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Meat (and Fish) Fest, Brazilian Style by Chris Becicka

This weekend we went to Em Chamas Brazilian Grill off 64th Street in the Northland.  Or land of the north.  As Johnson Countians, heading nearly to the airport seemed like a lengthy jaunt.  “This better be worth it,” grumbled frequent flyer Rick from the back seat.  Let’s see, I said, we’ve come to pick you up, we’re paying for it, we’re bringing you home, and you’re say
ing, “It better be worth it.”  Uh huh.

There were families by the fire outside the restaurant and you could see the skaters from the inside.  Em Chamas is in the “Village at Burlington Creek,” in what seems like a rapidly expanding mixed use development.  The restaurant is attractive and lit well enough to see the food but still seems cozy – and it was busy, perhaps because as the first Friday of Lent, people knew there would be numerous fish specials in addition to the regular (huge) array of all kinds of meats.  And for the regular price of less than $40.

You probably already know that Em Chamas is a churrascaria, a Brazilian innovation where beef, pork, lamb, and chicken are served table-side, called “rodizio” (to rotate, which both the meat and the servers do) continuously. Attractive young men called passadors or gauchos with big skewers of meat and very large, very sharp knives come around to serve you. You help them with the tongs that are at your place along with the silverware and napkins.
First, though, you serve yourself at a very nice buffet set-up which has hot and cold items.  For Lent, it also includes steamed mussels and clams, a calamari and shrimp medley, seafood stew and pasta – all tasty.  Lenten shrimp comes along on those large skewers, frequently enough to satisfy the hungriest shrimp lover.  So does swordfish according to the website, but I didn’t see that – which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  They have a system of you turn over silver-dollar-size discs to tell the gauchos whether to stop or not at your plate.  They were unfailingly polite and attentive.  People would take away your plate and have you another for you immediately, whenever you wished. 

We ate a LOT here, with lots of conversation and wine. Our waitress was very pleasant and the person she was training was nice and humorous too.  Most importantly, the meats were phenomenal. There were 14 to try and I think we hit almost all of them, skipping the chicken – it was all about red meat for us (and some shrimp and some trial portions of the fish dishes).  I love the idea of not having to make a total choice commitment – and figuring out what you like the very best.  For me, I think it was the picanha, a special Brazilian cut which after I read about it, it was clear why I liked it.  I won’t go into detail other than write the word, fat, which melts into the meat.
There were several others we all loved, and the portion size, which is small each time, lets you try many items and then come back to the ones you like the best. What a great idea.

I fear we managed to stretch this dinner into four delicious hours, including a nice chocolate dessert that hit the spot, hours that Rick admitted were “definitely worth it.”  So we’re going back soon – this time Rick has said he’ll drive.

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6101 NW 63rd Terrace,
Kansas City, MO 64151
 Located in The Village at Burlington Creek
 Em Chamas Brazilian Grill on Urbanspoon

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