Providence, Rhode Island’s New Restaurant Made Me Love Steak: Fogo de Chao Review

by Victor Martelle
Updated:

Fogo de Chao opened its Providence, Rhode Island location August 28th, 2023. They have over 50 locations in the US alone and growing. They’ve gained rep through their luxury Brazilian churrascaria style meat “buffet.” Not only that, they also their famously tasty Brazilian style sides and have a Market Table to suit most needs.

I first want to mention: I am very privileged to have experienced such a place. The cost is nothing to scoff at, potentially costing hundreds of dollars for a dinner with your friends (there are coupons they send if you subscribe to their emails). Despite the cost, the experience as a whole is so, so worth it. From how you’re greeted to when your seated, all the way to the end, it’s clear you are getting what you paid for. Genuinely, they make you feel like royalty.

To start this experience, I had made a reservation through their website. It was fairly simple to do although it would have been nice to see what times are open on which day instead of having to go through each day and hour individually. Having made this reservation beforehand, we walked into Fogo de Chao confidently. However, I immediately noticed the small host desk was swarmed with people. Indeed, only one person seemed to be working it. Eventually, I got to the front and was seated shortly after.

Upon being seated, we were greeted by our server who quickly explained the “rules”, albeit, these rules were simply “if you order the full churrasco dinner, people will come around your table with different meats and you get access to the Market Table.” It was hastily explained and left us confused. Are we able to get up anytime for the Market Table? Do we wait for our drinks and meat first? Can we request meats? What about the sides we’ve heard about?

A minute later, another server came up and asked us the same questions, apparently the first server wasn’t ours anymore already? We indicated we wanted to go for the churrasco dinner, she took our drink orders, left, and that’s when even another person came up and described himself as a customer rep (I forgot the exact title) where his job was to make our experience the best it could be.

Market Table / Salad Bar

Having watched videos of how Fogo works beforehand, we had an idea on what to do first: get up to visit the Market Table. Immediately, we noticed this area had an dangerously slippery floor and while the options looked elegant, there weren’t many. Just a small amount of meat and cheese varieties—no crackers or carb to match them with which made it awkward (do I just eat this giant pepperoni slice by itself?), basic salads, beans with pork, vegetables, a soup, and of course, their famous candied bacon slices. Stock of a few items were low, one or two were empty.

For the most part, the items offered were bland and mostly flavorless. However, the two standouts were the butternut squash and candied bacon. Both were sweet, full of unique and complex flavors, and something we got up to get several more servings of. Ultimately, the Market Table needs saving, perhaps offering carb combos with their slices meats and cheese, refilling stock, seasoning their food more, and frankly, just straight up having more options.

Churrascaria

First, we aren’t the biggest fans of steak or pork. Did we make a mistake going to a steakhouse? The short answer, no. The long answer…

After we got some of the Market items and went back to our table, it wasn’t long before we were approached by someone with a large sausage on skewers. He offered us a sample, though, we were confused. Do we give him our plate? Does he cut it for us? It was a bit awkward at first but basically, we had to use the little tongs on our table to take the pieces he cuts. After they left—it seemed like almost immediately after, another person approached with a different kind of meat. Then again… and again… and so forth. It felt overwhelming, almost rushed, but we eventually got the hang of it and it no longer felt annoying. We also saw there were round cards on our table that we could use that indicate if we want to be offered more meat, though, even when we displayed that we didn’t, offerings at a lesser occurrence still came to our table.

What was especially great is that since the meats rotated so often, you would eventually get a cut of any doneness you wanted. And, the variety! From different types of meats to how they all could differ in their seasoning; lamb, chicken, pork, and steaks, it seemed like they had an infinite amount of meat types and combinations, and indeed, we didn’t even get to try all of them! My personal favorites were the parmesan coated steak, pork belly, bacon wrapped chicken, and the bacon wrapped filet mignon… it was a meat lovers paradise!

I truly believe that even if you’re picky about meats as we are, it doesn’t matter. Pick your least favorite meat item, Fogo will ensure that you’ll love their versions. None of it was bland, the textures were premium, and it’s clear that a lot of time and prep went into making each and every cut. I genuinely can’t believe I was demanding more steak, a meat I actively avoid!

Not to mention, all of the free sides they presented to us were delicious and often refilled if they were getting low. What was offered was: Brazilian cheese bread balls, mashed potatoes, bits of grilled cheese topped with honey, thick fried square-cut polenta topped with parmesan, and sweet caramelized plantains.

Lastly, the alcoholic drinks and cocktails were excellent and around $10 each. They rivaled some of the local places and were leagues ahead of your average chain restaurant drink. Put simply, they tasted as good as they looked.

Service

Note: We were sat near their refilling booth where they house a lot of extra cutlery, water, etc. Servers frequented here so that could have biased things.

The service we were given from start to finish was nothing short of incredible. Some specific examples: as someone who chugs their drink, my water never reached the bottom before it was promptly refilled; there was an instance where we were cut a piece of meat and they realized there was a minor issue with it, literally sprinted back to the kitchen, and offered us a better piece; our customer rep and server constantly checked up on us and even though I only mentioned this was a birthday dinner at the beginning, they somehow remembered almost 2 hours later, offering us a free dessert (with a candle and ‘Happy Birthday’ on the plate) of our choice.

Each individual who came to our table with the cuts of meat was an absolute joy. Big smiles encapsulated their expression, and they always asked how we’re doing and were willing to get us anything we needed. At the very end of our night, our server and customer rep thanked us, and another staff member even came up to us, made a quick, friendly conversation, and told us he’d hope to see us again. Overall, the service was wonderful and the best I have ever experienced in a restaurant.

Overall Pros / Cons

– For the price, overall, it’s worth it.
– Rules aren’t fully explained; there’s a learning curve.
– Very attentive service.
– Meats are cooked to different levels of doneness and rotated extremely often.
– Meats and sides are seasoned very well.
– You aren’t charged for throwing away food you don’t like, though, this leads to waste.
– Drinks and cocktails are cheap and some of the best around.
– Free birthday dessert and sometimes they have coupons.

Cons:
– Market Table is small and lackluster.
– Most of the Market Table foods are bland.
– Market Table is dangerously slippery.
– Restrooms are dangerously dark.
– Lack of sustainability; lots of food and high cuts of meats are thrown away. I’d feel better if it was locally composted.
– Host desk is overwhelmed and needs more people manning it.



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