Monday, November 12, 2007

Brazilian steakhouses: Brasa and Chamas

On Saturday I took my dive buddy to lunch for his birthday. He chose Brasa, the Brazilian steakhouse in Briar Creek. For those of you who have not been to one of these so-called Brazilian steakhouses, they are basically heaven for red-meat carnivores. Chicken and fish might appear on the extensive salad bar, but that's about it. Everything else is red, bleeding meat brought to the table on giant spears. They don't have menus. At Brasa there are three levels: $10 for the salad bar only, $18 for salad bar plus 5 types of meat, $23 for salad bar plus 9 types of meat.

Now, I'm as much of a carnivore as the next girl, but I am not such a fan of these places. I'd much rather have one steak that is done perfectly than all-you-can-eat piles of flesh. Might be a good place for people doing South Beach though, except all of the meat at Brasa was really fatty. I love a nicely marbled steak but I don't really want to see it dripping puddles of grease.

Chamas, at Brightleaf Square in Durham, offers higher quality meats that taste a lot better and don't have as much fat dripping off of them. Chamas also serves these yummy, cheesy popovers. Another good thing about Chamas is that they are easy to work with for event planning. I believe Chamas is locally owned, although I could be mistaken.

We had a good time at Brasa, but we were underwhelmed by the quality of food for the price of it. The best thing we had was yellow rice and black beans which my dive buddy does superbly in his own kitchen for a couple of bucks.

So the next time you want to please a meat and potatoes kind of person who does not like "frou frou food" as my dive buddy would say, take them to Chamas. But be warned, it will leave your wallet a lot lighter. For dinner the fixed menus is around $30/person. For the price, you could go to Rue Cler and order two steaks frites.


Phil said...

Yep, Chamas is locally owned. The owners -- Rosana and Raquel -- are from Brazil. They also own Amelia's and Piazza Italia. They like food. (I asked, "what's the connection between Brazil and an Italian restaurant?" Rosana said, "we like Italian food, too!"

Speaking of dietaries: the cheese rolls are gluten free. If I recall correctly, they're made with yucca flour and parmesan.

toastie said...

Thanks for writing this comparison up. I was just trying to explain to someone why I liked Chamas much better. A Brazilian steakhouse is basically a once-a-year type meal for me, and I went to Chamas on my birthday two years ago and then Brasa last year, because I was moving out of Raleigh back to Durham and wanted to see what I was missing in historic Brier Creek. :D I don't like to gorge myself with meat for three hours, so I found the food bar at Chamas to be wonderful before the onslaught of meat skewers. By comparison, the Brasa food bar was lacking. I don't recall the specifics, so I'm glad that you did. There's supposed to be a good Brazilian steakhouse in Cary, but it's tough for me to build up such a carnivorous appetite!

Tim said...

My wife and I visited Chamas this Sunday 8-Mar-2009 and were surprised by the food quality and the owner's response to our comments. We were served some of the worst meat we have ever had at a restaurant. The meat was tough, fatty, and overcooked. We received bacon wrapped filet-mignon that was grayish-black and tasted worse than stew beef.

Even after seeing the grayish-black "filet", the owner refused to accept that anything was wrong. She stated, "we have people that come every weekend that like the filet cooked this way." We were skeptical given the number of empty tables despite the 50% off coupon good for the day.

With the coupon we still spent $50 for the worst meal we have had in a year.