Meat

Fogo de Chão translate in Portuguese as “Fire Ground”. Such a fitting name when you are talking about meat cooked with direct fire. When you think of Brazilian BBQ, Churrascaria in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills to be exact, Fogo de Chao comes to mind. If you put endless quality meats together with Beverly Hills, you know its going to be expensive. Taking advantage of the Dine LA menu, you save nearly 20 bucks a person. Not only do you get to eat all the meat you want, but well, I guess that’s it. Bottom line, its a buffet, but nothing like the cheapy-deapy stuff. I tend do eat everything and anything that is served at buffets, so I had to strategize. Not a lot of carbs, just meat. You and your green on one side, red on the other coaster, and your meat. My coaster was on green for a while, meaning, bring on the meat! The servers made sure I had the cut of meat I wanted. Servers with swords came by and carved away at the perfectly cooked meats — think meat skewers for a T-Rex. I got lucky and always had the outer crust — that’s where all the flavor is. Green means go — I was ready to eat.

Speaking of strategy, the restaurant has their own game plan — get guests full on breads and carbs. As am appetizer, they serve some pão de queijo, the bread. Freshly baked and warm, they were so chewy and gooey in the middle with a nice milky flavor. You can easily eat too much of these and leave no room for the meat. Be careful. To add to this carbohydrage stomach filler, they give three sides — garlic mashed potatoes, crispy fried polenta, caramelized bananas. They even offer more sides of rice, beans, and forofa upon request. Wanting the meat, I forewent the extra sides. My favorite were the crispy polenta. It tasted like large sheets of french fries with a crunch like no other. The caramelized bananas were great in between meats — It helped keep the taste buds alive, going back and forth from savory to sweet. The sides were delicious and plenty, but I made sure not to over do it.

Brazilian Barbecue restaurants have a lot of signature meats. Bellow are some of the popular meats served:

Picanha: This is their Top Sirloin. The meat is very tender and lean with a nice fat layer encapsulating the meat.

Alcatra: This is also their Top Sirloin. This had a strong beef flavor, probably the most of the group.

Filet Mignon: Of course, this was one of my favorites. Not wrapped in bacon like other Churrascarias, this one was the purest and cleanest beef of the bunch. Though very lean, it was very juicy. It was the softest of them all and it melted in your mouth.

Ancho: This is the Rib Eye. One of my favorite cuts of beef, this was one of my favorites. It had a good balance of fat and meat. It was cooked perfectly.

Fraldinha: This is the Bottom Sirloin. The meat was tender as well but had more marbled fat within the meat. I liked this far more that the Picanha.

Cordeiro: This is the Lamb. I am not much of a lamb fan. They cooked it well enough to make it juicy and not so gamey.

Frango: This is the Chicken. On the bone, the flavor was clean and of the highest quality. It was cooked nicely with a tasty seasoning on the outside. It was a nice pair with the Linguica.

Linguica: This is the Sausage. It had a nice snap with the natural casing. The sausage was salty and not too fatty. It was perfect with the chicken.

Fogo’s salad bar was impressive as well. Ranging from vegetables, salads, cheeses, salumi, sauces, and more, they were perfect pairings with the meat. Some of the things that stood out were the endive, cheeses, and bacon. Yes, they had a whole bowl full of fried bacon. Any buffet with a large bowl full of bacon is fine by me. Another thumbs up for me was the whole Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese wheel. This was the real stuff, from Italy. It was great with the prosciutto and the meat. All of the vegetables and cheeses were great with the meat.

The Dine LA menu has changed since the past. Fogo was a few bucks cheaper and gave dessert at the end of the meal. Though the dessert was taken off the menu, it was still a great deal. The meat was amazingly tasty and generously seasoned. The sides and salad bar was fresh and good quality. When you dine at Fogo, you are eating like Kings. Thanks to Dine LA and Restaurant Week, I could do it for cheap(er). Any carnivore like myself can appreciate Brazilian BBQ, but at the end of the day, it’s a buffet, a mega chain that exists all over Brazil and United States. At the end of my meal, I got my money’s worth and felt I needed to take a shower. Covered in meat sweat and filled with grease, I was satisfied.

Carnivores 1 / Vegetarians 0

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I go to The Grove only once in a while. The sights and ambiance are cool, and the shopping is pretty abundant. I am more interested in the Farmers Market next door. Walking from the parking lot into The Grove, I always saw Morel’s and wanted to eat there one day. The ambiance was nice and seemed a bit pricey. Not being really dinner time, I decided to get some snacking/sharable items. I opted for the macaroni gratin and charcuterie plate. I almost ordered the cheese fondue, as it is their most popular plate. In hind sight, I think I did okay.

The macaroni gratin was glazed with emmental cheese. The cream sauce that the noodle were in was smooth. It was a solid mac and cheese dish — very classical. I never had emmental cheese before, and it worked very well in this. The best part was the toasted top which gave it a nice textural crunch. This was a great side dish.

A lover of salted cured meats, the charcuterie plate was a must. It included prosciutto di Parma (my favorite), garlic sausage, coppa, duck prosciutto, dry mountain sausage, chicken liver mouse, toasted baguette, and housemade pickles. The plate was huge and the assortment of meats were amazing. My personal and all time favorite, prosciutto was amazingly buttery and fatty. Delicious. The most unique of the meats was the duck prosciutto. It had a dark red texture and the taste was very delicate. The depth of flavor was very intense. The picked vegetables were a perfect match as well.  It helped cut the fattiness of the cured meats.  Everything was very good with the bread and complimentary pesto.

