As a serious foodie, I admit that one of the things I love about living in Central Florida is that with our Interstate 4 geography, theme parks, attractions, and seemingly never-ending supply of new concept restaurants, we may fantasize ourselves in a foreign country — enjoying an authentic dining experience — any day we choose. Today’s case in point: step into BoiBrazil, a new concept restaurant on Lyman Avenue (just off Park Avenue) in Winter Park, and you step into a total Brazilian meat-lover’s experience.
It took only a few minutes to figure out that the lack of a menu at BoiBrazil is a good thing! As we learned, dining at BoiBrazil is much more than simply going to a restaurant; it’s a true Brazilian experience. As my guest and I happened to be there on a Friday night, there was a terrific singer/guitarist performing — at the perfect sound level I might add — and the hostess added to the South American feel by shaking something like a maraca. Think “The Girl from Ipanema” and you’ve got the sound right.
I asked how many of the restaurant’s employees were from Brazil, and the answer was all of them, because the all-Brazilian owner/partners wanted it to be authentic. Having established authenticity, the reason there is no menu is because, for the evening meal, there are two choices. The first choice is the “whole experience” (which I recommend), and the second choice is the salad bar. The “whole experience” is based on traditional Brazilian hospitality and the fact that Brazil is known for raising a significant amount of meat for the world.
Speaking of authenticity, one of the first things you notice at BoiBrazil is the gauchos who proudly carry 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 12 cuts of meat, including filet mignon, flank steak, top sirloin, garlic beef, two types of sausage, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, lamb, pork loin, ribs (both pork and beef) and one or two others. I promise I did the best I could to keep up. All of this slicing happens after you’ve visited a wonderfully varied salad bar, which altogether makes up the “whole experience” dinner at $27.95. Yay!
In order to do that many samplings, the servings may be of any size you wish. Once you fully understand how it all works, you wordlessly let your gaucho know how much you want by the amount you take with the tongs provided. It’s a special experience, and the servers are so anxious to keep you happy that you sometimes have to make them understand that you simply want to savor what is on your plate (and in your mouth) before you try the next offering.
Filet will, of course, always be a favorite, but I have to say the salt-cured flank steak comes up as most memorable. (Some would find it too salty; I loved it.) I’m not at all sure how it’s done, but South Americans have a way with flank steak that is wonderful. The garlic beef is, as its name implies, loaded with garlic – and I love it. The sausage was fantastic, and the ribs … You get the picture – so much to choose from; so much to enjoy.
And remember that extensive salad bar is part of the experience. To call it a salad bar does not do this buffet justice, and one can certainly make a full meal of the dozens of hot and cold dishes offered here. Standouts include the tomato bisque, the grilled vegetables (I could live on the grilled eggplant), a variety of beautifully presented cheeses, pastas, and of course, salads. Also not to be missed is farofa, from the Yucca plant, served with black beans – yum. And you may visit the salad bar as often as you wish.
As you may surmise, the meal exceeded every expectation, and we were not thinking dessert until Manager Fabio Paduan, sincerely proud of his beautiful dessert menu, talked us into a shared chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. If possible, take a look at the desserts – the menu includes wonderful offerings.
And because he is so proud of those desserts, for those of you who have stayed with me through the review, Fabio would like to offer a complimentary dessert to accompany each complete dinner ordered at your table through the month of April. And you don’t need a coupon; just tell your waitperson “Josh sent me,” and you may enjoy a free dessert for every complete dinner at your table.
If you crave an evening where it’s all about meat, or you need a fantasy evening in Brazil, or you’re just really hungry, BoiBrazil is at 115 E. Lyman Ave. Call 407-636-7366 for reservations.