Steaking a Claim

Can Amazonia survive the glut?

The self-serve cold bar at Amazonia had colorful and tasty if not particularly creative dishes — creamy potatoes, cocktail shrimp, cooked salmon, tiny tart pickles, Krab salad, marinated vegetables, bowtie pasta, mixed greens, crusty bread, and garlicky garbanzo beans. We found a hunk of pork gristle in our black beans but otherwise had no complaints. Next, we turned our wooden icon green-side-up to signify that we were ready for the 16 different meats that Amazonia advertises. Perhaps because it was a slow night, the house seemed to be serving only three-quarters of them. The gauchos started us off with grilled chicken and chunks of filet wrapped in bacon, both running with juices and coated with the irresistible sheen of bacon fat. They brought more filet, thinly sliced off their swords, and delicately spiced Brazilian sausages straining against crisp skins. Then sirloin, rib eye, and the house special, picanha. Our gaucho called picanha the "best cut" of the sirloin; on my beef map, it appears to be the tri tip, a small triangle roast cut from the bottom of the sirloin, a cut Americans won't find in most butcher shops or restaurants. With a lightly charred rim of fat, it's a meat that stirs something primal, as forceful and suggestive as filet mignon is cultivated and restrained. The picanha and the rib eye were wonderful. The roasted lamb leg smelled and tasted like a campfire in a paddock.

We asked specifically for beef ribs, which were not offered, and then wished we hadn't. They were stringy. We saw no sign of chicken wings with pineapple or hearty flank-cut pork or parmesan-crusted pork loin or crispy chicken legs — all promised on Amazonia's website. Sides served at the table fell flat — chewy and dull yucca frita, fried bananas doused in cinnamon (don't make the mistake of eating these with your beef), mashed potatoes — when a little color could have brightened the mood.

Of desserts, only the papaya cream ($5.95) justifies imperiling your price-per-ounce ratio: a cold, smoothly gelatinous cream laced with papaya juice, with a faintly rosy color, it's as refreshing as a sponge bath after the festival of flesh. A thicker consistency would have perfected it. Both the flan and the cheesecake, soft, heavy, and dense, were too much for already overtaxed digestions.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Amazonia Churrascaria

11300 Legacy Ave.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Category: Restaurant > Brazilian

Region: Palm Beach Gardens

Details

Amazonia Brazilian Churrascaria, 11300 Legacy Ave., Palm Beach Gardens. Open Monday through Saturday 6 till 11 p.m., Sunday 4 till 11 p.m. Call 561-694-9400.

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Leaving, I think we all felt a little gloomy. It was as if we were dragging behind us, down those echoing streets with brand-new pavers, the shadows of fortunes squandered. Amazonia isn't a bad restaurant, but there are jollier churrascarias within an hour's drive, in real cities with more honest legacies.

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