I’ve told y’all I’m planning a big FIVE-OH birthday party for myself, and I’ve continued to plunk $20 each month into my sinking fund in anticipation of this party. In the meantime, I turned 48 a couple of months ago, and this year I did something I’ve never done before.
Since my husband and I eat out so rarely, I decided to do what I consider to be a major splurge. My mother-in-law and my mom always give me $50 and $20 (respectively) for my birthday, and I know some of you die hard get out of debtors take every dime and throw it at your debt but I decided a few years ago, I work hard for my money and I don’t spend much on frivolous things, so for my birthday I am going to celebrate. Just a little bit – you only live once after all!
Another factor is my current diet. It is difficult to find places to eat that serve food I am allowed to eat. It’s simple enough to eat at a steakhouse, but think of all the side dishes that usually come with those meals. Everything is potato-this or bread-that, or corn-something or other. The first time I went out to eat with one of my friends since I began eating this way we went to Bill Johnson’s Big Apple like we usually do. I realized as I looked at the menu that every single entree comprised of meat, a vegetable, and then starch, starch, starch, starch, starch. The meat and vegetable are cool, but that leaves a very empty plate when that’s all there is.
For my birthday in 2010, my first time eating out since I began GAPS, Mr. A took me to Black Angus Steakhouse. It was then I realized how little meat and vegetables you get, and how much they load you up with starchy side dishes. The first assault came with the fresh baked rolls… oh…. I had eating this new way only six months and I could not allow those things on the table, or they would have jumped into my mouth. I ordered a steak (they are so small!) and the only vegetable available for me to eat was broccoli. Luckily I like broccoli! I could have the salad, but no croutons, thank you. I had to bring my own olive oil and vinegar and for this meal I paid a pretty penny! In case you’re now asking: what can you eat? Lots, actually. And, if you’re really curious, this is the list of foods I eat, as well as the foods/ingredients I avoid.
A friend of mine who also practices this way of eating told me about Brazilian steakhouses. She told me they are usually all you can eat meat, and since one of the foods I can eat is meat, I was intrigued. And I do love meat. So I started to look around to see what we have in Arizona. I found there was the Brazilian Bull and Fogo de Chão. I was leaning toward Brazilian Bull but then I watched the videos each has portraying their restaurants, and decided I wanted to go posh for once. I chose Fogo de Chão even though it was more expensive.
I have to tell you on the way to Fogo de Chão I was having a multitude of second thoughts. Mr. A was also hesitant, thinking this was out of character for me given my normally frugal nature, but willing to indulge my whim. It turns out that we both loved the experience and the meat was delicious. We went for dinner, the cost is $46.50 per person! Before you roast me at the steak stake for spending that kind of money, bear in mind that I have eaten out 5 or 6 times in the last 22 months – surely that counts for something!
Here’s how it works: Once you are seated your waiter takes your drink order, and directs you to the gourmet salad bar. Our waiter told us specifically to not eat too much salad, save room for the meat! :-) Once you have your salad, let them know you’re ready for meat by flipping the round coaster from red to green. Green means go. Shortly after you flip the card to green, here come the gaucho chefs. Each carries a different kind of meat, and there are fifteen types of meat served:
- Picanha (Top Sirloin, served two ways)
- Filet Mignon (Plain or bacon wrapped)
- Beef Ancho (Rib Eye)
- Alcatra (Top Sirloin)
- Fraldinha (Bottom Sirloin)
- Costela (Beef Ribs)
- Cordeiro (Lamb chops or leg of lamb)
- Frango (Chicken – Legs or bacon wrapped chicken breast)
- Costela De Porco (Pork Ribs)
- Lombo (Pork Loin)
- Linguica (Pork Sausage)
We sat at a table alongside the wall, so it was less intimidating as the chefs could not swarm around the entire table. They arrive with the meat on a stake, with a sharp knife, ready to slice the meat. Tell them if you prefer your meat rare, medium or well done. You have a little pair of tongs to grab the meat and carry it to your plate. Each slice is a bite or two of meat, but I’m sure you could ask them for another slice. I wanted to try all of the meats, so I only took a slice or piece of each one offered. When you want to stop the flow of meat, turn the card to red. When you’re ready for more, turn it back to green and here they come again. The Filet Mignon was incredible, the Top Sirloin divine. There are a lot of waiters all over the place and they are very attentive. Throughout the meal the waiters came by to offer us the side dishes which are included in the cost of the meal: pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas. However, we declined them (not eating any of them at this time – the last thing I wanted to do was eat food I haven’t been eating for two years and end up with an upset stomach). Drinks and dessert are extra, and we declined both.
We enjoyed the experience so much that we are planning to go there for Mr. A’s birthday. In fact, Mr. A says it is the best experience he’s ever had at a restaurant! However, this time we plan to go for lunch because you get the same meal for almost half as much, only $28.50 per person instead of $46.50.
What is your favorite splurge? Have you ever gone to one of these all you can eat Brazilian Steakhouses?