I was glad that I got to try Morel’s. Yeah it is a steakhouse, and I didn’t order the steak. I was close, but I figured it was much too much food. Maybe next time. The ambiance is great. Sitting outside is pleasurable as you gaze upon the busy Grove hustle and bustle. It seams like they have a little bit of everything from seafood, beef, to snacking items. The Grove has some nice eateries, Morel’s included.

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Animal – The Carnivore Eats Bones And All

by Franklin on December 16, 2011

As the name of the restaurant hints at, Animal isn’t for everyone.  Vegetarians especially won’t be too fond of this place.  For me though, this is home.  As a self proclaimed carnivore, it’s no wonder that this place is one of my favorite places to dine in Los Angeles. To put it bluntly, their menu consists of cooked animals.  In all seriousness, the food here is a creative and classical take on all things meat.  The portions at Animal are small.  I treated this outing as a sort of tapas style, small plates kind of deal.

We first had the chicken liver toast.  The chicken liver puree on top of the crispy toast was very creamy and tasty.  It was like pate you find in bahn mi sandwiches, but butter quality of course. The caramelized onions gave it the nice sweetness and flavor that it needed.  It was a great start to my Animal adventure.

Next up was the bone marrow.  This rich fatty dish is one of my favorites.  Smearing the bone marrow over the baguette and taking a bite was pure bliss.  The fat was so buttery and flavorful.  The acidity from the chimmichuri helped cut the fat a bit.  The caramelized onions also gave it a nice sweet flavor as well.  This was decadence at its core.

The barbecue pork belly sandwich sliders were amazing.  The pork had a nice balance of meat and fat and was very soft.  Most of the time, pork belly cooks to become kind of rubbery, especially the skin.  I don’t know how they did it, but it was soft and almost butter like.  The slaw gave it that bite and gave it that texture I wanted.    The bread helped keep everything together and the slaw gave it a crunchy bite. All together, it had a great balance and was delicious.

For dessert, dessert was special;  They even have animals in their dessert.  Their bacon chocolate crunch bar with s&p ice cream is their famous dessert (s&p being salt and pepper). The chocolate bar was some kind of mouse or fudge of some sort.  Surrounding it were hard crunchy pieces of bacon.  Over the plate was a dusting of bacon powder.  It was an amazing flavor profile that is so unique.  It wasn’t too sweet and the bacon didn’t over power the dessert.  The salt and pepper ice cream on the side was interesting.  It was sweet enough to be a dessert, but the salty was just in the background. It was a perfect sweet and salty mix.  These two items were sweet and salty perfected and a perfect finisher to our meal.

Eating at animal was really a great experience.  For a carnivore like me, why wouldn’t it be?  The cuisine was down to earth, but the chef spins it enough to make it interesting. Honestly, the menu is pretty straight forward, and most of the stuff looked interesting to try.  Next time I go, I want to try their poutine and maybe a dish with froi gras.  Anything on the menu here seems like a winner.  Until next time.

Animal on Urbanspoon

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Wurstküche – Downtown Has The Best Of The Wurst

by Franklin on September 11, 2011

This whole experience eating at Wurstküche was kind of bizarre come to think of it.  First of all, the location is so low key.  It is located just outside of Downtown and Little Toyko.  Aside from a couple of other restaurants, Wurstküche is the only restaurants amongst the vacant lofts and warehouses. Once you weather through the long lines and the almost Nazi-like ordering process, you are finally inside.

The inside was almost like a NYC underground bar.  It was dark, a DJ was playing some hipster jams, and people were seated in and around the perimeter of the restaurant.  The center had long bench style seats, so everyone was sitting next to everyone. It was kind of cool and unique, but uncomfortable at the same time.  You are served your food, and then you start munching.

Wurstküche is known for their unique sausage meats.  The rabbit, veal & pork seasoned with white wine was definitely one of them. The taste was very mellow — the peppers and the mustard really helped round out the flavors.

What is more unique and ironic as eating rattlesnake and rabbit is that it was all in the same sausage.  Who knew these two opposing ends of the food chain would come together inside of a pork casing, and ultimately consumed by me, the top of the food chain? This irony and play on food really made this sausage interesting.  Though a little dry, it was tasty.  I couldn’t help but realize I was eating rattlesnake.

The hot Italian was a classic and one of my favorites.  It was familiar and brought back to something I finally knew. It was what I was used to and “normal”.  It was juicy and had tons of flavor.  This was my back to reality sausage.

All these different sausage combinations could not be enjoyed with the company of some Belgian fries and beer.  The fries were tasty, especially dipping it in some chipotle aioli. It was the perfect side to the sausages.

The beer that finished everything off was Gouden Carolus. This was suggested by one of the workers and it was a great recommendation.  It was smooth in the beginning and a bit bitter at the end.  The beer really helped with the richness of all the fatty sausages.

Wurstküche is an awesome spot.  The downtown hot spot is a step away from the normal restaurants in Los Angeles.  It begs to be different, and it delivers. Everything about the restaurant is unique — and all is tasty.

Wurstküche on Urbanspoon

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