Get a Brazilian
Flame & Fire
Roseville, CA 95678
We’re not sure if buffet dining is actually popular in Brazil, but Brazilian food in the United States is often served in the context of an all-you-can-eat style of service called rodizio. One popular place to find rodizio in the states is at a churrascaria, basically a Brazilian barbecue joint. Put the two concepts together, and what you get is a fancy Brazilian barbecue buffet. That’s a simple way to describe Roseville’s Flame & Fire, where for $45 (or $25 for lunch), you can get all the meat you can eat, plus an unlimited salad bar (a salad-bar-only option costs $29 for dinner, or $19 for lunch) and a few other hot food items.
On a recent weeknight, a server promptly sat us at white-clothed table, and a waiter took drink orders (a red table wine, and a ginger ale-esque Brazilian soda called Guaranaacute; Antarctica). She also handed us cardboard tokens with the words “yes, please” printed on one side and “no, thanks” on the other. These signal for roaming servers (dressed as gauchos—kind of like Brazil’s cowboys) to come around with spits of meat and slice pieces onto our plates, she explained.
First, we made a visit to an impressively diverse salad bar featuring leafy green salad, broccoli salad, pasta salad, fruit salad and potato salad—plus olives, cheese, sliced deli meat and a few other rotating items. Nearby, a few other hot food items sat in buffet trays: feijoada, a Brazilian black bean and pork stew, and a version of beef stroganoff. Made with what tasted like coconut milk, the stroganoff was the more flavorful of the two—almost resembling the flavor profile of a Southeast Asian tom kha stew. Tip: kick up the feijoada with farofa, a dry flour-based seasoning mixture that adds flavor and texture.
When we returned to our table, we found a pile of warm foccacia bread and plate of fried plantains—delicious but dangerous for our appetites, considering we hadn’t even sampled any of the barbecue yet.
We flipped our tokens to “yes, please” and the onslaught of gauchos and meat began. Various servers told us which meats were their favorites, which was helpful because 12 types were paraded by our table that night: sausage, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken, picanha (top sirloin), fraldinha (bottom sirloin), garlic picanha, lamb chops, tri-tip, Parmesan pork and Parmesan chicken.
The quality of most meats was incredibly high, with the fraldinha and the tri-tip among the juiciest and most flavorful. Unfortunately, the Parmesan pork and chicken came out overcooked and dry. Strangely, the bacon-wrapped chicken was more tender than the bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
After all that meat, slices of cinnamon-glazed pineapple on a spit was all the dessert we could handle. A few weeks later, however, we returned to try the lunch menu. The selection is slightly smaller than the dinner one (with approximately eight meats offered instead of a dozen), but we did get to try one that wasn’t available on the first visit: a perfectly cooked pork tenderloin that oozed flavor. We also sampled a tasty caipirinha with an intensely refreshing lime flavor. And for dessert (there was room this time) we ordered “papaya cream”—basically fresh papaya blended into ice cream. Service remained just as efficient and friendly.
With its cornucopia of options, Flame & Fire is a nice introduction to Brazilian food. Even though it’s all-you-can-eat, the quality shines through. It’s mostly meat and veggies, so you won’t feel gross after eating a lot. And the experience of paying so much for a buffet (and having costumed servers come to your table) makes eating here seem like a vacation—even if it’s a little more Las Vegas than São Paulo.