The Discriminating Dinner headed slightly out of the area to experience an extraordinary dinning experience on Miami Beach. When we have friends or relatives visit, we find ourselves bringing them over to this area on day trips so they can see Miami and the beaches on the East Coast of Florida. We had heard very good things about this restaurant. It had a buffet to die for, service that went above and beyond anything the SW Florida area offers and while it is a bit pricy, it is definitely worth every cent you pay to enjoy this experience!! So let us start off by saying that if you want an extraordinary experience, whether it is just you and a significant other or if you have any type of guests in from out of town and really want to show them what a Floridian “FIVE STAR EXPERIENCE” is all about, then Fogo De Chao is the place you want go!!!
A member in our dinning party was celebrating a Birthday, albeit it was actually on the prior week, we planned to do our celebrating of it on this day. Reservations were made online and in the special requests notation box it was mentioned that we were celebrating a birthday. Received an email confirmation that the reservation was accepted. The reservation was made for 3:30 on a Sunday. The reservation was made as we were not sure if they would be busy with a full house and we did not want to have to wait a long while for our dinning experience. We left SW Florida in plenty of time to make our 3:30 reservation time. GPS served us well, especially on the east coast with the large interstate highways and heavy volume of traffic. GPS had us on track and to our destination in time for our seating time. Valet Parking is highly recommended as parking is a premium in the area of Miami Beach. The Valet Parking was $12 and well worth the price as then we did not have to find a metered spot and ensure we put enough change in it to satisfy the time for our culinary experience.
Upon arrival we pulled up to Fogo De Chao, the Valet Attendants were warm, friendly and very welcoming!! Nice way to start this experience! We walked inside and every person that worked at Fogo De Chao took the time to say hello and welcome us to their restaurant. Again, a nice touch that truly sets the tone for your dinning experience. We walked up to the Hostess station and stated we had reservations and gave them the name. They confirmed the name and number in the party and promptly shoed us to our table. Now at this point, no mention was made of the birthday celebration that we had indicated when we made our reservation. We were not too concerned as the birthday person did not know we had done this part. As we arrived at our table there were two individuals waiting for us! This was most surprising and just added to our experience! The one person, a waiter, helped us with our seats and ensured we were comfortable. The other was a Dinning Room Manager. I know he told us his name but I was so shocked at the level of service that I just did not catch it. This gentleman then went on to ask if we had ever been to Fogo De Chao. We all answered no. At this point he smiled and welcomed us and thanked us for selecting Fogo De Chao. He then went on to explain how everything worked. From the small tongs on the table to the elaborate salad bar that awaited us to the small green and red coasters that were on the table. In brief I will give you the run down. The tongs are for when the meat is served, as it comes to you table side and carved for your pleasure in front of you. You use the tongs when the waiters carve the meat so you can place it on your plate. The Salad Bar had many delicious selections of some of the finest and freshest food I had ever seen at any Buffett any place! He invited us to as many trips as we wanted, and did so in a way that truly made you feel welcomed there!! It was almost as if this was his home and he wanted you to know that you were an honored guest!! How fantastic is that?!!!! Lastly the funny little green/red coasters. Place them so the red side is up and none of the meat waiters will stop and see if you would like the meat selection they are serving. Put the green side up and any waiter serving meat will stop, indicate the meat they are serving and inquire if you would like some. At that point, he asked for our drink order, which we gave him, and then he smiled and said to pace ourselves so we could get the most enjoyment out of all Fogo De Chao has to offer. He then said that the salad bar awaits, plates are at the Salad Bar and welcomed us to begin our dinning experience.
I guess I have never truly been at a Five Star Restaurant before, as the food truly looked like art, sitting on the Salad Bar of crushed ice and beautiful serving dishes. Everything was fresh, the vegetables, the salads, the meats, the cheeses, the breads, the condiments, everything looked as though it was just harvested and prepared in their kitchen. I was in awe at what I was seeing!! Tomatoes that were definitely vine ripened, asparagus that had a green to it that made it look beyond delicious! I was so glad that I could make more than one trip, otherwise I was going to need a large platter so I could try everything. Creating a salad plate that looked like art work as the food was just more than I had expected, I sat at my table and began what was to be one of the best eating experiences I had ever had in my life. Our drink orders were waiting for us when we arrived back at our table after our first trip to the salad bar. The iced tea was splendid and our other dinning partner ordered a sprite which was sitting on the table next to a glass of ice and when he sat down, a floor waiter come over to pour it for him, and when the glass was half empty the remainder was poured for him! As we all began to eat we all commented that this was some of the freshest food we had ever eaten in a restaurant. You could actually taste the freshness. As we were eating we began to look around. The décor was truly of a Brazilian nature, but not over stated. Just enough to give the room a warm and welcoming feel. We also commented that we were glad we had made reservations, as they had only been open for 30 minutes and they were doing a great business!! Also we noticed that the dress attire was truly casual. Put us in mind of people dressing for a TGIFridays, comfortable and casual. It makes one feel as though you are the special guests at a great friend’s house that are giving a dinner party in your honor, showing no expense just pure appreciation!
