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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

[Toronto] Copacabana Brazilian Steak House

Review Location:
150 Eglinton Ave E
Toronto, Ontario
(Major Intersection: Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave)
When I found out that I would be going to an all you can eat Brazilian BBQ for dinner one night, my carnivorous side got pretty excited. I don't know of too many places like this, but Copacabana is definitely the most well known Brazilian BBQ that I know of. Everyone who's been there had great things to rave about, so that just added to my anticipation. Bottomless meat for a fixed prix of $35? YES PLEASE!

To provide a foreshadow to this post, I honestly felt the environment was what took this restaurant experience out of the park. As a result I will probably spend quite some text describing the environment of the restaurant. I arrived a bit earlier than my reservation, and ended up waiting a bit. It was really hot inside the restaurant, probably from all the grilling and the wide open entrance to the patio where all the A/C seeped away. Not too big of a deal because I was nicely distracted by the belly dancing and martial arts performances that were on display for the dinner guests! The DJ was spinning non-stop heart pounding Brazilian music that synced with the fast flashing lights in the restaurant. I seriously felt like I was at some festive nightclub in Brazil. Around 8pm, the DJ packed up and the ambiance of the restaurant calmed down a bit. Instead, he was replaced by a duo performing live music. It had a more jazzy taste, and the one song that caught my ear was a jazz rendition of "Whatever You Like" by T.I. Don't know why, but it made a big impression in my memory. Nicely done!

 Copacabana restaurant front

Performances by belly dancers and martial artists

Left: the DJ, Right: Live music

Left: Cheese Bread, Right: Cornbread

I really enjoyed the cheese bread. Crunchy on the outside and very cheesy on the inside. The cornbread was pretty average to me, but I did have another friend who really enjoyed it and devoured the whole thing.

"Caiprinha" ($9.25) -The National Brazilian Drink: Cachaca, Muddled Limes and Sugar

I also ordered a drink while I was waiting. They had some interesting Brazilian branded beers, but I opted to order the Caipirinha which is the National drink of Brazil. It essentially tastes like a mojito with no mint. It may look like a tiny drink, but boy was it strong! Definitely should not have drank that on an empty stomach!

When all my friends finally got here, we prepared to start eating. The food is served rodizio style where several servers cycle around each table with spears of meat, and shave you pieces of it if you choose so. This meal wasn't very blog-friendly based on the way food was served, but I'll try my best!

Flank Steak served Rodizio style

Shaving of "Flank Steak"

This is how a piece of meat looks like after it's been shaved off for you. It's cooked on the outside, but inside is still quite rare. After the server cuts all of the outer layer, the spear of meat is taken back to the kitchen to marinate and re-cook the outer layer. Most of the steaks in general were very tender and nothing short of delicious. I did find that the seasoning was a bit too salty though.

Prime Rib with Cheese

Out of all the meats served, this one is probably my favourite. It has cubes of parmesan cheese injected into it, which melts as it's being cooked. The cheese was just oozing out of the meat as the server cut it. A must try!

Top Left: BBQ ribs, Top Right: Sauasges, Bottom Left: Spicy Chicken, Right: Pork Chop

To balance off the protein packed meal, there is a self serve buffet-style salad bar that they call "The Harvest Table" Here they serve mostly grains and vegetables. The Harvest Table is included in the fixed prix of the meal.

 Salad Bar at The Harvest Table

Pasta at the Harvest Table

To be honest I didn't have much from the salad bar. Aside from wanting to save appetite for the meat, I found it not too appetizing. There was good variety, but everything was very preserved with vinegar making it extremely sour. Not too many compliments from me here.

And last but not least : desserts!

 Rodizio style grilled pinapple 

The pinapple was by far my favourite. They actually serve this throughout the dinner service but it's good enough to be dessert! I was so stuffed at the end but persisted to have a couple more servings of it each time the server brought it around. It is grilled with a really tasty sweet cinnamon sprinkle, and I just couldn't stop!

Fried Bananas

Again, this is served throughout dinner service but not rodizio style. You just have to order it from the waitresses. Like the pineapple, the fried bananas were also coated in a sweet cinnamon sugar. What I really liked about this, was that it isn't battered before deep frying. As a result, it didn't feel as heavy as other deep fried bananas I've had. 

Overall it was a pretty memorable experience. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the environment. Aside from the meat being a tad too salty, wasn't bad at all. However, as you can see from the pictures that the meat servings weren't very big, so the dinner actually spanned over a long period of time. I actually question whether or not they serve each table equally because it definitely felt like the table next to us got food a lot more frequently than ours. Another peeve I developed midway during the dinner is that you don't have much input about what you eat. Whatever the server happens to have is what they would serve you. We ultimately ended up eating a lot of the same thing. Near the end of the night when the restaurant emptied out a bit, we were able to place requests of what we specifically wanted to eat more of. I guess that made up for it a bit.

On the other hand, I will commend that the service is amazing! The waitress we had really went out of her way to make our experience exceptional. She offered to bring some pastries to me while I waited for my table and for the rest of my friends to arrive. Our waitress in particular was also very happy and cheery the entire night despite the hot and hectic environment. I felt it really did make a big difference!

If you're looking for a different type of dining experience, live entertainment, and a place to satisfy your insatiable carnivorous tendencies, I would definitely recommend you try out Copacabana. I will also recommend you eat vegetarian the day after to balance it out...

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