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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013

Brazilian steak house is meat lovers’ paradise



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Brazilian steak house is meat lovers’ paradise photo
Waiter Calvin Cochran (center) carves a slice of flank steak off the skewer for restaurant guest Jeff Rich of Wellington. Texas de Brazil is a new restaurant at Downtown at the Gardens that features the Brazilian-style rodizio way of serving its freshly grilled meats. Servers walk around with large skewered meats, slicing them tableside. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)
Brazilian steak house is meat lovers’ paradise photo
Texas de Brazil is a new restaurant at Downtown at the Gardens that features the Brazilian-style rodizio way of serving its freshly grilled meats. Servers walk around with large skewered meats, slicing them tableside. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)
Brazilian steak house is meat lovers’ paradise photo
Salad bar. Texas de Brazil is a new restaurant at Downtown at the Gardens that features the Brazilian-style rodizio way of serving its freshly grilled meats. Servers walk around with large skewered meats, slicing them tableside. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)
Brazilian steak house is meat lovers’ paradise photo
Meats and olives on the salad bar. Texas de Brazil is a new restaurant at Downtown at the Gardens that features the Brazilian-style rodizio way of serving its freshly grilled meats. Servers walk around with large skewered meats, slicing them tableside. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)

By Liz Balmaseda

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Welcome to the pageant of meats that is Texas de Brazil. Hope you’re famished.

If you are, prepare to feast. The Dallas-based Brazilian steak house chain, which opened a fine-looking location in Palm Beach Gardens in early December, is primed to feed you. And feed you.

The chain’s concept, established in 1998, is brilliantly simple: offer a prix fixe dinner ($42.99 per person) that includes a knock-your-socks-off salad bar and all the fresh roasted, sliced-tableside protein you can eat.

Dinner is served in the southern Brazilian rodizio style – that is, in rotation – in which servers in gaucho garb come by bearing swords brimming with meats, say, grilled filet mignon, skirt steak (and several other cuts of beef), leg of lamb, chicken wings, roasted pork.

It may sound like a free-for-all, but it’s all very civilized, really. When you are seated, you are given a token that’s red on one side, green on the other. You place the token green side up when you’d like the meat rodizio to begin. You flip it over to red, when you want to enjoy your meal without interruption.

But before we dig into the meats, you should know that there’s more to Texas de Brazil than the protein fest. There’s attentive service, servers who set the tone for your evening by explaining the concept, describing the meats and cocktail selections (the signature beverage, of course, is Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha).

Because we were first-timers at the banquet, our terrific server gave us a preview that was more play-by-play than introduction. He even explained that the sweet fried bananas served with the meal are considered to be a Brazilian palate cleanser of sorts, and encouraged us to take a bite of banana before moving on to another grilled meat.

Palate-cleanser or not, those bananas –not ripe plantains, but still sweet and caramelized – were heavenly.

But it would be a little while before we were ready for the sweet bananas or the meat rotation. First, a basket of delicious hot, cheesy rolls arrived with our drinks. Then came the marvelous salad bar (which is $24.99 if ordered separately).

The 50-plus-item salad bar alone can make a sumptuous meal. It’s ideal if prefer a lighter, non-rodizio meal or a vegetarian dinner. A vast array of salads, marinated veggies, pickled fare, tabbouleh, cured olives, fabulous cheeses like Manchego, fresh mozzarella and young, creamy cheeses, cured meats and sausages, along with a smaller hot bar of lobster bisque, beans, rice, potatoes and such.

(I should note that take-home containers are off limits here for the salad bar and rodizio items. Only desserts, which are not included in the prix fixe, can be packaged to go.)

As seduced as you may be by the salad bar, know that the main attraction of meats is a staggering one. There will be lamb chops, filet mignon, bacon-wrapped filet, bacon-wrapped chicken, beef ribs, flank steak, crispy-skinned Brazilian sausage, leg of lamb, Parmesan chicken, pork loin, and the restaurant’s signature cut, the picanha, the fat-on, top sirloin cap.

Picanha, which is served grilled simply and also garlic-infused, supposedly is the rage here – and it was quite good. But my favorite item on the rodizio was the seared lamb chop. I also loved the Parmesan chicken bites, which make a terrific first-round rodizio pick.

Meats are seasoned simply, but well, with salt and pepper, and they’re roasted slowly in an open-flame grill. The result is meat with a perfect char outside, but a juicy medium-rare inside. (If you prefer your meat cooked to a warmer temperature, let your servers know.)

If you’ve been judicious with your portions – or if you’re celebrating a special occasion – you just may have room for dessert. If so, try the crème brulee ($7) or the Brazilian cheesecake ($7.50). Either are nice for sharing.

For diners who want more options, this may be a place to visit only occasionally. The steak house’s success – its lavish focus on meats – is also its greatest limitation. But for hardcore carnivores are likely to find at least a dozen reasons to return again and again to Texas de Brazil.


REVIEW

Texas de Brazil

FOOD: A-

SERVICE: A

ADDRESS: 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens (main courtyard in the Downtown at the Gardens complex), Palm Beach Gardens

TELEPHONE: 561-293-7478

WEBSITE: www.TexasDeBrazil.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate to expensive

KID-FRIENDLY PRICES: Children 6 to 12 dine at half-price; kids ages 3 to 5 dine for $5; kids under 2 dine for free.

HOURS: Open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday from 5 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday from 4 to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m.

CREDIT CARDS: Major credit cards

RESERVATIONS: Accepted, and available online at www.TexasDeBrazil.com; walk-ins welcome

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, including restrooms

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:

A — Excellent

B — Good

C — Average

D — Poor

F — Don’t bother

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