If you’ve been keeping up with the platinum tier of first-world problems that have besieged our little island, you may have caught the mini news cycle on beef — the price of it and how fillet steak is now off the menu in some of the country’s top restaurants.
What you may not know, is that three gauchos rode into town, threw a cowhide on the floor, installed a churrasqueira (a Brazilian charcoal burning grill), and flung open the doors of their rodízio, Bah33º, two years ago. Okay, points deducted for unfortunate timing, but immediately doubled for what they’re rustling up. There’s enough steak to have two Rio medallists pulling like a dog to get here.
A rodízio, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a bovine version of The Frying Dutchman, the seafood restaurant in Springfield which was close to bankruptcy after Homer Simpson put their “all you can eat” promise to the test. Except — and I would like to think that this rather magnificent episode of the Simpsons was key learning as they saddled up to leave Rio Grande do Sul — the Gaucho Rodízio, at a fixed price of €49.90 per person, is confined to a two hour slot.
I had planned to come with Dee Laffan, a food writer pal who is the editor of Scoop (watch out for the first issue in October) and her Brazilian husband, who is a fan of the restaurant. But she is tied up with a big event, so we walk through the door with little idea of what to expect. We are greeted by a black booted gaucho, guided past the bar and a big shiny buffet with four hotplates and endless salads, and get a rundown on the format. Barbecued meat — beef, chicken, lamb and pork — will be brought to the table as it comes off the grill, it will be a constant stream, 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 selection so Hop House 13 (€6.20) is suitably refreshing, and we go easy on the pedestrian salads, quickly deciding that our appetite should be preserved for the charred hunks of meat, although concessionary room is allocated for the tasty feijoada (black bean stew).
The action kicks off at a furious pace, with gauchos parading flat skewers of barbecued meat around the room. Scorched black from the flames, the alcatra (eye of rump), quickly reveals a rare, juicy interior as the skewer is held vertically at the table and the meat is sliced with a sword-sized knife. We use our small metal tongs to take the thin slices from the skewer, eat them with chimichurri, or dust them with arofa, a crunchy crumb of toasted manioc flour.
Some of the gauchos, I discover, have limited English, and my constant enquiries about the exact cut we were eating results in a bit of puzzlement. But I can tell you that the vazio, the thin flank, is particularly good, with a perfect level of char, meatiness and texture, as is the picanha, the prized rump cap.
Chicken hearts are threaded, about 40 to a skewer, and chicken wings and sausages all do the rounds. You will need a break, let me assure you, as the churrasco piles up on your plate.
A glass of Malbec (€8.50) is called for, and we’re back at it again, this time eating lamb leg. Pork belly with impressive crackling is served from a wooden trolley, as are the 12-hour barbecued beef ribs. Grilled pineapple, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, is a welcome break from the blistered protein as we contemplate ordering the Gaucho dessert trio (€5.50), which of course we do. Ambrosia is a curdled dulce de leche made with milk, sugar, cinnamon and eggs, tasting so much better than it sounds, a second bowl has rice pudding, and the third is red wine sago which tastes of mulled wine.
Bah33º is a place to visit when you’re not just hungry, but actually starving, and your vegan pals are on holiday. A group of carnivores will have fun doing it justice, although are unlikely to waddle past the Homer Simpson all-you-can-eat finish line. You may not want to look at meat for a few days, but at least there’s no need to have Lionel Hutz 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 flare
Facilities Smart, modern and spacious
Music Brazilian, without going the whole Strictly
Food provenance John Stone, Newbridge Meats, (chicken and pork are not free-range), Caterway
Vegetarian options Mini Gaucho veggie meal for €34.90, also suitable for vegans
Wheelchair access Accessible, with accessible toilet