Brazil Grill – the ‘new Benihanas’?

I’d love to be able to say it isn’t so.

My friend likes to spend at least part of his tax refund at places where you can get steaming hunks of meat. And if they walk around the dining room with huge chunks of sirloin, tenderloin or tri-tip, ready to slice some off directly onto your plate with their very long and sharp knives? All the better.

So we made reservations last Saturday at Brazil Grill and prepared to drop big dollars. Sure, we might have shown up in our jeans and sneakers – but we also expected that the prices themselves ($31.95 per person, excluding drinks, tip, etc.) – not to mention the less than family-friendly food on the salad bar, for example – would keep it in the ‘special peaceful grownup place’ category it’d occupied when we went there last year.

We were wrong, wrong – oh, so WRONG.

The first clue came when we were seated next to a very well-behaved family of five, clearly out for a special occasion. “Hmmm…”, I wondered. “Maybe I could think of taking my own kids here for a birthday dinner? Get the teen to put on a decent shirt? Take out a home equity loan? Sounds like an option…”

Then, three couples with seven kids under 6-7 years old piled into the restaurant. The adults promptly served themselves from the salad bar, leaving the kids to forage on their own at a counter they could barely reach. I watched kids dart between the gauchos to pile plates full of bread, and trembled in fear for one adventurous four year old who nearly escaped being trampled on three or four times over as he wandered aimlessly between the salad bar and his table. Also – wiggly kids and men bearing knives in front of them? Not a good combination, says this parent.

As the night progressed, more families with small kids came into the place, and I started to wonder to myself: Can I please get their apparently bountiful disposable income? Also – recession? What recession? So we joked with the next guy who came by with the bacon-wrapped filet mignon – “I hope you’re getting combat pay tonight!”

His reply? “Uh, yeah – we used to get mostly adults in here. But lately, it’s like we’re the new Benihana’s or something.” A quick look at the new price sheet might explain it – kids under 6 get all the tri-tip and sirloin and flank steak they can eat for 5 bucks a piece? Seriously?

Kids today have all the fun. The rest of us sharing the restaurant with them? Not so much…

2 Comments so far

  1. fooddude on March 5th, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

    Scary. I’ve noticed this several places lately – doing whatever it takes to stay afloat

  2. nolando on March 5th, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

    Wow – that is a good deal for kids but that’s not a good place for kids…

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