Eatery - Chamas Churrascaria (NC)

Chamas Churrascaria - Brightleaf Square, 905 W Main St #115, Durham, NC 27701
Pricing -  $$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Brazilian, Steak | Reservations - Available 

*DISCLAIMER* I went during Triangle Restaurant Week so the pricing was not the same. Listed above is the pricing based off of the regular menu.

So I had always heard good things about this place but never found a reason to go considering how pricey it was, and my general desire not to stuff myself for meals. I like eating to the point where I'm sated but not bursting at the seams. Naturally, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse is kind of a bad option for someone with that mentality. However, Restaurant Week tempted me with a $15 lunch here for the full rodizio so I found myself going before classes today with my roommate. It was well worth it, and I did feel quite full afterward but did not feel the pressure to gorge. Some diners will eat until they feel sick because of the price tag but for $15, I was completely fine with having a good portioned lunch.

When I heard that there was an unlimited salad bar, I thought, "oh pish posh, a salad bar, whatever." However, I was pleasantly surprised at the options there! They had the normal salad things like bowls of iceberg and bowls of dark greens with dressing options; they also had a lot off unexpected items as well. I got some asparagus (that was pretty much just blanched so hardly tasty), a potato-egg salad (which was deliciously egg-y), tangy zucchini and yellow squash (fantastic and crisp), seasoned mushrooms (the kind of sour kick that I like), string beans (freshly crunchy), sundried tomato slice ( die for), green olive stuffed with pimento (too much brine), dark greens with Italian dressing (fairly basic), and seasoned onion slices (quite flavorful). I think that on a normal day, I would've been fine just sticking to the salad bar buffet option that Chamas offers because I didn't even get to eat everything they had there.

They brought out these small bread bun things that reminded my roommate of Chinese sticky buns, the ones that are hard on the outside and very sticky on the inside. I thought the same thing except that these weren't sweet - the inside was a gooey cheesy bread. I liked it but could only eat one at the time.

So the salad bar also includes some hot foods. I grabbed some of the white rice (Basmati i think - it was cooked quite well and complemented the meats) and the pasta with marinara sauce (I liked their use of basil here). I also got a wedge of Fontina cheese to just munch on. Anyhow, so the first two meats that I tried were the chicken and pork sausage. The meats at Chamas are brought to your table by gauchos who have swords of the meat. If it needs to be sliced, they slice it for you and you use your personal mini-tongs to take the pieces. It's a fun experience in itself. I'd have to say that the pork sausage was very thick and meaty - I liked it but preferred the succulent chicken more. It was well seasoned, juicy, and had a not-too-salty crispy skin on it. The chicken turned out to be one of my favorite meats from what they offered.

To the left is obviously some mashed potatoes. These come with the buffet to your table. I was disappointed in them because they tasted like instant potatoes that you get at the store - I thought that before I even had some because of how it looked when I was scooping some onto my plate. Anyhow, I had a piece of quite rare flank steak that was deliciously chewy, and then I made the mistake of eating the fatty part off of the sirloin slice on the right. Both were cooked to perfection I thought.

One of my favorite meats from the meal was the garlic steak (on the left) because it had a good amount of flavor in it. I actually did not think that it tasted very garlic-y; the other seasonings served it well. On the right is a piece of sirloin that was cooked to about a medium well level but even then was very soft and juicy. I liked the edges on my piece as they were a bit charred with some good flavor to them.

Meats that I didn't grab pictures of (because I was too full at this point) were the bacon-wrapped chicken and the bacon-wrapped filet mignon. I found the chicken to be too salty with the bacon addition but the filet mignon was excellent. I only wished that I had had it as one of my first meats so that I could enjoy the full piece; at that point, I could only have a small taste.

This sweetly fried banana coated with cinnamon and sugar made me think of a churro when I first saw it. These come with the meal to your table, and I managed to grab a few bites before calling it quits for the lunch. I was a bit concerned that I would just end up throwing everything up once I got to my MMA class later that afternoon so I said I was done (though actually, all the food gave me tons of energy for the class and I had a great workout).

I think that the atmosphere there was very nice. My roommate said that it was much better going at lunch time when the gauchos could slowly bring us our meats and we could pace ourselves; the last time she went, it was during the dinner rush and everyone just sped by serving loads of meat that she felt obliged to finish ASAP because they're there and hot. I enjoyed myself and would definitely go back for a lunch. I'd also probably pace myself a little more if I had the time - I had rush a little bit today due to class but oh well! It was still pretty fantastic.