Monday, April 9, 2018

Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse – Tampa, Florida

Last night we had the privilege of previewing the brand-new Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse on South Dale Mabry in Tampa before it officially opens on tomorrow.

We were sad when GrillSmith closed in that location awhile back because I love their pumpkin crab bisque (luckily, they are moving into the old Grille One Sixteen location further up the road just north of Kennedy…) 

Terra Gaucha has run a successful restaurant in Jacksonville since 2015. They worked with BDG Architects to convert the previous Grillsmith location into an elegant new space that is now fit for the churrascaria style dining experience. This culinary style originated with the South American cowboys, or “gaúchos,” who grilled meats over an open flame.

I’ve been lucky getting to preview the transformation of the restaurant since I work for the architect. Our interior design team did an amazing job (you can read more about the design concept here). I love the beautiful wine display at the entrance as well as the custom sculpture and painting by artist Marc De Waele.

We had never visited a Brazilian steakhouse before, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. For dinner, restaurant patrons have the option for either a gourmet salad and hot bar or the “full rodizio experience” which includes the salad bar as well as unlimited access to over a dozen varieties of meats cut tableside. We were invited to be part of the “friends and family” night to sample the menu, so our meals were complimentary (minus the drinks…)

They have a diverse wine menu, but we tried their cocktails instead. Lance had the caipirinha, made with cachaça (a Brazilian rum), sugar, and lime. I had the same but with muddled pineapple and mint, which I’d definitely order again.

As we were seated, we were served cheesey puffs of bread along with caramelized bananas. The bread was good but I wanted to keep room for all the food to follow. However, we did devour the bananas (they brought us another plate of them after we cleaned the first plate).

When I heard they had a salad bar, I pictured it being more like a Sweet Tomatoes, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. They had a few meats and cheeses (including an enormous wheel of parmesan), grilled pineapple, roasted garlic, soups, salads, and more.

Once we had our fill of that, we flipped over a card to signify that we were ready for the servers to bring us meat. It seems that the second we flipped it over, we had half a dozen people dashing our way to serve us. We almost had to flip the cards over as soon as we turned them to green because otherwise we’d never have the opportunity to try the meats they cut for us. 

My favorite of the meats was the Porco Com Parmesao (pork tenderloin encrusted with Parmesan cheese). It is soaked in white wine and herbs before being roasted and coasted in cheese. I also enjoyed the smoky Linguiça (Brazilian sausage) and the Picanha (their house specialty premium sirloin). The rest came by so quickly I could barely keep track of what I was sampling. You can see the variety of meats here (we thought it was funny that the “gauchos” were labeled the same as the meats on the menu…hopefully they weren’t turning us into cannibals!) 

Our waiter, Dennis, was extremely welcoming and attentive. He asked for our feedback on the drinks and dishes, which was all positive on our end. I would have loved to have tried one of their desserts, but we were beyond full at the end of our meal. 

While we really enjoyed ourselves, we’d have to save this for a special occasion because it is pricier than we’d spend on a typical date night. Plus, as much as I enjoyed the food, I just don’t eat enough to make any all-you-can-eat establishment worth it. Lance already said he wants to come back for his birthday though because for him, the more meat the better. I wish there was a way to visit and enjoy the salad bar with a smaller sampling of the meats rather than the unlimited option.

Happy to have another new restaurant concept in town and we wish them the best!

Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse is located at 1108 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33629.  They are open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30am – 2pm and Saturday/Sunday from 11:30am – 3pm. For dinner, they are open from 5 – 10pm Monday through Friday, 4 – 10:30pm on Saturday, and 4 – 9pm on Sunday.

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