If you’ve been following the platinum tier of first world issues that have beleaguered our little island, you may have caught the mini beef news cycle – the price of it and how beef tenderloin is now off the charts. menu at some of the best restaurants in the country.
What you might not know is that three gauchos came to town, threw a cowhide on the ground, set up a churrasqueira (a Brazilian charcoal grill) and opened the doors to their rodízio, Bah33º, two years ago. Okay, points deducted for bad timing, but immediately doubled for what they’re up to. There’s enough steak for two Rio medalists to pull like a dog to get here.
A rodízio, in case you don’t know, is a beef version of The Frying Dutchman, the Springfield seafood restaurant that was on the verge of bankruptcy after Homer Simpson tested its promise. all you can eat”. Except — and I like to think this rather gorgeous episode of The Simpsons was a key learning curve as they saddled up to leave Rio Grande do Sul — the Gaucho Rodízio, at a fixed price of €49.90 per person, is limited to two hours insert.
I had planned to come with Dee Laffan, a food writer friend who is editor-in-chief of Scoop (watch out for the first issue in October) and her Brazilian husband, a fan of the restaurant. But it’s tied to a big event, so we walk through the door not knowing what to expect. We are greeted by a black-booted gaucho, ushered past the bar and a large, shiny buffet with four hot plates and endless salads, and get an overview of the format. Grilled meat – beef, chicken, lamb and pork – will be brought to the table as soon as it comes off the grill, it will be a constant flow, and if we need to take a break, we should turn the token on our table from green to red.
Beers are ordered, it’s a fairly limited choice so Hop House 13 (€6.20) is suitably refreshing, and we take it easy on the pedestrian salads, quickly deciding our appetites need to be preserved for the charred bits of meat , though a concession room is allocated for the savory feijoada (black bean stew).
The action kicks off at a frantic pace, with gauchos parading flat skewers of grilled meat around the room. Black scorched by the flames, the alcatra (rump eye), quickly reveals a rare and juicy interior as the skewer is held upright at the table and the meat is sliced with a sword-sized knife. We use our little metal tongs to take the thin slices off the skewer, eat them with chimichurri, or sprinkle them with arofa, a crispy crumb of toasted cassava flour.
Some of the gauchos, I discover, have limited English, and my constant questions about the exact cut we were eating leads to a bit of bewilderment. But I can tell you that the vazio, the thin flank, is particularly good, with the perfect level of char, meat and texture, as is the picanha, the prized rump.
Chicken hearts are threaded, about 40 per skewer, and chicken wings and sausages all do the trick. You’ll need a break, I assure you, because the churrasco is piling up on your plate.
A glass of Malbec (€8.50) is a must, and we start again, this time eating leg of lamb. The impressively sizzling pork belly is served on a wooden cart, as are the 12-hour grilled beef ribs. The grilled pineapple, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, is a welcome break from the bloated protein as we consider ordering the Gaucho dessert trio (€5.50), which we of course do. Ambrosia is a curdled dulce de leche made with milk, sugar, cinnamon and eggs, tastes so much better than it looks, a second bowl is rice pudding and the third is sago in red wine with the taste of mulled wine.
Bah33º is a place to visit when you’re not just starving, but actually starving, and your vegan friends are on vacation. A bunch of carnivores will have fun doing him justice, though he’s unlikely to cross Homer Simpson’s finish line at will. You might not want to watch meat for a few days, but at least Lionel Hutz doesn’t need to be on speed dial.
Dinner for two with two beers and a glass of wine was €126.20.
THE VERDICT All-you-can-eat Irish steak with a Brazilian touch
Facilities Smart, modern and spacious
Music Brazilian, without going the whole Strictly
Food origin John Stone, Newbridge Meats, (chicken and pork are not free range), Caterway
Vegetarian options Gaucho vegetarian mini meal at €34.90, also suitable for vegans
Wheelchair access Accessible, with accessible washrooms