Yohan, Grade 7
All you can eat type restaurants are not normally classy but have a low class, “don’t wanna be seen here” type attached to them. Though add into the mix a Brazilian theme, world class meats, unique concepts plus a rustic atmosphere and you have a restaurant that has taken all you can eat to whole new level. The love of meat can break down any divide
Fogo Gaucho started off as just another new Nairobi restaurant. This restaurant went off to a struggling start due to discouraging critics, bad publicity and competition from Carnivore in Langata. Now the restaurant has picked up, it’s packed almost every night (including Mondays). The owner of this place is defiantly having the last laugh.
Located at Viking House off Waiyaki Way in Westlands Nairobi, Fogo Gaucho is located in a commercial and residential neighbourhood close to Nairobi’s CBD. The restaurant is in a secure neighbourhood with plenty of trees around. Though don’t expect much from the view outside your window as its either a parking lot or another wall. Many people are wary of their cars in Nairobi but don’t worry there is a security guard watching one of your biggest expenses.
The serene environment, rustic décor, the classic chit-chat of a restaurant together with the subtle Brazilian music offered an unforgettable ambience. I have never seen minimalist décor to this effect, potted plants spaced out throughout the room, vintage paintings reflecting the restaurants and a salad bar centred around an unbelievable aquarium. It was surreal the way the elements came together.
The intoxicating aroma of meat has never been so enticing. The aroma begins to torture you from the minute you walk through the door. While you are at your seat and the waiter explains the way the restaurant works, one finds their gaze following the waiters who are walking around with the meat. About 20 different exquisite salads are found at the salad bar, I think I forgot to mention that they are unlimited. The medley of cous cous, mint, basil and lemon which made up the Mediterranean salad was an indelible memory. The various dressings and sauces that were on offer could have made any chef of any five star restaurant jealous due to the fact that they were made to unarguable perfection. The Chef must have spent plenty of time to create this set of delectable salads and glazes. Though don’t pile too much salad on your plate as you won’t have enough space for the meat (trust me).
At Fogo Gaucho there is a red/green card, red meaning please stop adding me meat and green meaning keep piling it on my plate. This was a very unique concept which I have never experienced in my recent life. The restaurant is based on Rodizio type of restaurant where the waiters walk around with meat; Fogo Gaucho is only the second restaurant in Nairobi to do this. The waiter’s uniforms are very unique as they reflect the theme of the restaurant while at the same time providing comfort to the waiters themselves, the waiters dressed as Brazillian ranchers adds to the feeling that you’ve been catapulted to a restaurant in Southern Brazil.
Meat is something that can be cooked wrong, or cooked right, it will either taste bad or good nothing in the middle. This restaurant has hit the nail right on the head when it comes to everything meat. After piling my plate with salad the waiters came around with the meat on giant skewers, I immediately lifted my plate to the side and watched as the waiter expertly cut the garlic beef off the skewer. As I took the first bite I think I had my first taste of heaven, the crunch on the outside coupled with the slight tang of garlic, followed by an explosion of meat juices in my mouth AMAZING! The waiters then came around with pork and beef sausages, prawns, beef ribs and pork ribs. The prawns looked extremely fresh, one could see that they were quickly grilled and drizzled with olive oil. Such simplicity yet when done expertly can prove to me that even in food ‘less is more’ and that was the case at Fogo Gaucho. The sausages were an explosion of meat juices in your mouth after the crunch of the skin, the pork ribs were tender and had the distinctive pork aroma. The beef ribs were unappetising, as they lacked flavour, they were mushy, salty, odourless, and if safe to say noxious.
Fogo Gaucho offers unparalleled service to its guests. There are extremely friendly and one can tell they enjoy their job due to the fact that they walk around with a smile. The chefs came around to check on us and he talked to us in a cheery voice. One cannot really judge on presentation but the speed at which the meat comes is phenomenal, they are extremely enthusiastic and they strike up a conversation too. They crack a few jokes here and there and comment on the food and the restaurant which is nice and I appreciate it. That truly their personality shining through (which is very rare for waiters in most restaurants). Though one of the waiters slapped a big chunk of unappetising beef ribs on my plate when my card was on red, this made me extremely disappointed though I believe this was a onetime thing. Their hello’s, goodbye’s and thank you’s really went a long way in making my visit memorable, one could tell that they were being honest. Much unlike some restaurants where greetings are dull and meaningless. A way I like to judge the service of a restaurant is how long my empty glass stays on the table, this time round it was on for a record 5 minutes (it normally averages around 10-13 minutes).
Overall I would rate the restaurant 9/10 due to excellent service, an exceptional atmosphere and unparalleled food. The minus would be for the waiter slapping beef ribs on my plate when I didn’t want any. I would fully recommend this restaurant no questions asked.