Hello, you sexy, irresistable Brazilian piece of meat

by Forager on February 3, 2009

I presume you’re beef? That’s right. It’s churrascaria fever baby.

Recently my friend Jo and I caught up at one of the new churrasco joints that have been springing up all around Sydney – the one we went to was on William Street in East Sydney. Like all churrascarias, it’s an all-you-can-eat affair. Excellent! My stomach and I will take on any buffet, anyday. This challenge was like any other buffet challenge and Jo and I went well prepared, with our stomachs at the ready.

For those not initiated in the art of churrascaria dining, the basic premise is that you have waiters and waitresses who come to your table bearing delicious foods, typically including plenty of charcoal barbequed skewered meat, vegetables, and… not much else actually. You are given a device to indicate your intentions to eat – sometimes it’s a flag or light, in our case it was a small coloured disc – and basically if it’s green: “keep the food coming”; if it’s red: “let me digest the enormous mound of food I have greedily accumulated first”. Churrascarias are definitely not vegetarian friendly. They aren’t even really omnivore friendly as there is a distinct imbalance of vegetables to meat and fresh salad is rarer than a Gordon Ramsey show with no swearing. We’re talking carnivores only.

So what did we eat? In short – everything that came around until we were bursting at the seams and had to shoo away the food bearer. We had the cheese bread puffs – the churrascaria version of Sizzler’s infamous cheesy toasts which serve the same sinister purpose: filler food! Avoid it and move onto the tastier stuff!

We tried a variety of cuts of meat – ham, scotch fillet, rump and chicken. The ham was tasty; the chicken tender; the scotch fillet a delicious, perfectly made medium rare cut that made the whole trip worthwhile and the rump a tough, chewy and disappointing experience after the tenderness of the scotch fillet.

What else was on offer? There were some vegetables to balance out the meal – we had potatoes and zucchini, and of course the ubiquitous “rice-and-beans-and meat”. These were fine as there were low expectations of these as side offerings. We thought much the same of the pineapple but were pleasantly surprised at how delicious and moreish these little morsels were. They were sweet and incredibly juicy and had a subtle hint of toasted cinnamon. We flagged the waitress down for seconds, and then thirds. Yum!

There were some other interesting accompaniments. The sauces include a mildly spicy tomato salsa, a chimichurri sauce (incidentally, very different to our Argentinian chimichurri recipe), and farofa – roasted cassava flour and slightly nutty in flavour.

And their cocktails weren’t half bad either. I had an interesting Bloody Mary made with cachaça instead of vodka. It wasn’t the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had – but it was an interesting twist. Jo had a classic caipirinha which was very generous with the cachaça.

So – what’s the verdict then? Well – it was definitely a fun, engaging and interactive experience. You go there because you like meat, the experience is a ice-breaker and conversation starter and because you like buffet value. You don’t go because you are a connoisseur of fine dining who expects your meat cooked to your specifications and have an extraordinarily developed palate. Unfortunately, because everything is cooked over coals – everything has the same smoky flavour. Not unpleasant, but not for the discerning eater. But for $35pp it’s pretty good value.

Oh – on a side note: in case you’re interested, here’s my strategy for all-you-can-eat challenges. If you’re heading off to an all-you-can-eat dinner, you should be thinking small breakfast, small and early lunch and maybe a very small snack like a piece of fruit between lunch and dinner to ensure you’re not starving by the time you get to dinner and end up “shrinking your stomach” and losing your appetite or going hypoglycemic. If you’re aiming for intake quantity – eat quickly and don’t chew so much. Having said all this, I think my days of challenging people to an all-you-can-eat showdown are over. I am now, thankfully, less of a gourmand and more of a gourmet.

60-70 William St (cnr William & Riley Streets), East Sydney (02) 9360 6070
Open for lunch: Monday – Friday from 12pm; dinner: 7 days from 6pm.

Foodie in the know:
$35pp for all-you-can-eat; reservations recommended; vegetarians need not apply; atmosphere is lively and noisy so it’s great for a gathering of friends, not really for a romantic date; there’s also a Coogee branch at 240 Coogee Bay Road for those near the sea.


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