Fogo de Chão opened in Boston last Friday at the Westin Copley in the space that was formerly occupied by The Palm. We were lucky enough to get a special preview on Thursday night. I have never seen a soft opening of this magnitude so flawlessly executed and my dining companion had never experienced a Churrascaria. So, it was a first for both of us. Fogo de Chão is a chain but it really doesn't have the cookie-cutter feel of a chain. The space is expansive and the service is impeccable.
The first thing you notice when you are seated are these disks. There is one on the table for each diner and they are basically stop and go signs for the gauchos. One side is red, indicating that you are not looking for more meat, the other side is green, indicating, of course, that you are ready for more.
Your dining adventure begins at the large salad bar. You can visit as many times as you want. There are dozens of options ranging from fresh vegetables (steamed and raw), cheeses, cured meats, rice, beans, and smoked salmon. It just goes on and on.
But it doesn't stop there. As soon as your salad plates are cleared you are brought clean plates for the meat options and then side dishes are delivered! I have not always been a fan of team service at restaurants, where one person takes your order, another brings it and then maybe a third brings drinks. In this style of dining, however, it works incredibly well. The staff-to-diner ratio was such that you never had to look for anyone to do anything. Water and drinks were replenished without having to ask, plates were cleared often and sides were replaced constantly. The photo above is of the garlic mashed potatoes that accompany each meal. I really loved these as they were not too heavy on the garlic, which is often the case.
These sticks of fried polenta arrived looking like french fries. The crispy exterior gave way to a totally creamy interior. Lightly dusted with cheese, I only wished I had the stamina to eat more. The caramelized bananas also served were great but my appetite could only afford a scant sample.
Considering the immensity of the food, dinner is a bargain at $48.50 per person. You can also get just the salad bar (a feast in itself) for $24.50 per person. You won't do it every day but when you really want a feed, this is the place to go. It is a hearty feast and a very fun experience.
Fogo de Chão
200 Dartmouth St.
Boston, MA 02116