d' seemed honestly surprised that we were happy to try the chicken hearts. I was delighted that he suggested it but of course I did ask a pretty open question. I like to ask the people that work at the restaurants what the best options are. Many waiters are afraid to make suggestions, but the ones that do usually send me to something I wouldn't have thought to try and I end up loving it. I wanted to try the yucca flour with bacon just because I had never had it, but he said "it tastes like sand - how about I bring you some fried yucca" which we enjoyed.

                Coasts, we walked around Sunday looking for some good gourmet markets but many things were closed so we gave up.

                I don't think Plataforma will be our favorite place to eat in the city, but it was fun to try. Thanks to everyone for the advice. I'm truly impressed with the community here on chowhound!!

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                Churrascaria Plataforma
                316 West 49th Street, New York, NY 10019

                6 Replies
                1. re: tiggermistyv

                  "I was half tempted to skip the meat and eat just that!"

                  Yep, that's what they're counting on. People fill up on the salad bar and then don't eat a lot of the expensive meat, which comes out after the cheap meat. By the time the expensive meats come to your table, you're too full. That's how they make their money.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    Yeah, that and charging $15 for a Chapprina that has no alcohol in it.

                    1. re: princeofpork

                      And they make their money by charging you $60 per person, but only a small percentage of people actually eat $60 worth of food. I know I never eat that much!

                      1. re: princeofpork

                        What's a Chapprina? Google shows nothing. Do you mean the drink with cachaca? A caipirinha?

                        1. re: thegforceny

                          is Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça (pronounced [kaˈʃasɐ]) (sugar cane rum), sugar and lime.[1] Cachaça is Brazil's most common distilled alcoholic beverage. While both rum and cachaça are made from sugarcane-derived products, most rum is made from molasses. Specifically with cachaça, the alcohol results from the fermentation of sugarcane juice that is afterwards distilled

                          1. re: princeofpork

                            Yes, I know what a caipirinha is (note spelling). And mention cachaca. (I speak Portuguese and am familiar with the pronunciation.)

                            I have no idea what a CHAPPRINA is. Was that just a crazy misspelling of caipirinha?