Sunday, November 24, 2013

Novilhos - Brazilian Steakhouse

I wasn't expecting my brother to make a second appearance in the Pacific Northwest but when he told me that he was coming up to Redmond for a conference, our first immediate thoughts were the same: when are we going to get together and where are we going to eat? Last time, up in Vancouver, we went to Hawksworth and filled up on steak. This time around, we decided to do something similar but different at the same time. How, you ask. Simple. Novilhos: Brazilian Steakhouse. It's steak (similar) but served buffet style (different). It's my brother and myself (similar) but with two of our close friends (different). How was the restaurant? Was it as spectacularly delicious as Hawksworth or different? Let's find out....

"If you're a meat lover, this place is for you."

Novilhos is located next to the Factoria Mall, in its own building so there's plenty of parking. The restaurant gives off a classy vibe. Walking into the darkened entry, it reminded me of walking into a night club.  We were greeted by the receptionist and once we mentioned our reservations, we were immediately seated.  We sat in the main dining room but I saw several rooms off to the side, most likely used for large parties. Our waiter quickly appeared and asked us if this was our first time at Novilhos. We said yes. He then kindly explained to us how things work:
  1. you grab your salad/appetizers from the salad bar first.  Fill up on as much salad and appetizers you want but save room for meat.
  2. on your table is a coin shaped red/green card that each guest has.  The red side is displayed when you're seated.
  3. once you're ready for meat, you turn over your coin to green.  Green means meat.  Meat servers, who are often circling around the main dining area, will stop by and offer what they're serving.
  4. while pigging out on all of the fabulous meat selections, you're welcome to back to the salad/appetizer bar as much as you want
Red side of the meat service coin.  With fried bananas.

Let's start with the salad and appetizers.  Along with leafy green lettuce and vegetables, you can choose from other various prepared salads, such as caesar, potato, pasta, and cole slaw. There are also a number of breads, hams, cheeses, eggs, rice and fruit selections. I stocked up on a little bit of everything.  Each table also gets a basket of warm cheese bread, mashed potatoes, and fried bananas. Very nice spread.

My friends and my brother decided that it was meat time and flipped their coins to green. Within a minute, a server appeared holding a giant skewer with a thick steak covered in mozzarella cheese.  The server carefully sliced off a piece and asked my brother to grab the slice. Each guest has their own set of tongs so using his tongs, my brother grabbed the generous slice of meat and put it on his plate. The server did the same thing with my friends.  I was still eating my salad.  Next came the rib eye, followed by pork loins, then chicken wings and sausage.  If you're a meat lover, this place is for you.  I decided to go for another round of salad.

My "salad".  That round thing on the left is a meatball.  Very delicious.

By the time I was almost done with my second helping of salad, my brother had a concerned look on his face and was wondering if 1) I was on a diet (of course not!) and 2) if I was feeling OK.  I told him I was pacing myself.  I finally flipped over my coin to green and started pigging out on everything that was being offered, including the bacon wrapped chicken (scrumptious), filet mignon (juicy), and sausage (pretty good).  By this time, my brother and my friends were starting to realize that they needed to slow down.  They were consuming too much meat too quickly.  They already went through two rounds of meat and they were already starting to feel the need to stop.  I kept on eating.  More chicken wings, spare ribs and rib eye please.

Protein! And carbs! The best of both worlds. Who needs vegetables?!?

But even my pacing didn't help me in the end.  By the end of the third round, all of us were on the ropes: too much meat consumed too quickly.  But the beauty of buffet is that you can take your time and enjoy the food or enjoy the conversation with your dinner guests so while resting (I was munching on more of the appetizers), we talked and had a really great time.

We finally decided that we had enough and dessert was presented to us.  Unfortunately, we didn't save enough room for dessert (auxiliary stomach, usually reserved for dessert, was used during the third round of meat eating) so we had to pass. I did take a picture:

Too stuffed to eat anything else.  That cheesecake looks good though.  I mean, look at it!  Next time!

Overall, a meat lover's paradise with nice salad/appetizer selection for all of your grazing needs.  It's $48 for the full meat and salad course but if you're in the mood for various types of meat and want it all you can eat, this is the place to be.  Just remember to pace yourself.

Novilhos - Brazilian Steakhouse
12405 SE 38th St
Bellevue, WA 98006

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