Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fogo de Chao

The Wife took me to Fogo de Chao for a lovely birthday dinner a couple weeks ago.  I had first heard about this place on Bill Simmons' podcast and had been very curious to try it.

They have a tutorial on their website to let you know how they run the dining experience.  You pay one flat charge per person and essentially stuff yourself with heaps and heaps of food.  There is a very upscale salad bar that was quite good.  I would have gone back for more but I just took one bite of the items I wanted since the big draw of Fogo is the meat.

Once you're done with the salad bar portion, you flip a card over on the table and the Meat Swordsmen come up to your table quickly and frequently and offer you different cuts of meat - Picanha, Filet Mignon, beef ribs, lamb, bacon wrapped chicken breasts, Parmesan encrusted pork loin, sausage and a couple other ones.  They also bring you cheese rolls, polenta, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas.  And they keep offering you meat and side dishes until you flip the card back over and throw in the towel and/or vomit at the table.

I liked that there was one flat fee for the experience, and it's all you can eat.  I tried to eat light during the daytime but even I got stuffed in a short period of time.  It is pricey (about $56) so you feel like you should eat your money's worth. A beer was reasonably priced at about $5 so at least they don't screw you over on drink prices, too.

The big downside is that with so many meats to try, you're tempted to try one of everything to see what you really like, but by the time you try them all, you're full. My advice - the picanha (house specialty top sirloin) was hands down the best. Skip the chicken because...well, it's chicken.  You can have that anywhere. I'm not a fan of ribs, the sausage was okay and I personally can't really tell the difference between cuts of beef. Stick to the picanha, parmesan pork loins and lamb. The polenta was excellent and the cheese rolls are super good.

Another downside is there are no take home boxes so a lot of the food gets wasted! I kind of understand that because anyone could load up 10 slabs of filet mignon and then ask for a to go box but still...I always feel bad about wasting food. (Ask me about the week old mushroom pasta leftovers I ate that ended up making me sick sometime.)

Overall, a good dining experience. It gets hectic because there are a TON of people walking around (going to the salad bar, Meat Swordsmen roaming around, etc.) so it's not exactly a romantic destination. I'd go there maybe every other year just to experience it again but not more frequently than that at that price.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pay Attention!

New pet peeve of mine - when you're out to dinner with a big group of people, the waiter comes by with food and no one pays attention to them.  Maybe it's just me but I tend to be hyper aware of people around me, so I always feel bad for the waiters standing there with four plates balanced up and down their arms, and no one else can bother to turn around and say, "The salad with ranch is mine."

I can't tell you how many big group dinners I've been to where the waiter is walking up and down the entire group of 15 saying, "Mozzarella sticks...who has the mozzarella sticks?" only to have the person sitting next to me wake up from their daze to say, "Oh, mozzarella sticks? Right here."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Why are you posting your X-Men review so soon, Chris?  Yeah, yeah...anyway.  The Wife and I saw this opening weekend and were both blown away by it.  I loved the original movies in the X series (YES, even The Last Stand) but wasn't really excited when I heard they were making X-Men: First Class.

I understand the movie studio wants to keep the franchise going and in fact, have a need to keep the franchise going.  Basically when Marvel started getting into the movie business, they signed away certain rights to the studios and the studios have to use the characters rights or else they lapse back to Marvel.  Hence why you have a Spider-Man movie coming out next year, a Daredevil movie in the works and a Fantastic Four reboot coming down the pipeline.

Anyway, I thought this film was really strong overall.  I loved the backstory and history between Xavier and Magneto...I think it could almost be considered a Magneto movie in a sense.  My least favorite part of the movie is when all of the X-kids get together and start showing off their powers.  I guess that is what would likely happen - it just seemed a little cheesy and an excuse for the movie to show the viewer what each character can do.

I loved the surprise cameos in the film and I came away from it all becoming a really big fan of Magneto.  You really start to sympathize with the guy and the reasons why he sees the world the way he does.  Will definitely buy this one on DVD when it comes out and am looking forward to future installments of the X franchise if they can pull off something like this again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hollywood Bowl

I know I am in the incredible minority, but am I the only one that thinks the Hollywood Bowl sucks?  I've always seen it as something of a pretentious music venue (until earlier this week when Motley Crue and Poison played there).

The only thing I like about the Bowl is that the parking situation is organized and efficient, if you park at the Park N' Ride on Ventura Blvd. and take the shuttle bus over.  It saves a lot of traffic and hassle and is remarkably well run.  As for what I don't like about the Bowl - the ridiculously uncomfortable wooden benches, the size of the venue (it always feels like I'm closer to my house than to the stage) and most importantly, the fact that everyone seems to love the Hollywood Bowl and talk about its amazing sound.

Sorry, HB.  I've seen you 4-5 times, and I still don't love you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


My brother and I went to check out the Poison and Motley Crue concert at the Hollywood Bowl last night.  I had seen Poison twice before back in 2008 and really enjoy them as a live band.  They're a high energy band and a lot of fun to watch, and they're still the same 3 years later.  I wouldn't expect or want them to be anything else.  They had a rather short set list, partly because they were opening up and I also think the Hollywood Bowl has a curfew.

Motley Crue was a band my brother and I have wanted to see since probably high school.  I'm glad we got a chance to see them, although I don't know that I was blown away by their performance.  They had two female dancers that would saunter around stage and sing backup on some of the songs.  Vince Neil also glossed over a lot of the lyrics and just kind of slurred his way through the melody.  Musically, the band was great but Vince seemed a little off the mark.

There was a surprise when Vince started singing Cee Lo-Green's "Fuck You" in the middle of "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" and then Cee-Lo came out to join him onstage for that, and for the rest of the song.  Overall a very fun night with my bro.  I'm glad I got to see Motley and hopefully Poison keeps touring for many more years to come.

Here's a recap of the setlists --

Look What the Cat Dragged In
Ride the Wind
We're an American Band
Fallen Angel
Unskinny Bop
Drum solo
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Guitar solo
Your Mama Don't Dance
Talk Dirty to Me
Nothin' But a Good Time

Wild Side
Saints of Los Angeles
Live Wire
Shout at the Devil
Same Ol' Situation
Primal Scream
Home Sweet Home
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) w/ Cee Lo
Drum solo
Looks That Kill
Dr. Feelgood
Too Young to Fall in Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Smokin' in the Boys Room
Kickstart My Heart