There’s something so satisfying about having a handsome young man come to the table bearing a sword of sizzling meat, a large chef’s knife and a chef’s jacket that’s seen some serious kitchen action, and say, “Hello, I’m your gaucho for this evening.”
Biteclub’s been slow on the take for the opening of Brasa, a Brazilian churrascaria and brewpub that recently opened in downtown Santa Rosa, but the World Cup sparked an interest in celebrating all that is Brazilian. Meaning lots of meat, strong caipirinhas and pao de Queijo—a dreamy cheese bread.
For the uninitiated, churrascaria roughly translated from Portuguese describes meat, fish or produce cooked on a skewer over a hot grill. Think steakhouse meets a hot spit.
What you’re there for is the never-ending meat parade, or rodizio. For $40 (per person), you’ll get a salad, vegetable, rice, cheese bread, beans, fried plantains and yucca, and all the steak, pork loin, bacon-wrapped chicken you can eat. Just in case you missed that: All you can eat meat.
Gauchos come by the table every 5 minutes or so with more sharp implements than Edward Scissorhands, and slice or slide off a fresh batch of sizzling, crispy deliciousness. Unless, of course, you flip your coaster-sized sign to red. Then they’ll hold off while you stuff down the growing pile of carnivorousness before you. Flip it back to green, and the gauchos will continue to feed you. Until you cry for mercy. And you will.
The secret to effective churrascaria-eating is to come hungry, not power-nosh the pre-meat courses (you’ll want to, but be strong) and pace yourself. The rodizio at Brasa includes top sirloin, garlic-marinated sirloin, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, garlic chicken thighs, chicken and pork sausages, pork loin with Parmesan cheese, grilled pineapple and New York strip steak. Let me again say, go slow.
For my money, best bets are the pork loin, garlic sirloin, steak and pineapple. Oh, the pineapple. Smokey, a bit charred and infused with tasty meat drippins’. Chew on that for a minute, then un-invite your vegetarian friends.
An important note here: You cannot take any leftovers from the rodizio home. It’s not explained on the menu and Biteclub got burned after hoarding a few bites of each of the meats to sample again the next day. And the next. Sadly it was all whisked away, headed for (sob) the trash. Super bummer.
Leave room for one of the best desserts ever dreamed up: Chocolate and Brazilian carmel covered strawberries ($8). It’s like the best bon-bon you’ve ever eaten and worth every penny.
There’s a full bar, expansive outdoor seating and a lovely lounge area with comfy seats and low tables for eating a nibble or two with your cocktail.
As a side note: All the meats ($7-$8), fried yucca ($6), and cheese bread ($5) are also available a la carte, once you’ve really narrowed in on what you like best. Skip the salads (yawn) and vegetable dishes (double yawn). You’re here for meat, after all. There are also pizzas (a killer oven was left over from the last occupant), but honestly, you’re here for the meat. And your own, personal, gaucho.
Brasa Churrascaria and Brew Pub, open Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30p.m. to 10:30p.m. for dinner (later for cocktails and lounge). Throughout the World Cup, they’ll also be offering an abbreviated lunch menu from 12 to 3.m. on match days when the games start after noon. 505 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, (707) 623-9382, thebrasa.com.