The Brazilian churrascaria craze hits Dubai
Dubai; Traffic is steaming on a Thursday night. Our taxi driver doesn’t know how to reach the hotel, and neither does Google maps so we decide to jump out and make our own way. The entrance is hidden away, in wait for this, a car park, in one of the JBR towers. We stumble in, literally, my heels are killing me. The lift whisks us to the 35th floor, the rooftop. The restaurant is abuzz – a cute, cosy and convivial joint all decked out in oakwood. We’re in Fogueira at the Ramada Plaza JBR, Dubai’s first dedicated Brazilian churrascaria. They are popping up across Dubai as quickly as it takes to skewer the barbequed meat. In the space of six months, we now have three.
The hostess guides us to our reserved table in the corner, but we change our mind and opt for al fresco, overlooking twinkly Dubai. There’s no menu. It’s an all-you-can eat deal, and drink…a trio of hot appetisers rock up. Hot cheesy mini bread rolls – baked with tapioca flour. Am pretty sure the cheese is parmesan, unless it’s the Brazilian equivalent? Warm and stodgy in a good comforting way. Coxinhas – Portuguese for chicken thigh, a typical dish of many South American countries, Brazil included – basically fine shreds of chicken, coated in wheat flour and deep fried. Croquette-like. Yep you’re good, we like you. Deep-fried banana – well that needs no explanation. I would have much preferred this one for dessert.
A quick glance at the salad bar inside, but with pretty standard fare, nothing really stands out – a quinoa salad is by far the most adventurous dish. Ready to commence the churrascaria fest, our waiter tells us (at the start of our evening) to turn over our coasters from red to green. Of course in the dim lighting, we forget until we are reminded. Here the meat is roasted on charcoal, but back in Brazil, wood is sometimes used. Churrasco-style cooking originates from southern Brazil’s Pampa region when the gaucho cowboys cooked their meat over open flames. Infact Fogueira translates to bonfire. Nowadays, passadores, aka meat waiters, arrive at the table with metre-long skewers speared with all types and cuts of meat, which are carved in front of you.
At Fogueira, there’s chicken – medallions and chunky thighs, lamb – chops and diced – and every cut of beef you can imagine, but whilst all the meat is succulent and tender, it’s the Brazilian picanha or rump cap with its slither thin layer of fat that truly stands out for its juicy, caramelised flavour. Oh and there’s barbequed pineapple in between the meat fest which makes for a great palate cleanser. Our accompaniments are served on the table in retro Creuset-like pots – rice, polenta, black beans, mashed potato and farofa – the latter a cassava flour mix toasted with beef bacon. We’re so engrossed in all the meat, we hardly touch the sides. And we forget to turn the coasters over when we need a break, so the meat flows endlessly. One thing’s for sure, this is no restaurant for veggies.
The waiting staff certainly know their meat and can’t do enough for us – but they are a little too attentive for our liking which I put down to the fact my cover is blown. I know this because the sweet waiter whips out a photo of me as we are leaving – bless him, we do have a giggle – as does he. Despite booking with Roundmenu, I am clearly gonna to have to don wigs from now on – anyone know a good supplier?
In the meantime, Fogueira offers a reasonably priced deal for quality meat in a buzzing setting, once you figure out how to get there. With a samba show thrown in, it makes a fab choice for a celebratory and raucous gathering with friends. A couple of other dedicated churrascarias have followed Fogueira’s lead, all beginning with F bizarrely (details below). I don’t know if this town can really sustain three Brazilian restaurants in such close proximity, given that many other South-American restaurants here also serve this barbequed feast. Do you?
Fogueira is located on the 35th floor of the Ramada Plaza JBR at JBR Bahar Tower (car park entrance on the side road). T: +971 4 4398888. The all-you-can eat deal is priced at AED 260 per person including soft beverages, plus another AED 100 for unlimited booze (caipirinhas, beer and vino). Book on RoundMenu and you’ll get a 25% discount on food any night of the week! Open daily for dinner, as well as lunch on weekends. Licensed.
Frevo is located at Fairmont The Palm. T; +971 4 4573457, E; firstname.lastname@example.org Open daily for dinner (AED 295 per person) and brunch on Friday (AED 295 with soft beverages, AED 475 inclusive of booze – not champagne). Licensed.