It is unusual for me to go to a “chain” restaurant; nevertheless, when invited for the Gaucho Lunch with good friends, I’m not likely to turn down new spots. This post is a little over due, I sincerely apologize to the wonderful people at the Harbor location. I can’t get over what a good deal this is if you are a hungry hippo at lunch – prices start at around $15 for the Market Table and stays under $40 for the all you can eat “Full Churrasco Experience”. Plus, there is a little bit of entertainment with parade of endless meat on skewers as far as the eye can see.
To start, I would definitely check out their bar menu: full of fun and festive seasonal cocktails. I can see why some drinks are staples tho – like this Super Fruit Lemonade: an imported Amazonian spirit: VEEV Açaí with a little Grand Marnier Rouge and muddle fruit (fresh strawberries, blueberries and lemons). Tasty.
When it comes to the food, it takes a little strategic thinking. Thank goodness there were four of us. After an app and a turn at the Market Table, I was filling up before the meat even came close to the table. The market table is huge, with tons of selections to meet almost any dietary restriction – salads, imported cheeses, meats, fresh veggies, a traditional black bean soup, smoked salmon, I must stop listing… Plenty of vegetarian options and healthy sides. This is definitely a deal when it comes to all you can eat. But, do your best to hold off trying everything if you are paying for the gaucho service.
I still think the shrimp cocktail was a hit, and I am not a shrimp loving gal. The shrimp were the size of my fist and served extra cold on the bed of ice. I dipped my perfectly cooked crustacean in the cocktail sauce with a squeeze of lemon. A perfect palate cleanser for the main event.
I had a hard time with the Full Churrasco Experience – there is so much pressure. You have a little circle that is red and green. Just like a stoplight, green means go and red means stop (although many Baltimorean seem to forget…). So, the lovely people bring the meat on a stick and stop at your table if your card is green. In most cases, they ask your temperature preference and slice you as much as you desire. We tried picanha, filet, beef ancho and fraldinha. In my opinion, come prepared with the idea and cuts of meats you really want and plan for those. With 15 different cuts; you’ll probably burst before you get each one.
Overall the meat was a perfect medium rare and each bite super tender and full of flavor. The piranha was a little richer with a stronger meat flavor than the filet. My favorite was the slightly spicy beef ancho. I got a little overwhelmed because I wanted to try everything, and kept forgetting to flip my card. Then I had a plate full of slices and had a hard time remembering which one was which. The folks here also side bombed us with garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, and adorable cheese rolls – Pão De Queijo.
Please do not ask me how we saved room for desert. In fact, I didn’t. But, they are so very pretty. I can’t say I will head back often. It is way to much food for me. There are an abundance of menu choices and most things were seasoned and prepared well.
I am glad I stopped in. Thanks for the meal, Fogo.