Steakhouse Offers a Rare Experience

The Detroit News

By: Molly Abraham

It would be easy to get the wrong impression of a restaurant like Texas de Brazil. An all-you-care-to-eat concept turns some people off at the outset. It seems, well, a little déclassé.

Fear not. The outpost of the churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse) that opened this summer in downtown Detroit comes across as just as upscale and well-run as any conventional restaurant.

The handsome room just off the soaring atrium in the Compuware Building does offer a continuing parade of gaucho-dressed servers carrying long skewers of flame-grilled meat from table to table, but heed is paid to the niceties of fine dining.

Texas de Brazil is not a gluttons' paradise. It is much more civilized than that. The courteous servers dish up only the amount of expertly grilled meat that each guest approves.

Flip cards on each table, one side red for no, the other green for yes, let them know diners' desires — although on my recent visit, I noticed that the servers stopped by the table regardless of which side of the flip card was showing. Keep in mind, though, the restaurant does not allow doggie bags.

While guests are welcome to try as many as they wish of the meats — ranging from lovely little lamb chops to the deliciously spicy Portuguese linguica sausages and delicate pork loin, all on skewers, and the September special, prime ribs of beef served on a tray — it's not a case of overkill. Also brought to each table is a basket of Brazilian cheese bread (pao de queijo), and a bowl of garlic mashed potatoes to be served family-style.

To leaven all of the meat, an appealing appetizer buffet allows guests to help themselves to everything from lobster bisque and grilled mushrooms to smoked salmon, marinated olives, slender stalks of asparagus, hearts of palm in Brazilian vinaigrette, tissue-thin slices of prosciutto de Parma and even a bowl of tangy stemmed caper berries to start the meal.

Obviously, it would be easy to compose an entire meal at the appetizer bar, and that is offered as an option. A salad bar it's definitely not, although there are fresh greens among the 50-item array under a towering fresh flower arrangement.

Massive bouquets are one of the hallmarks of the family-owned Texas de Brazil, a company that debuted in Dallas in 1997 and has 20 locations in 11 states and the Caribbean, with the 21st opening soon in New York.

The dining room is done up attractively in deep crimson and dark wood with massive framed mirrors and paintings all around and windows overlooking Woodward Avenue.

Bartenders are kept busy making caipirinha, the classic Brazilian cocktail, muddling fresh lime and sugar in flat-bottomed glasses, adding ice and cachaca, a liquor made from sugarcane. The aroma of the fresh lime almost permeates the small bar. Of course, there are other conventional drinks and a wine list with some emphasis on Chilean wines.

In the early going, Detroit has been giving Texas de Brazil a warm welcome, and it's well deserved.

Thursday, September 15, 2011
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