We did not want to start our meat selections yet as we had notice a hot part to the salad bar and wanted to try those items. Scallop Potatoes, White Rice, Black Beans with Port and a Brazilian Rice dish. All items were again fresh and delightful to the pallet. Now was the time to start with the meat selections. At this point, sides of Crispy Hot Polenta, Caramelized Bananas and Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Cheese were set on the table along with a basket of Pao de Queijo (Warm Cheese Bread – which were small Cream Puffs filled with a delightful Cheese Filling). I will note here that when the sides were done, more were placed on the table!! I will also mention here that if they were not eaten promptly they would get cold, but not to worry as if you let the wait staff know they will quickly replace them for you! Before turning our cards over, we looked at the meat menu to look at all the types of meat that were being served in the dinning room. Two types of Lamp (Leg of Lamb and Lamb Chops), Three Types of Port Parmesan Crusted Port loin, Pork Ribs, Pork Sausage), Three types of Chicken (Chicken Breasts wrapped in Bacon, Legs and Rolled Thighs) and Six types of Beef (Sirloin, Tenderloin, Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin, Filet wrapped in Bacon, and Prime Rib). Between the three of us we tried each selection at least once and the ones we truly enjoyed two, three and four times!!! None of the servers ever made you feel awkward, they all wanted to ensure you were happy and truly give you as much as you wanted!! Even when our cards were not turned up to the green, they would come over and politely as if we wanted some more! Sometimes it was “yes please” and sometimes it was “no thank you, taking a small break” to which they smiled and went about the dinning room serving other individuals! I will tell you this much, each meat was prepared so it had flavor like we have never tasted, was juicy and tender like butter and seemed to never stop coming. When we were first in the dinning room, we wondered if the meat stayed hot as it was walking around the dinning room. To our absolute amazement, yes it does! It stay hot just as if it just came off the open flame!!! Hot, flavors that create a culinary experience you can only dream of and enough to fill you up and then some!!! If you go away hungry, if you go away without feeling this true culinary experience, then it truly is your own fault!!!! These folks go well beyond regular standards to give you a culinary experience that will be second to none and have you sitting there wondering two things. When you will be coming back and with whom you want to share this culinary experience of a life time!!!!!
At one point, the Dinning Room Manager came over and asked if we were finished or if we were just taking a break. We said just taking a break! He then took the opportunity to ask us how everything was and we all indicated that is has been a phenomenal experience! He smiled, thank us and told us to continue to enjoy all Fogo De Chau had to offer! Again, nice touch!!! When we did get our fill and when I say our fill, we were loosening our pants as they had become too small by this point. The wait staff asked us if we wanted dessert or anything and we smiled and said yes please! Dessert menus were delivered and the wait staff had said that they knew we were celebrating a birthday and had inquired whose birthday it was! We identified the Birthday Person, a hearty Happy Birthday was offered and we were then asked if we had decided, to which we say “oh yes we have”! We ordered a Cheese Cake with Strawberries to go, Birthday Person ordered the Molten Chocolate Cake with Cappuccino and Flan with Coffee. At this point we all began talking about the culinary experience we had just experience, how it was so worth the drive, how we wished there was a Fogo De Chao in SW Florida and how if there was how it would give the higher end restaurants a good run for their money and truly show them what Five Star Dinning truly was all about, great food, great service and an atmosphere that was warm and welcoming and not stuffy or pretentious at all! It seems as though Fogo De Chao truly understands the main ingredients to a successful FIVE STAR DINNING EXPERIENCE that people are willing to pay top dollar to receive. Fogo De Chao was busy from the time we sat down to the time we left, busy with happily satisfied customers, that we were sure would be coming back!!! Our Desserts arrived and truly delivered a Five Star finish to this experience! The Molten Cake was moist, delicious and had flavor for days! I must tell you that it was served with Ice Cream and a candle with “Happy Birthday” written on the plate!!! This was truly the topping on the cake to make this a great Culinary Experience!!! Just to let you know, the Birthday Dessert was “on the house”!!! Way to go Fogo De Chao!!!! The Flan was off the chain good!! You want real honest to goodness Flan, make the trip to Fogo De Chao and I promise you that you will get the best Flan you have ever had in your life! As of the time of writing this review, well you guess it, the Cheese Cake with Strawberries had been eaten. I asked how it was and they just indicated that it was good, real good………….in between licking the to-go container clean!!! Yea that is the kind of stuff you can do at home, but not in public!!!
If you want to treat yourself to a wonderful Culinary Experience that will have your pallet thanking your weeks, for months to come, head to Fogo De Chao on Miami Beach. Do you have folks coming from out of town and you want to do something special for them, offer them this experience and you will be the talk of their vacation for sure!!! Our total bill, including the Valet Parking came to $250 for three people. That comes to $83 and change per person, not bad for a Five Star Culinary Experience where you are made to feel like royalty!!!! Check Fogo De Chao out online at www.fogodechao.com, look over their menu, watch their video and read all about them!!! This will certainly be an invitation to travel to visit them and experience for yourself a FIVE STAR CULINARY DINNING EXPERIENCE you will be glad you treated yourself and your guests to!!!!! It is well worth the drive and you will truly be able to know what a Five Star Culinary Dinning Experience is all about within this world!!!
When you go, let them know you heard about them from the Discriminating Dinner on What’s Up Southwest Florida!!!!