One of the things I love most about living in Central Florida is that with our theme parks and attractions, we can lose ourselves in a “foreign country” or a fantasy experience any day we choose. When my editor asked me to review Nelore Churrascaria on Lyman Avenue in Winter Park, little did I know that I was stepping into a total Brazilian experience for the glorious time that my dining partner and I were there.
It took only a few minutes to figure out that the lack of a menu at Nelore is a good thing! Dining at Nelore is so much more than simply going to a restaurant. It’s a true Brazilian experience. For the evening meal, there are two choices. The first choice is the “whole experience” (which I recommend highly), and the second choice is the salad bar. The “whole experience” is based on traditional Brazilian hospitality, beginning with the staff who were literally hired from Brazil.
Brazil is known for raising a significant amount of meat for the world, and one of the first things you see at Nelore are the gauchos who are happily carrying huge skewers of meat around the dining room. A gaucho is a Brazilian cowboy, and these restaurant gauchos arrive at your table to slice as much as you can eat of any of 15 cuts of beef, chicken, lamb or pork (plus salad bar) that make up the “whole experience.” Please trust me when I say that each of the meats was incredibly delicious — and I tried almost all 15. And when the filet mignon was too rare for my personal taste, my friendly gaucho took it right back to the kitchen so he could slice it to my liking.
I had never done this before, but in one evening, I tried leg of lamb, top sirloin, filet mignon, chicken breast (wrapped in bacon), ribs (both pork and beef), flank steak (amazing), “garlic beef,” sausage and rib-eye steak. In order to do that many samplings, the servings may be of any size you wish. It’s an extraordinary experience, and the servers have a kind of sixth sense about visiting your table with their next offering and/or allowing you time to enjoy what you’ve chosen.
And remember that Nelore’s extensive salad bar is part of the experience. To call it a “salad bar” does not do this tasteful buffet justice, and one can certainly make a full meal of the more than 40 hot and cold dishes offered here. Salad bar offerings include soups, grilled vegetables (my favorite was the asparagus), a variety of cheeses, pastas, shrimp, salmon and of course salads. And you may visit the “salad bar” as often as you wish.
My guest and I enjoyed the “house red wine” for dinner, and I checked twice with my server to be sure she had brought the “house red” to the table. It was so good that I could hardly believe it was a “house wine.”
Nelore exceeded my every expectation, and they wish to make your experience even more wonderful. Mention this review and they will take 15 percent off your bill. If you crave an evening where it’s all about the meat — or you just need a fantasy evening in Brazil — I highly recommend Nelore.
Nelore Churrascaria is at 115 E. Lyman Ave., just off Park Avenue in Winter Park. They are open from 5-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. on Friday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Call 407-645-1112 for reservations.