I still remember the awe I felt, aged 15 and travelling around South America with my parents and sister, when I discovered the existence of a type of restaurant in which you could help yourself to from an expansive hot and cold buffet, before returning to your table, where handsome waiters would bring skewers of meat and shining sharp swords, to carve hot grilled meat onto your plate. Wonderful, delicious meat of all kinds, cooked just as you like it, brought to your table hot from the grill. Again and again and again! Until you were finally conceded defeat and turned your personal stop go counter to red to indicate you could take no more.
Churrascarias, as Brazilian steakhouses are called, are named for the charcoal barbeques on which the meat is cooked. And charging a fixed price, then bringing food to the customers at their tables until they signify they've had enough, is known as rodizio. That name may derive from the Portuguese for rotation (rotação), in reference to the continuous circling of waiters coming to the tables, but there's no direct translation into English.
Luckily, we don't really need a translation, as the churrascaria de rodizio is gaining in popularity in London and it surely won't be long before everyone knows just what that means!
Having had a disappointing London churrascaria de rodizio experience earlier this year, I was a bit nervous when I accepted an invitation from Rodizio Rico to visit their newest location down in Fulham Broadway.
But I had a wonderful evening enjoying a really wide range of expertly cooked meats, some very reasonably priced cocktails (£6-7.50) and a tasty selection from their buffet. By the time they brought out some desserts for us to share, few of us could squeeze in more than a mouthful!
For unlimited 'prime cuts' churrascaria and buffet, the price is just £23.50, which I think is incredibly good value.
The quality of the buffet items was pretty good, though I felt it was a little limited in scale. It did feature a number of authentic Brazilian favourites though, including pork scratchings and breaded rice balls. I've been told that the buffet at the Angel Islington branch is better, so I'll be heading in that direction soon.
The meats were very good indeed.
I've only pictured a few of the meat skewers above but we were also brought platters of ribs, ands steak, many different cuts of beef and lamb, plump chicken wings, tasty chewy chicken hearts (these are one of my favourites so was very happy to see them here) and even a huge joint of meat stuffed with cheese that oozed out through slits in the surface.
Apparently, the churrascaria de rodizio is also called espeto corrido in some parts of Brazil, which translates as "continuous skewers" and that's exactly what we experienced! Fresh skewers came out so often that I found myself turning my counter to Stop on numerous occasions.
Even the desserts were authentic, with lots of condensed milk and sticky sweet chocolate.
I really liked the experience at Rodizio Rico. Food was excellent and authentic too; service quick, efficient and friendly and it would be very hard to beat on value. For me, it's particularly well suited to dining with a big gang of carnivorous friends.
There are currently four branches at Westbourne Grove, Islington, the O2 and Fulham Broadway.
Kavey Eats dined as a guest of Rodizio Rico.