|How Much Meat Can One Woman Eat?|
Jackie Lee steaks out Fulham's hot new Brazilian restaurant
When I was in my late teens I spent a month travelling back and forth from Fulham to attend the London Film Academy, learning how to be a young filmmaker.
Despite the fact that Fulham was only 15-20 minutes away, I knew little of it and what it had to offer in the way of food, other than Marks & Spencer ready-made salads or that one afternoon I spent with a friend on a Pimm's & nachos crawl (a particular low-point was at one pub where the nachos were topped with double cream).
Thankfully, since this time Fulham has grown and evolved, especially with its latest addition Rodizio Rico, a meat lover's paradise.
Though I've travelled extensively, Brazil is one location I've never made it to. A churrascaria, meaning 'steak house' or 'place where you eat barbecue', is apparently a common sight in Brazil.
The term rodizio refers to a style of restaurant service where the waiters rotate the tables with a variety of barbecued meats until the customers signify that they've had enough, often with a card on the table that's green on one side (go) and red on the other (stop). And how much will this meat-fest set you back? Not very much at all, as it's all at a fixed price.
Rodizio Rico is on, what my companion for the evening David (a friend I can always rely on to eat copious amounts of meat), referred to as: 'a paradise island' in the heart of Fulham. Indeed, though the restaurant is just up the road from Fulham Broadway, it somehow manages to feel peaceful without the busy traffic of the main road.
As I walked up the street the sun streamed down and hit the white canopy covering the outside seating area of Rodizio Rico. A girl by the door sipped a cocktail and David, waiting for my arrival, sat in the corner on a wicker chair drinking his beer and staring off into the distance like the quintessential lone cowboy.
We took our seats only to immediately relinquish them again as the first order of business was to load our plates from the side-dish trolley in the middle of the restaurant. I must admit, it did feel a little 'all you can eat buffet' to me, but I can understand why they operate this way, especially when busy.
The trolley hosted a variety of starches, vegetables and even a few meats, my favourite was the fried banana, a speciality of Brazil and completely delicious.
We sat again, our cards turned to green, and within minutes the meat started arriving. The meat glistened and sizzled as it approached our table, skewered upon a silver spike - my eyes fixed on it, my mouth watered. The waiter said something about lamb and I nodded, still watching the meat.
The world seemed to move in slow motion as he drew his knife and deftly carved a slice, the flesh falling away in a fan motion. David grasped the meat with the small tongs provided on our table and gently drew it onto his plate,and I following suit. The waiter disappeared and we took our first bite - sweet and smokey from the barbecue, tender and juicy; it was the perfect first meat.
I'd love to wax lyrical about the following offerings but I was in a bit of a meat daze. Thought initially a little slow to start, eventually the meat was pouring onto our plates faster than we could eat them - I'm ashamed to say I turned my card to red after only three or four servings.
David, however, ever the trooper, continued on through beef stuffed with blue cheese, pork tenderloin dripping with its own juices, beef rib with a golden side of fat and chicken legs, charred, moist and plump.
To go with the meaty goodness on our plates was a beautiful Brazilian wine, sharp enough to cut through the fat but velvety and comforting.
Finally we were all meat-ed out. "Man, I am so full of meat," David sighed, patting his belly and stretching languidly. "Me too," I mumbled through a mouthful of fried banana, fighting off the meat coma.
We finished off our meal with two desserts, shared between us: a fried pineapple ring with vanilla ice-cream and a creme caramel. Both were good but after so much meat it barely made an impact - we were just so stuffed.
This isn't exactly a restaurant for vegetarians, the Rodizio Rico manager informed us, but that's not to say that they won't accommodate your needs with unlimited vegetables grilled on the barbecue (for £18)... but honestly, if you don't eat meat, why bother? There are some amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants out there - I can even recommend some to you - but don't come here and torture yourself, because I can promise you: I will sit next to you, eating my meat with my hands, juice dripping down my chin, staring straight into your eyes with every bite.
The last of the wine drunk, the last of the meat (that we could handle) scoffed, it was time to head home. Would I return again? With the extremely decent fixed price (£23.50 for the prime-cut meats) and wonderful wines (from around £20), as well as the top-notch service, I definitely would, though not immediately - I needed a few weeks to work off the meat.
Rodizio Rico is at 11 Jerdan Place, Fulham Broadway, London SW6 1BE. There are 3 other Rodizio Rico locations at The O2, Islington and Westbourne Grove.
See the website for details, and to download a voucher entitling you to a 15% discount any night except Friday or Saturday.
March 29, 2013