In the words of Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse, lunch and dinner are “a three-course Brazilian feast.” Similar to other all-you-can-meat restaurants, the Dallas-based chain’s newest location, this one in the West 7th Street corridor, begins with a salad bar. Among the respectable four dozen items are soups, fancy meats and cheeses, chilled asparagus, and mixed salads. The Brazilian chicken salad called the salpicão is similar to a Waldorf: shredded bird mixed with diced apples, pineapple, and nuts, held together with a mayonnaise-type dressing. It was simple and tasty, sweet but not too sweet.
The same was true for the lump crab meat-stuffed peppadews. The crab and sweetly spicy peppers were delicious one-bite appetizers.
Meat is the thing here, though. Once you’re done with your salad course, you’re instructed to turn the coaster-sized sign on your table to green.
As soon as you make the flip, roaming gaucho-chefs will descend with slabs of meat on churrasco skewers. The traditional cut of meat at Brazilian steakhouses is the picanha, in the same geographic region as top sirloin and tri-tip, the rump. The spicy, slightly salty rub made the meat taste great, and the marbling ensured the whole thing was almost fork-tender. The garlic picanha is the same cut but spiced with a garlic aioli. Of all the meats on sticks, this was the one with the most flavor and the one I’d go back for if I had a second stomach.
The bacon-wrapped chicken (a fist-sized chunk of marinated breast wrapped in one large strip) was decent, and both ingredients were cooked perfectly. However, either the marinade or the bacon made the whole package a tad too salty.
There are three types of lamb on skewers, two of which we sampled. The lamb chops were a little tough, while the leg of lamb was incredibly flavorful if slightly chewier than the beef.
The meal also includes cheesy mashed potatoes and fried bananas. Both tasted fine, but there was no space for extra carbohydrates. The delicious, delicately double-baked polenta in the bread basket managed to be both chewy and somewhat crunchy.
Dessert is the last course. The Brazilian flan and coconut flan were both dense and moist, with perfect consistency. The coconut flavor was subtle, and little chunks of grilled pineapple augmented the top. Also on the dessert cart was a mango cream (similar to custard) served parfait-style in a shot glass with a dusting of cocoa. Again, the fruit flavor was subtle: light and delicious. There were also cheesecake bites (that were not house-made) and a pecan pie, which was a little heavy.
Rafain is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. If you’re on the clock, you’ll feel too rushed. Should the full meal deal seem a little too much, Rafain also offers items a la carte, served on the patio or in the lounge. A single-helping mixed-meat platter is $25. Several salads, as well as the salpicão sandwich with fries, are all under $10. Individual servings of the flan or papaya cream are $7 and $8 respectively.
Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse
2932 Crockett St, FW. 817-862-9800. 12-3pm & 4:30-pm Sun, 11am-2pm Mon-Fri, 5-9pm Mon-Thu, 5-10pm Fri, 4:30-10:30pm Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Three-course lunch ………… $25.99
Three-course dinner ……….. $45.99