Review: Raising the steaks with Chamas Abu Dhabi's Churrascaria night
All you can eat meat? Challenge accepted…
We’re at InterContinental Abu Dhabi’s award-winning Brazillian steakhouse — Chamas, to try out their churrascaria night.
It’s a thrice-weekly theatre for the carnivorous, a traditional South American all-you-can-eat conveyor belt of quality cuts. And we’ve come prepared, attired in stretchy waistbands, for this is a meaty Everest we were born to climb.
Chamas has interior and terrace seating, both possessed of their own charms. Despite an inclination to sit amongst the flickering flame-pillar lamps and drink in the marina views, there’s still a lingering winter chill in the air, so we opt for the cosy low-lit interior.
After being seated, we begin to notice a few departures from the standard restaurant experience. There’s a slim disc-shaped card placed on the table alongside our cutlery, it’s a traffic light indicator for our servers. The green on one side translates as ‘feed me’, a signal for the passing gauchos to carve you off a slice of their freshly grilled cargo.
The red is of course for ‘stop please’, temporary submission, a moment on the ropes before you’re ready to head into the ring for the next round.
And it’s not solely a meat feast. There’s a whole elaborate buffet of sides, appetisers and dishes that would happily compose a meal in their own right. But we’ve already flipped the disc, and the first meat delivery arrives at our table.
It’s garlic beef, cooked to a perfect medium and skilfully shaved off a sword-mounted-joint by the attending gaucho in the house ‘espetocorrido‘ style. The rich flavour of the grill, and roundness of the marinade are an early reassurance that this will be an enjoyable ascent up the meat mountain.
Our signal stays green and more cuts follow, with a variety of preparations and provenance. Wagyu, Black Angus, Hereford and other breeds are given signature Latin rubs before being cooked over flame. There are veal and juicy salt marsh lamb cuts too, and cinnamon sprinkled grilled pineapple for palate cleansing purposes.
In between servings, we grab some assorted side dishes from the buffet. Brazillian salad, tacos and seafood, it’s all of that top-rung brunch standard, we’ve come (perhaps unreasonably) to expect from buffets in the region, but it’s undoubtedly the waves of skewered-beef that are the main protagonist of this story.
Reluctantly, we turn the disc to red and hit pause on the meat climb, because with an all-you-can-eat service, the summit is never liable to loom into view. We’re here to enjoy the journey, and that — we very much have — cheerily heading off to base camp for a light round of cheese and dessert. And, maybe, a bit more beef.
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Verdict: Chamas is, without doubt, one of the city’s top steakhouses and this churrascaria package is an essential excursion for the capital’s meat fanciers. Rating: A.
InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen, Wed to Fri 6pm to 11pm, food only package Dhs325, soft Dhs385, house Dhs485, kids Dhs175. Tel: (800) 423 463, @chamasad