1 star for Brickell's Brasileiro churrascaria
Brasileiro hardly stands out from Miami’s churrascaria herd
Four Ambassadors Suites Hotel, 801 Brickell Bay Dr., Miami
Hours: 11am-11pm Monday-Wednesday, 11am- midnight Thursday-Saturday, 11am-10pm Sunday
Prices: Salads and appetizers $6-$18, entrees $18-$34, all-you-can eat rodizio-style meat $39, dessert $5-$8
Brasileiro, a Brazilian-style churrascaria that opened in July in Brickell’s Four Ambassadors Hotel, is hardly forging new ground with its all-you-can-eat-meat concept. It joins Fogo de Chão, Texas de Brazil, Steak Brasil, areacode55, Brazaviva and others in this crowded steakhouse subcategory.
Two things set Brasileiro apart.
First, it has no salad bar. That will disappoint anyone accustomed to the refreshing reprieve that mozzarella balls and eggplant terrines provide at other churrascarias’ cold stations.
Instead, Brasileiro’s onslaught of oversalted, unevenly cooked meat is accompanied by a choice of fried potatoes, fried yuca, fried banana, potato salad or rice. Not exactly a meal that makes you feel like dancing afterward.
Second, the rest of Brasileiro’s confused menu — even its “Brazilian fusion” tag doesn’t explain Indian-spiced lamb sliders or bacon mac and cheese — is a piecemeal collection from executive chef Guily Booth’s previous stints.
Her signature crab cake (nothing says Brazil like crab cakes) followed her from Cafeina (2010) in Wynwood to Yuca (2011) and the Local House (2012) in Miami Beach. The cake is perfectly acceptable, garnished with fried capers for a briny crunch, but more of the “secret” tartar sauce could have helped mask its dryness.
An appetizer of croquettes with spicy guava cream and entrees of black seafood risotto and airline chicken are all straight from (and still on) the Local House’s menu. A sea of butter-logged, room-temperature mashed potatoes quickly enveloped the dainty but undercooked breast-drumette cut.
Octopus carpaccio, another Local House remnant, layers on all manner of odds and ends to cover up its bland, clammy star ingredient. Mandarin orange segments, chorizo “dust,” fried capers, diced tomatoes, lemon aioli, fresh herbs and some sort of sweet soy did not create a coherent whole. An eyelash revealed itself on the underside of a piece of octopus; next dish, please.
I wanted to try Booth’s combination of pepperoni sauce and orange jam with her crispy calamari steak, but on two visits, servers told me the kitchen had just run out of the dish.
Keeping items in stock seems to be an issue for Brasileiro. Several wines and beers on the menu were not available, and the dessert list was so depleted that our server found it easier to point out the few items that remained.
The all-you-can-eat rodizio option includes about a dozen cuts of meat as well as cooked pineapple, served by eager-to-please passadors who showed hustle as they circulated Brasileiro’s spacious bayfront dining room with skewers and long knives.
None of the meat, from pork sausages to Brazilian picanha to chicken hearts, displayed any of the charring or flavor that comes from cooking over wood or charcoal, as is traditional in churrasco cookery. The skewers spin in large, stainless-steel broilers, long enough for most of the meat I encountered to turn a sad hue of gray.
Besides being overcooked — the chicken hearts literally bounced off a plate — the food is heavily salted. Dinner chapped my lips.
Gluts of passadors emerged after long droughts. Even with our table’s coasters flipped to the red side, indicating “meat break,” they came and sliced away. This was especially ridiculous when the knives cleared after our previous course had not been replaced, leaving us to sit there and watch the well-done meat we hadn’t asked for wither in front of us.
There is purportedly a lunch menu with a less-expensive rodizio option along with sandwiches and hamburgers. On a recent lunch visit, however, I was given a grease-stained dinner menu.
I’m still scratching my head about what was double in the double-cut hanger steak salad I ordered. It certainly was not the amount of food: eight puny, silver-dollar-size slices of cold, purple-raw meat (I asked for medium-rare) fanned next to half a head of “artisan” romaine lettuce.
Dessert is not worth sticking around for. Booth’s passion fruit pie (she made it at Local House) was one of the unavailable items. The white chocolate bread pudding that our server pushed had all the moistness of a loaf of bread. The molten orange chocolate cake had zero orange flavor and about as much creativity as crab cakes and bacon mac and cheese.
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