Boi Na Braza
441 Vine St.
Boi Na Braza, which translates from the Portuguese as "steer over embers," is an upscale, authentic Brazilian churrascaria featuring 15 different cuts of open-roasted beef, lamb, pork and poultry, served continuously at your table by Gauchos. Upon being seated, each guest is given a colored disc: green means "Hey Gaucho, come over here with a skewer of meat and carve some off for me" and red means "leave me alone, I’m eating!" It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet where the food circles you instead of vice versa.
Yes, I know what you are thinking: "Why would a vegetarian go to a steak house?!" I’ll admit it sounds crazy, but just settle down and bear with me. Basically, I was outnumbered. We had some British friends visiting recently and they were all quite keen to give this place a try, and I’d heard that the restaurant has a really excellent salad bar, so what the hey. After being assured by the maitre de that I’d have plenty of choice, I decided to give it a go.
And I’m glad that I did, because Boi Na Braza does have an excellent salad bar, although "salad bar" is a misleading nomenclature for what is a good-sized buffet with both hot and cold items; everything from stuffed artichokes and pasta salads to hot, creamy mashed potatoes, garlic mushrooms and steamed broccoli in cream sauce. There are also dessert-type selections like chilled fruit salad, which was magnificent. They offer a nice selection of cheeses, and boast several different types of salad, plus a large number of toppings, including stuffed olives, gherkins, sun-dried tomatoes and marinated asparagus. Although there were only a few of the hot dishes that were vegetarian (I was gutted to see chunks of ham in the black bean soup), there was more than enough choice for a vegetarian to fill up on, and I did my best to oblige.
At over twenty bucks for the salad bar (the full dinner experience is fifty clams) it’s not cheap, and vegetarians will probably have a hard time getting their money's worth because appetites can only be stretched so far, but that is not to say the place is poor value. The food was excellent, our friends couldn’t get enough of the leg of lamb, and the gorgeous creamy mashed potatoes pushed me right over the edge until I couldn’t possibly have eaten another forkful. Steak houses are obviously not really my thing, but if I'm ever asked to go to Boi Na Braza again I know that there are enough veggie options on the salad bar to sate.
If you go, be sure to try a Caipirinha. It’s a Brazilian rum drink with lime and sugar which is light, refreshing, and as we found out, will knock you for a loop and make you really mess up at Guitar Hero later in the evening.