Sherman's Food Adventures: Rio Brazilian Steakhouse

Rio Brazilian Steakhouse

Fresh off a visit to Fogo de Chão earlier this year in Bellevue, it got us craving for some Brazilian BBQ here in Vancity.  Now that isn't necessarily an easy task as there is only one place to get it - Rio Brazilian Steakhouse.  They have 2 locations, one in Downtown Vancouver and the other is in Coquitlam.  Yes, there used to be Samba (run by the Thai House Group), but they have long closed.  So we headed out to the Coquitlam Rio to see if anything has changed since the last time I visited the place (that was pre-covid and I didn't blog about it).

So the concept for this form of dining is that they put a card on the table that has a green side and a red side.  They will keep bringing over various BBQ meats if your card is green.  When you want to throw in the towel, you turn it to red.  But before even getting to the meats, you can help yourself to the Salad Bar, that also featured other dishes such as beans & rice, sauteed mushrooms and paella.  Nothing out-of-the-ordinary here.  Be careful of how much you eat because it just fills up space in your stomach that could otherwise be used for meat...

Yet, even before the meat, we got the requisite sides to any Brazilian BBQ meal in the Fried Banana and the Tapioca Flour Cheese Buns (Pao de Queijo).  The fried bananas were rather starchy and not that sweet.  For me, I enjoy them this way (almost like plantains) rather than overly ripe ones.  As for the buns, they were chewy and gooey due to the tapioca flour and also the amount of cheese inside.

About that meat, the first one that came to our table was the NY Striploin.  Now this is usually my favourite cut of meat, but this was not as tender as we would've preferred.  It was, however, beautifully medium-rare, which meant it was juicy.  Despite that, it was rather tough and we didn't have that much fun eating it.  Lots of meat flavour though while the exterior was nicely salted.

Now the Picanha (or Top Sirloin Cap) was much more tender, despite not being as sexy as a NY steak.  This was also done medium-rare, hence it was juicy and moist.  The fat cap did help offer up some pretty delicious meat flavour as well.  Even though we got a thick slice from our server, it still cut easily and was easy to chew.  Once again, this was well-salted.

Another decent cut of meat was the Ribeye.  As you can see in the picture, it was also perfectly medium-rare.  You can also see on this cut, the large salt crystals on the outside.  This was also rather juicy, yet decently rested, so that it didn't leak all over our plate.  This was fairly tender and only second to the Picanha.  Of course, this was better than the striploin.

One of our favourite cuts of meat wasn't beef at all.  Rather, it was the Bacon-Wrapped Chicken featuring white breast meat.  We actually had this on 2 separate occasions and the second time, it was much more juicy and tender.  The smokiness and saltiness of the bacon really penetrated the chicken meat offering up impactful flavours.  In theory, it also kept the chicken moist and prevented juices from leaking out.

Although the Chicken Drumsticks should be more tender and juicy than the breast meat, it really wasn't.  That didn't mean they were dry, but they weren't that moist either.  However, the byproduct of being slightly overdone was that the skin was properly rendered and sported a golden brown sear.  The meat wasn't as aggressively seasoned, hence it as a bit bland tasting.  I didn't get a good picture of the Chicken Hearts, but they were one of our favourites being juicy and well-salted.

The worst cut of meat had to be the Pork as it was super dry and chewy.  This had a lot to do with the cut as it was super lean.  Secondly, this appeared to be put back on the BBQ (which is standard, to keep the meat warm and to cook the meat further as the middle portion is often less done).  To top things off, this was also lacking in seasoning, so we did a hard pass on the second go-around.

Another table favourite was the Slow-Cooked Beef Short Ribs.  Oh boy, these were so tender and fatty, that they practically melted-in-our-mouths.  Good thing the cooking process helped render the fat, so we were left with flavourful and well-seasoned meat.  Naturally, this was served on a platter and since we were sitting upstairs, it didn't make it up to us.  Rather, they sent us up a plate, showing that they remembered we were up there.

Even though Pork Sausages aren't the most sexy item to have here, they were still quite good.  They were well-charred on the outside without being burnt.  Nice smokiness and slight crispiness on the casing.  Inside, the meat was not overprocessed.  Instead, it was had good chunks of meat that was mixed well with just enough fat.  I found the sausages not that fatty.

Lastly, we had some slices of the Cinnamon Pineapple that was cooked enough so it was warm and juicy with the sugars activated.  The charred cinnamon on the outside was slightly sweet and smoky.  So I'm sure the biggest question you are wondering is: how does Rio compare to Fogo de  Chão?  Well, not well to be honest.  Fogo is superior in meat quality and selection.  However, Rio does hold the advantage of being considerably less expensive.  Furthermore, until Fogo opens up a location here (which is rumoured to be coming), there is no competition for Rio.

The Good:
- Only Brazilian BBQ in town
- Excellent service
- Fun eating

The Bad:
- Meat quality isn't the best
- Meat selection is limited 



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