MEAT YOUR DREAM GRILL: When you just can't get enough of a good thing

Situated nicely within Compuwares World Headquarters, looking out over Campus Martius and with the shining silver of the GM Renaissance Center resplendent in the near-distance, is one of the Ds most gratifying new dining experiences the superbly appointed carnivorous wonderland that is Texas de Brazil.

More than the usual polished top-shelf bar and prime cuts menu of the respectable chophouse, Texas de Brazil vanquishes such common expectations immediately just by being seated. This is an all-you-can-eat Brazilian Steakhouse. And, there is so much to eat, and of such high-quality, that a good rule of thumb would be to fast the day before you go and, maybe, like me, the day afterwards, as well.

This is the essence of comfort food, a lot of it, and in a Detroit setting so safe and inviting and at the same time invigorating, that quite honestly, theres nothing else either like it, or that has ever been like it, in the downtown area.

With a 50-item salad bar, including exotic selections of freshly done vegetables, seasonal salads, shrimp, pasta, well-made dressings, really tasty and piquant soups like lobster bisque, aged French cheeses, a terrine of goat cheese, Buffalo mozzarella, and much more, one could easily graze for an entire night along the salad bar without setting your teeth into any of the mainstay meat dishes. For that matter, a strict vegetarian would find pure satisfaction among the offerings here.

But, lets talk about the Meat. I capitalized that on purpose. Because thats what Texas de Brazil is all about. Gauchos, the restaurants fancy booted and traditionally attired carvers, roam the floor and carry skewers directly to your table, where, if you choose to have what theyre serving, an ample portion is placed on your plate. And, the skewers of food that seem to endlessly circle your table are impressive for both quantity and quality. Dainty appetites could be satisfied far sooner than theres any lull in this parade of high-on-the-food chain entrees.

The meat selections are fantastic. One can try as many and as much of them as you desire. And, heres where Ill give out some rock-solid gustatory advice: Pace yourself. Try a little of everything. It was all good. Brazilian sausage, the signature house top sirloin both plain and marinated in garlic, slow-roasted leg and excellent rack of lamb, flank steak, filet mignon, braised beef ribs, pork ribs, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, and various cuts of pork all done to perfection with skill and well-crafted technique. What a way to satisfy ones meat-tooth! Sides are also served non-stop throughout your seating and include creamy garlic mashed redskin potatoes, fried bananas with a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar, and a yucca-flour cheese bread.

To add to the feast-like nature of this outing, if you fancy a cocktail with dinner, you have to try one of the Brazilian specialty drinks, made with Cachaca, the Brazilian rum-like liquor distilled from sugarcane. My lovely companion had the traditional Caipirinha, with lime and sugar, and I opted for the Bahia Breeze with cream of coconut. Both outstanding.

Dessert, if you can handle something so rich and delicious after such a splurge of extravagant protein, is undeniably worth the effort. Remember . . . pace yourself. I had the key lime pie with a cordial glass splash of Chambord over the top. My companion chose the chocolate cake with white and dark chocolate. (She said what was left was pretty wonderful the next day, too.)

A place for both mammoth hungers and those who just want a great one-plate sitting, Texas de Brazil, on the main floor of the Compuware Building, is a destination restaurant. It should be on every metro Foodies list.

Our main server, Ben Newman, was terrific, and someone who, I learned from GM Petro Drakopoulos, had never worked in a restaurant environment before coming to Texas de Brazil. Ill mention our service because what Petro, a Chicago native, has done downtown is something special hes raised the standards of restaurant service to levels seldom seen when dining in The D. The one thing missing from many a restaurant, and that which has caused several of the best food presentations to languish and then fail in Detroit, has been the dearth of good service. Here, at Texas de Brazil, constant polite attention, superb manners, and basic thoughtfulness from the waitstaff amplify what I would justly consider to be one of the best dining experiences downtown, or really, anywhere.

By Paul Arlon

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