fogo de chao restaurant steakhouse sign
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Fogo de Chao – Minneapolis (Review)

If you’re thinking of attending this restaurant, thinking it’s a “fancy place to take the little woman”, I don’t recommend it.

For my birthday, I said I wanted to go to the “meat on a sword” place, figuring it would be a “once every few years” luxury. And the time is ticking on how long I can take advantage of such things before my doctor says I can’t go anymore (“Your LCL must be this high to ride”). The novelty is responsible for its notoriety. But like Disneyland, the reality isn’t as great.

Said novelty is that it’s a form of buffet-style. The meat-men occasionally come around with skewered meat and serve it to you. There’s parmesan-crusted pork tenderloin, filet mignon, top cut sirloin, lamb, etc. And also a salad bar you partake of. For, like, nutrients and stuff. And there are sides of fried polenta, caramelized bananas, and mashed potatoes.

I admit, I was entranced by the crazy idea of it all. I loves me some meat. And a place where they come around and serve you as much as you want? And they cut it off of a sword? Sign me up. But…

For one thing, the salad bar is severely underwhelming. People were just jumping in wherever they wanted, making it super slow. For the number of people there, the setup wasn’t efficient. And despite the fact that I was saving myself for the meat, there was very little I actually wanted. Some fruit like kiwi (uncut) and pineapple, some cold pasta salads, cheeses, and deli meats. Dress it up as much as you want, a fancy potato salad is still a potato salad. Who would want cold steamed broccoli? For the price I’m paying I’m expecting a cruise ship style buffet. Loads of shrimp and seafood, custom omelets, things with fancy Italian names. It wasn’t any different from a Byerly’s salad bar.

The other big thing is that there is only so much meat you can eat. As delightful as it is to say “yes” to everyone who offers it you, being constantly interrupted is a little annoying if you’re in the middle of the conversation. Not a good place for a date (but then, buffets usually aren’t). The meat is top-notch certainly, but something about the quantity diminishes the quality. Kind of like Magic: the Gathering cards–if there are a lot of rare cards, they cease to be special.

Speaking of buffets, they’re a young man’s game. I figure I’m at the age where I shouldn’t eat so much to make myself sick. There’s no one I have to prove myself to that I can eat a lot. It’s not a contest.

The icing on the cake–and I don’t know if this is their policy or not–but our server* said he’d give us free dessert if we left a five-star review (on what platform, I don’t know). First, I feel like this is a loaded request–who’s going to take him up on his offer? The goal of a buffet is for them not to make any money off of you. No one wants dessert after that. Second, I do not appreciate being “sold” my experience like a used car salesman. Asking for a dishonest review is dishonest itself. If you have to bribe people to say they like it, that sours my experience.

*We didn’t know how much to tip because we never had a single server — there was always someone new between drinks, menus, bussing, check-ups, bill. Do they have shapeshifters working there?

In conclusion, I won’t be going back there again. The bloom is off the rose. And it’s like they know the event’s excitement diminishes so they employ cheap tricks to get better word-of-mouth. I’ve decided I would rather have one good finite meal than as much as I could eat of anything, good or bad.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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