Restaurant review: Texas de Brazil

By Columbus Alive
From the February 14, 2013 edition

Overheard in Texas de Brazil: “Absolutely not, I cannot swallow another bite. I’ve eaten so much I might’ve damaged my thorax — and I’m not even sure what that is. Wait. Whaddaya got there … lamb chops?”

Without identifying that pathetic glutton (of course it’s me) this is my way of saying that, though Texas de Brazil might sound geographically confused, it knows what it’s doing when it comes to “churrascaria”-style food (I’ll get to its service later). In other words, for rabid carnivores, this all-you-can-eat meat-a-thon is worth the occasional $42 splurge.

Open since mid-January, the Easton branch of this Dallas-based chain obviously celebrates excess. Replacing the old Martini Park, it’s a manly and handsome place that’s huge and roomy underneath what I’d call a medium-rare colored ceiling. The contemporary space also sports a splashy bar, what look like gigantic, mutant red bamboo stalks plus an almost comically enormous flower arrangement above a 50-item (or more) buffet. By the way, that well-tended spread of fresh and good-quality snacks and salads is an early indicator this place is a winner.

Less winning is the unexciting wine list, so do what I did and ask for a caipirinha ($7.50, think Brazilian margarita) that’s “easy on the sweetness.” What you’ll get is a refreshing and delicious cocktail bursting with fresh lime juice. OK, onto the feedbag!

Though the salad bar’s nice, don’t go nuts on it because you’ve got an impressive caravan of meat to buzzsaw through. But you might prep your palate with olives, cornichons and roasted peppers; a citrusy and herby Israeli couscous salad; hearts of romaine with a zingy, salsa-like “Brazilian vinaigrette”; soupy and pleasing feijoada (multi-meat-flavored black beans); zesty marinated shrimp; and — to warm up for the oncoming grilled onslaught — a slew of smoked treats, like caper-topped salmon, oregano-speckled provolone and prosciutto.

Now it’s time to rip into the skillfully rock-salted and sear-crusted meat-fest that makes Texas de Brazil visits a “paleo” thrill-ride. Every juicy slice I attacked scored pretty high (try ’em with the properly garlicky chimichurri sauce); hell, the tender and juicy filet mignon alone was almost worth the price of admission — and I’m not even a huge filet fan. Also swell were killer leg of lamb; especially flavorful “picanha” (a top sirloin cut that’s a Brazilian favorite) and flank steak; thick and bacon-y (if semi-chewy) ribs; bacon-wrapped chicken breast hunks that could pass for pork; casing-popping sausages; and those melt-in-your-mouth baby lamb chops that shoved me over the top. Oh, and I haven’t even talked about the table-delivered real garlic mashers, crispy cinnamon-scented fried bananas and cheese rolls used to periodically reset your taste buds — or hot buffet items like rich au gratin potatoes, marsala-sauced mushrooms and ... well, you get the idea.

On a closing note, complaining about over-attentive service might sound bogus, but the constant hovering and, “Is everything OK!” and “Can I refill your water glass!” questions I experienced made an already busy meal — what with those roving meat-slicing dudes — even less relaxing. In fact my dining partner said she felt like she was under interrogation at times. So yes, refill my water glass — I’m eating a ton of (deliciously) salty meat — but please, do so with less ceremony. I mean, I genuinely appreciate the effort, but turning tableside visitations down a notch would make dinner at definitely worthy Texas de Brazil even better.