This guest post is written by Yvonne Gill, a former expat now embracing the burbs of Portland.
I’ve been itching to board an international flight – destination: warm and sunny. So, when my husband recently left for a business trip to Rio de Janeiro, I was tempted to squeeze into his suitcase since Brazil and I had yet to be introduced. While there, he sang praises of the cuisine, specifically the beef.
Brazilians own the technique to prepare a mean steak through their churrasco grilling tradition, leaving one’s taste buds captivated. Slightly jealous I was missing out on the flavors and experience, my husband assured me his newly revered restaurant, Fogo de Chão has a sister spot in Portland, which mimics its authentic location. A few weeks later I tried to relive his Brazilian fête and when our first celebratory occasion arose, to Fogo de Chão we sprinted, as it’s best left for a special occasion.
Its elegant façade dominates the Portland 6th Avenue block. The black and white sign portrayed its classy persona. Upon the first step in the door, the flamed chandelier is eye catching against its simple, classy backdrop. Greeted and escorted to our table, we descended a few stairs to the main dining area.
Standing there with its rainbow of colors: the market table makes a statement. From Brazilian potato salad to an array of Brazilian cheeses, there is something for everyone. I’m usually weary of buffets and avoid them for two reasons: I struggle to practice self-control and a lot of options mean not a lot of flavor, although only the former was true. There were so many mouthwatering decisions, however, I gravitated to the cheese and marinated vegetables.
Signaled by the universal language, green means go and red means stop, color markers on our table cued our waiters carrying an assortment of meat: stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon, sausages, pork and many cuts of steak. When flipped to green, a poised man in typical gaucho attire approached our table asking how we like our meat. “Medium-rare,” I was told to say – it has the texture, which most resembles butter.
The filet mignon enveloped what looked like a sword held high. The waiter took his intimidating knife and slowly trimmed the perfect slice of meat. I took my tongs to catch the delicacy before it fell. I flipped my green marker to red and gazed at the embodiment of the churrasco tradition sitting on my plate. I cut a piece that was big enough to ignite my senses and immediately, my dormant palate awoke.
While a vegetarian may forgo the meat option, the salad bar mirrors a painter’s palette: the vibrancy of each color is good on its own, but when combined with their neighboring color, they’re even more beautiful. In addition to the buffet and meat, we were served side orders of polenta fries, garlic-mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas, showing off luscious Brazilian dishes. For drinks, we stuck with our usual favorites: a recommended IPA beer and a glass of Malbec. Known for their cocktails, I plan to sample those next time. Our children indulged in a Brazilian sweetened drink. Although the bill reflected a night worthy of splurging, the kid’s meals were complimentary and therefore incentive to expand their appetite beyond chicken nuggets and powdered cheese with noodles. For the cuisine and experience, whether a date night or family occasion, we concluded this place is our new favorite.
So, while I couldn’t join my husband in Brazil, Fogo de Chão was the next best thing and as food is an accurate depiction of many cultures, I convinced myself I hopped down to South America, but never had to leave Portland.
Website: – http://www.fogodechao.com
Yvonne Gill is a former American expat who spent time in Brisbane, Australia and Lyon, France. Her experiences ignited a wanderlust mentality, which keeps her dreaming about where in the world to explore next; or more realistically, how to travel at home through a book, movie, restaurant, or activity and she writes about it all on ybexpat.com. She currently resides just outside of Portland with her husband and two young children.