For us carnivores, Fazenda is the stuff of dreams – a never-ending supply of mouth-watering meat, a dazzling décor, and waiters who are wonderfully flirty. Which is why “lunch” lasted around five-and-a-half hours.
Our story begins on a grey, grey Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh. Winter was now in its eleventh month, and it was only the opening of a new restaurant on George Street that gave us the strength to carry on.
Even so, we had no idea of the joy we were about to experience …
Fazenda is an upmarket chain that utterly reinvents the notion of all you can eat. It brings to the table – quite literally – the Brazillian tradition of churrasco barbecue, where the meat is lovingly cooked and served on the spit.
We were there to dine with our good friends “Bernard” and “Suzy.”
[ Note: Not their real names. Embarrassed by the unadulterated greed this review is about to depict, they desperately wish to remain anonymous. ]
Like us, Bernard & Suzy had arrived with stomachs empty, so we promptly ordered the perfect substitute for breakfast: a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
What seemed like moments later, the bottle was empty, so we moved on to a Brazilian pinot grigio / riesling. Wonderfully zesty, and just £27 a bottle, we eventually ordered many, many more.
But a few sips into the first, our waitress took the opportunity to point out (in a caring and sharing way), that we might also like to try the food while we were here.
Brazilian barbecue, it works like so …
At just £19.50 for lunch, or £32.50 for dinner, your meal begins with a visit to the gourmet sides bar. Here you’re greeted by a vast selection of imaginative and delicious salads, spicy vegetables, cured meats, and continental cheeses.
Despite the obvious temptation to eat for Britain, it pays to exercise a little restraint, as soon you’ll be repeatedly seduced by the pleasures of medium rare flesh.
Return to your table, and you’ll discover another novelty of dining at Fazenda: a double-sided card, where RED means you’d like a rest, while GREEN signifies your desire to eat a shedload of meat.
Excitedly, the four of us turned our cards to green, and toasted our journey of indulgence with yet another glass (well, okay, bottle) of wine.
Seconds later we met Hugo – lovely Hugo – an exceedingly friendly young waiter, who wasted no time in asking us to try his spicy pork sausage.
Known as Linguica gaucha, this simple dish was enough to convince us this restaurant was about to become one of our favourites.
“Oh my …” Bernard moaned.
“Oh god …” Suzy whispered, as her eyes rolled back.
“That tastes f**king amazing!” we said, possibly a little too loudly.
Hugo smiled, and flirtatiously raised an eyebrow, as if to say “this, my impossibly greedy friends, is merely the beginning …”
And indeed he was right, as miraculously each meat selection that followed seemed to be better than the last.
Soon we were enjoying the Picanha: cap of rump, which as promised on the menu is most definitely delicate, juicy and full of flavour.
Hot on its heels, the melt-in-your-mouth Sobrecoxa de franco: marinated chicken thighs. So, so succulent.
Next came the Barriga de porco: sliced pork belly, with honey and cinnamon sauce – encouraging yet another collective moan of pleasure from our table.
Then we were further delighted by the Presunto com abacaxi: roasted, smoked gammon with pineapple. An unbeatable combination that somehow cleanses the pallet and allows you to eat even more meat.
Can it possibly get any better, we wondered. The answer of course is yes.
Moments later, Hugo – lovely Hugo – returned with the Tritip: bottom sirloin, which looks, smells, and most importantly tastes incredible.
He then used his own body to demonstrate which part of cow we were about to rampantly devour. Admiring his inventive approach, we all opted for triple-helpings.
Once in our fourth hour of lunch, the time felt right for a micro-pause. But no sooner had we turned our cards to red, when Hugo returned with the Cordeiro: grilled lamb, brushed with mint sauce.
Instead of using words, he simply raised an eyebrow and tilted his head towards his impressive skewer of meat. Instantly we turned our cards back to green.
And oh … my … god … this was the best dish yet.
Satiated, but set to burst, we attempted to turn our cards to red at least six more times …
But on each occasion Hugo would return with even more meat, and somehow we were powerless to resist.
Finally we realised the only way to avoid eating ourselves to death, was to – ironically enough – move on to the dessert menu. Though once again we were overwhelmed by choice.
Fortunately, the Brazilian sweet treats offers five different takes on delicious, everything from lime & cachaca cheesecake to chocolate truffle.
But the real stand out is Fazenda’s signature dish – Marquise de chocolate – a rich chocolate base topped with Argentine toffee and whipped cream.
Despite the fact the very act of eating was now causing us physical pain, this luscious dessert is impossible to resist. Still, it was a perfect conclusion to our fabulously decadent lunch – now well into its sixth hour.
Needless to say, we loved every bite (of which there were many), and we’ve already booked our next Saturday “lunch.”
Our sincere thanks to Fazenda, and of course Hugo – lovely Hugo.
Reviewed March 2018
102 George Street
0131 215 1234