Does this Brazilian steakhouse “meat” our expectations?

We’re surprised it’s taken Fogo de Chao this long to set up shop in Dubai. The high-end steakhouse was founded in Brazil almost 40 years ago, and has been on the path to world domination ever since, with more than 50 restaurants around the globe.

But Fogo is here now, and has nabbed itself a pretty sweet (although rather difficult to find) spot in DIFC. It’s an enormous space, with a main dining area, bar and lounge, and a lovely spacious outdoor terrace looking right out onto the Burj Khalifa.

In the middle of the main dining area there’s a market table, which includes a spread of salads, fruit, cooked vegetables, cold cuts and cheeses. It’s all very fresh and beautifully presented – but let’s not kid ourselves, you won’t be coming here to fill up on greens.

We went for the Full Churrasco Experience, which costs Dhs299 per person and includes unlimited trips to the market table, and unlimited meat.

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First things first: Churrasco is a southern Brazilian cooking technique where meats are slow-cooked over an open fire. At Fogo de Chao, every cut of meat is carved tableside by Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs.

Your waiter gives you a little card that is green on one side, and red on the other. When you place the card facing green side up on the table, it signals that you are ready for meat. When you place it red side up, it means you want the, err, “meat flow” to stop.

The system might sound suspiciously simple, but the team at Fogo has it down to a fine art, deftly weaving between tables and proffering juicy junks of meat on skewers.

We never wanted for meat, that’s for sure. In fact, at times there was so much meat on our plates, we weren’t exactly sure what we were eating. But we can say with confidence there wasn’t a single dud cut; every piece was succulent and flavourful.

Side dishes served to the table included mashed potato, and the unexpected yet not unwelcome palate cleanser of fried banana.

As far as meat fests go, Fogo de Chao is a quality one. Oh, and our top tip? Go on an empty stomach.

Fogo de Chao, Podium 3, Central Park Towers, DIFC, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 343 8867. More info on website.

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