Your Nomerati and (left to right) Sarah, Johanna, Jeff and Tim
We tried to prepare ourselves. Made our reservation. Wore stretchy pants. Ate crackers for lunch.
It wasn’t enough.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Rodizio Steakhouse model, let me explain the meat monster we are dealing with. At Boi Na Braza, it’s a fixed price menu for all the meat you can eat. 15 different kinds of meat, actually.
I’m not talking about salisbury steak swimming in gravy above a pathetic sterno can—oh no—I’m talking about top and bottom sirloin, filet mignon, beef ribs, chicken, pork ribs, rump roast, lamb chops, pork loin and lamb leg. All roasted over coals and brought to your table still sizzling.
The price? Around 47.00 a person. Pricey, yes, but considering the fact that you could sit there and eat around $40.00 of filet mignon (as Tim and Jeff tried to do), I don’t think it’s unreasonable. The cost includes all the meaty goodness, and the salad bar, which has way more than just salad. You can get the salad bar only for $29.00.
David and I had been to one other Rodizio Steakhouse before, the now deposed Amor De Brazil, so we knew what to expect.
Upon seating, the run down is given about the colorful coasters that adorn your table. Red on one side, reading “No, Thanks” and green on the other, stating “Yes, Please”. These are your signals to the servers, or Gauchos, walking past, if you want them to continue slicing meat off on your plate.
The coasters are a good idea for two reasons: one—it makes it easy for the servers carrying large hunks of sizzling meat around to see if you want any and come to you. Two—it’s difficult to say “yes please” when your mouth is already full of meat. [David interjects: “that’s what she said.” I guess that’s what I get for letting him edit my posts.]
We were there as soon as they opened, which meant after I checked with our host that it was OK I got to take pictures of the artfully arranged salad bar. We also had some yummy appetizers at the table, including a type of Brazilian cheese bread, beef pasta of some sort, fried yucca, fried polenta, and maduras.
Bacon is always a good place to start
here fishy fishy fishy
Broccoli with cheese sauce
Hearts of palm
This is butter, not cheeseballs. We figured it out after David tried one.
Edible turnip flowers!I came back to the table, took a deep breath, and flipped over my coaster. The first meat to appear was bacon wrapped chicken breast. I took one and began to try it. I had only gotten halfway through the chicken when the top sirloin appeared. Yup, I wanted that too. I switched gears and went for the beef.
That’s when the bacon wrapped filet mignon showed up. Yes, please. And then the beef ribs. And then the bottom sirloin. And then regular filet mignon. And the lamb leg. My head was starting to spin as the carousel of meat continued.
There was not much talking at our table, other than various grunts and “yes pleases” and specifying to the Gaucho what level of doneness we wanted our meats. Sarah chose medium well, I chose medium or medium rare, David and Jeff went with rare.
As we struggled to keep up with the varieties of meat being presented to us, I quickly fell behind and began mixing my cuts up. Was this top or bottom sirloin? I didn’t know. And it was all very good so I didn’t care. I had long since abandoned my chicken breast in bacon. I really liked the rump roast, which is the house specialty. Tim and Jeff were partial to the filet, and David agreed with me that the rump roast was his favorite. He also liked the lamb. Sarah and Johanna liked the filet and the top sirloin.
Tim and Jeff continued to pile on the filet while speculating how many ounces they’d put away. Johanna, Sarah and I leaned back in our chairs and squirmed to make more room. My tummy finally cried uncle at the massive amounts of delicious, rotisserie cooked beef I had been devouring and I was forced to flip over my coaster to red.
I got up and walked around the restaurant, rubbing my belly. I’m sure it’s a common sight at Boi Na Braza. I had noticed where the Gauchos were coming from and went over to take pictures of them coming out the kitchen with their various dishes.
I was trying to be sneaky and take pictures of the grill, which I could only see about two feet of, when I heard a voice behind me say
“Hey, you can’t do that.”
Do what? I felt like a kid who had been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I turned around the see the smiling face of the Manager, Mr. N.
“Come with me” he said, motioning me to follow him back to the kitchen.
Yikes, it was hot. I asked him the temperature next to the grill, he checked the hood at said it was at 150 degrees.
He then asked me if I would like to come back in about ½ an hour, when more meat would be cooking away. I absolutely would.
I happily trotted back to the table, telling David that I was going to get some awesome pictures of the cooking meat menagerie in the kitchen. I then changed my shoes from my stilettos to the tennis shoes in my bag in preparation of another trip to the kitchen and watched Tim and Jeff, who somehow were still eating meat.
Johanna and Sarah were looking a little dazed and discussing dessert.
I talked with David a little until it was time to go back to the Kitchen. The grill area of the kitchen is simple and clean, not a lot of clutter other than the meat itself, on stainless steel. A large meat freezer sits farther off, as well as a more involved prep area for the salad bar.
As I took pictures, I asked a lot of questions. How much meat do they go through in a night? My answer –on Valentine’s Day, a busy night, they went through about 800 lbs of meat.
I found out that my guide had been working in Rodizios since he was 18 years old, first in Brazil, where he was from, then later in Texas, and now here in Cincinnati.
I tried to stay out of the way of the Gauchos considering their long, sharp knives and skewers, but it wasn’t necessary. Everyone was very considerate and let me take all the pictures that I wanted to.
I learned that after the cuts of meat are sliced off to diners, they are taken back to the kitchen, brushed with salt and placed back on the grill to create the maximum amount of roasty deliciousness. I saw all the different meats and cuts rotating slowly around on their stainless steel skewers like a little meat ballet.
After thanking everyone, at taking some more pictures of very patient Gauchos and their offerings, I headed back to the table to show my pictures of the kitchen.
The dessert cart was rolling around, and Johanna decided to finish with cheesecake. Sarah chose the chocolate mousse, which looked and smelled divine. They offered to share, but at this point my stomach was just starting to trust me again after all I had put it through so I stuck with coffee. David got the espresso, which he said was very good.
Tim and Jeff asked for more filet. After finishing that, everyone finally admitted defeat and we asked for our check.
We didn’t indulge in any alcoholic beverages, but Boi Na Braza serves teeny bottles of diet coke for 2.50 each, and we went through ten of those. The desserts were additional, as were the coffees. We were all expecting the hefty bill, so we only felt a little guilty. I thought it was well worth it. It was a great experience, and I appreciated learning more about Rodizio style steakhouses and peeking in the kitchen.
All the staff were very considerate and welcoming, and I’d definitely recommend Boi Na Braza to another person for a special occasion. I also recommend not eating lunch if you are planning on going, and pacing yourself once you get there. Enjoy!