It is said that cooking churrasco is like a religion in Brazil. This devotion to meat grilled over wood or charcoal fire is so intense that it’s not unusual to see the streets covered in barbecue smoke – a pleasant sight and scent for ardent meat lovers – during weekends and holidays.
But apparently Brazil is not alone in its meat fetish; South America, parts of Europe and even the Middle East are all big meat lovers too.
And embracing the churrascaria concept to the hilt is Texas de Brazil, a US restaurant chain that has found great success and followers here in the UAE.
Founded in 1998 in Texas, a state known for its rodeo cook offs, barbecue contests and backyard grills, Texas de Brazil officially opened in Abu Dhabi earlier this year to much hype.
Aside from the vast dining space and inviting red painted walls, the sight of flames and billowing smoke from the open kitchen are enough to lure in any curious (or hungry) guest from the mall.
The fixed-price buffet concept is straightforward: you come in, choose your seat and off you go – ordering by way of the traditional menu is a foreign concept here, except for the beverages.
I make my way to the open gourmet salad area, which boasts a wide selection of hot and cold items such as the creamy lobster bisque, which proves to be a winner with its punchy seafood taste.
Equally delectable is the potatoes au gratin, loaded with cheese sauce and pleasantly savoury. You can also add more refined foods to your plate like thin slices of smoked salmon, shrimp salad ceviche and a selection of cheeses.
The stars of the show, however, are the fine meat cuts.
In true churrascaria fashion, the slow-cooked, marinated meats are paraded on skewers by the gauchos, or waiters, tasked with skilfully slicing pieces of meat straight onto the guests’ plates.
The tender filet mignon wrapped in beef bacon is mouthwatering from the first bite, while the braised beef ribs boasts a smoky and peppery flavour that typifies a good steak.
I love how tender the lamb chops are without diminishing its sweet-tangy taste. It’s not dry either, which is a good indication that it’s been cooked properly to maintain its natural taste and moisture – delicious.
Offering a break from the meat options are juicy and tender skewered prawns and crispy parmesan chicken drumettes.
And if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all that meat, you can always scamper back to the salad bar to add a bit of colour to your plate, or throw in some sweets such as the chocolate mousse cake or crème brûlée.
With an endless supply of well grilled meat and attentive service, it won’t be surprising if this Brazilian concept finds a growing group of converts in the capital.
Need to know:
Location: Texas de Brazil, Cascade Dining, Yas Mall, Yas Island
We say: An affordable all-you-can-eat meat experience
Cost: AED 330 for two
Opening times: Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-11pm
Contact: 02 563 1424, texasdebrazil.com