Tonight for our wedding anniversary my wife and tried the new churrascaria Amor Fiery Steakhouse de Brazil at 119th and Metcalf. This was my wife’s choice (as I do not eat meat), however, I went in anticipation of their 50 item salad bar.
For those who have not yet been to a churrascaria, let me explain what the restaurant is. First, you have the aforementioned massive salad bar offering salads (portabella salad, Brazilian potato salad with granny smith apples, and chicken salad with what looked to be curry), cheeses (blue and aged Parmesan), ahi tuna, shrimp, salmon mousse, bread, and other goodies lined the bar. Once you have gotten your salad, gauchos walk by carrying slabs of prepared meat: lamb, ribs, sirloin, prime rib, garlic beef, pork tenderloin, and other delicacies. You tell the gaucho you want a slice of meat and they oblige by slicing one off the slab (with you at the tongs) and you eat until stuffed silly.
The first thing that struck me about the restaurant was the air of luxury. The team of greeters dressed in black dresses or suits, the gauchos in their boots, golden gauchos, and fashionable shirts, and the wait staff in suits could have fit in any fine dining establishment (well…maybe not the gauchos, they were a little silly looking.) The fine silverware, the polished furnishings, the leather couches in the bar and waiting area, the wine list, featuring over 250 varieties, and the cocktail list also spoke to an elegant dining experience fit for any upscale restaurant. Still, they accepted my wife and I in jeans and a polo/T-shirt as quickly as the couples on dates dressed to impress.
The greeters were friendly and actually attentive as customers entered the premises. Once we settled in, the wait staff proved to be quite friendly (one waitor even kissed my wife for being a Jayhawk and no one seemed to be upset by the ravings of a fussy 21 month old.)
The good things I have to say about the restaurant end here, however.
Brazilian steakhouses are predicated on being big. Big selection, big wine list, big salad bar, big portions, etc. However, they were also big on the use of salt. Everyone in the party was dismayed to find that their meat was oversalted. This tendency to overseason carried over to the salad bar where the ahi was rolled in far too much pepper, the mousse was combined with far too much of something bitter and the mushroom bisque had far too much cognac.
Even worse the gauchos disappeared for great lengths of time. Whereas there appeared to be at least 8 servers, I counted only three gauchos for the entire establishment which meant we were waiting for long periods of time with empty plates. This is in sharp contrast to Kansas City’s other Churrascaria Em Chamas where the gauchos and wait staff have to be beaten back with sticks lest they be too helpful.
Even worse, the check was also excessive. For a salad bar, a meal with meat, a tea, and a caipirnha (a vodka cocktail like a mojito without mint) the bill was near $100 before tip. I would not mind to pay that price if a) any one in the party had enjoyed their meal and b) Em Chamas was not half the price including the gas to drive to the Northland.
All in all, I would not recommend going to Amor. I could have gone to McGonagles and ruined my own meat with too much salt for far less and still been able to watch the game. However, if you want the Brazilian churrascaria experience and do not want to drive to Parkville, check out Amor soon. Unless the kitchen can get some serious deficiencies smoothed out, it is not going to be there long.