An excited crowd was on hand when Brasilia Churrasco Steakhouse opened its doors in Asheville on Thursday, March 20.
Guests were ushered to tables appointed with linen tablecloths and beautiful glasses and flatware. The huge open space, made more inviting with walls of windows looking out to the street, still somehow felt intimate—perhaps because of the little nooks created by table groupings or the soft lighting.
Central to the room was the 25-item buffet salad bar, the first stop for many guests once drinks were ordered. Brasilia Churrasco’s full bar includes Biltmore wines and two Brazilian beers among their many selections. Their specialty drinks is the Caipirinha; a traditional Brazilian cocktail made with cachaca (like rum, cachaca is an alcoholic beverage derived from sugarcane).
The buffet offered many high-end choices such as hearts of palm, artichoke, smoked salmon with capers and shrimp. Everything looked fresh and tempting. The buffet area was well-managed and clean. There were several hot items that could either serve to complement the restaurant’s featured meats or to make a filling vegetarian meal, such as fluffy, Brazilian rice and savory black beans. The hearty house-made mashed potatoes were accompanied by a mushroom gravy that was incredibly flavorful and light in consistency — perhaps sauce is a more accurate descriptive. The chicken salad was basically to die for. One could easily make a satisfying meal of the salad bar alone.
But if you are a meat lover, you definitely do not want to miss the parade of scrumptious meats brought out at customer’s request by the servers, known as gauchos. Each gaucho brought out a different selection, including alcatra (top sirloin), ribeye, filet minion, chicken drumsticks, costela de porco (pork ribs) and Brazilian sausages such as linguica. The house specialty is picanha, a prime cut of sirloin. Customers can sample as many choices and servings as they desire.
Surprisingly, most of the meats are seasoned only with sea salt; all were grilled to perfection.The gauchos displayed the meats tableside and customers used little tongs to grab their piece as it was sliced right off the skewer. One surprisingly tasty grill item was the abacaxi (cinnamon pineapple), an excellent finish to any meal, although a selection of desserts was available as well.
The atmosphere was fun and customers naturally chatted with each other as they moved about the room; it was as if we were all at a big wedding or party together. The large private party room still feels connected to the main area and also has huge windows, which add spaciousness.
The wait staff was friendly and impeccable. Owner Shutao Wang was hands-on and seemed pleased at the turn out as he bustled about the room. It was impossible to offer suggestions for improvement, although he was open to them.
Located directly across the street from Asheville Community Theatre, Brasilia Churrasco would be a great choice for dinner before attending a play or performance downtown. According to Wang, 90 percent of the offerings are gluten-free, so with its variety of vegetarian choices as well as being a meat lover’s dream, Brasilia Churrasco is an especially good bet for groups with different tastes and dietary restrictions.
Brasilia Churrasco Steakhouse is at 26 E. Walnut St. Hours: Monday-Thursday 5-10:30 p.m., Friday 5 p.m-?, Saturday 4 p.m.-?, Sunday 4-9 p.m. and for lunch Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
PHOTO: Brasilia Churrasco owner Shutao Wang, left, and gaucho Dalmo Silva