Churrascaria Plataforma is a Brazilian – style steakhouse with two locations in New York City , one in mid-town near Rockefeller Center and the other in Tribeca. I’ve been to the one in Tribeca about four or five times because it’s more convenient ; I’ve never been to the other. I’ve usually enjoyed myself there but on my most recent visit last Saturday I felt it was not as good as it has been in the past.
At the Tribeca location , Patrons enter through the narrow unimpressive front into a large L – shaped room with high ceilings and dim lighting. To the right is the bar ; to the left a sitting area with cushioned stools and low tables where one can wait for while sipping on a drink. In the corner of the room , a little further in , is the salad and seafood bar and , in the other arm of the L ,off to the left, is the dining area with seats for about 120 or so. Churrascarias are best experienced in groups so the tables are mostly large and long though there are a few smaller ones.
While the main attraction of churrascarias is the amount and variety of the grilled meats and the novelty of the rodizio style service , the salad and seafood bars are extensive . One could make a meal of the various salads and seafood dishes without having any meat at all. At the Plataforma ‘s salad bar there were about thirty or more choices invitingly laid out. Some of the choices : Shrimp with cocktail sauce , giant white beans , hearts of palm , calamari , quail eggs , several pastas, at least six different salads , cheese risotto, sushi , a couple of soups and three or four seafood entrees. Not wanting to stuff myself at the bar and leave myself too full for the rest of the meal , I restricted myself to one plateful of small portions of the items that interested me.
Back at the table , the waiters took our drink orders . On earlier visits , I’d tried Xingu , a dark Brazilian beer, and sampled a caipirinha. This time, I chose another Brazilian beer, Itaipava, a blonde variety which I thought was excellent . Brazil produces a large variety of beers and Bohemia and Brahma are among the most highly rated by beer aficionados. Whatever. I was happy with my Itaipava . Others in our party tried espresso martinis and enjoyed them but I didn’t care for them .
While we were still sampling our selections from the seafood and salad bar , the waiters started to bring the side dishes to our table of ten. First up was a basket of unusual breads, then plates of broccoli , fried polenta sticks( excellent), fried sweet plantains ( don’t miss) , potatoes etc. Then started the parade of servers each bearing a large knife and a different type of grilled meat on a skewer . Diners who wanted a particular meat could indicate their choice to the server. He would slice off a piece, thick or thin as desired , and the diner would use a pair of tongs to guide it onto his plate. As is common at churrascarias , each diner had in front of him a colored cardboard disk , red on one side and green on the other. If he wanted another helping he would flip it green side up ; if he wanted a break or if he was done , he would turn it over so that the red side was uppermost.
Not wanting to shoot my bolt too early, I opted only for the meats I really wanted , asked for a thin slice of each and shared it with my wife . She did the same and by alternating our choices we were able to try almost everything . Neither of us wanted the duck but we tried most everything else. I really liked the Iberian sausage ( the first offering) and the bacon wrapped filet mignon. The sirloin was fine too and the beef ribs were OK but some of the other items were a tad too salty. The skirt steak , which is usually the pièce de résistance , was a disappointment , far too chewy for my liking.
We’d kept some space for the desserts and my choice , the mango mousse , was a fitting counterpoint to the meat-heavy meal .I shared it with two others in our party. The other dessert choices included triple chocolate cake , napoleans , coconut flan , jam rolls , chocolate fudge truffles , passion fruit mousse, cheesecake and tiramisu.
Eating at a churrascaria in New York City is expensive . At the Plataforma , it costs each diner $ 68 and if you add in drinks , tax and tip , the tab will be easily close to $ 100 apiece. However , a churrascaria dinner is not a frequent occurrence. As you stagger out , you know that it was a good experience but one that you don’t want to repeat for at least another four or six months .
Some years ago , I’d heard of a huge churrascaria seating 1700 diners time . It was in one of the other boroughs ( Queens ) and was supposedly under Korean management . Unfortunately , I can’t find any trace of it online. Too bad , because I wouldn’t mind going there for a change . But not for another six months of course.
Churrascaria Tribeca . 221 West Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10013 (212) 925-6969