Thursday, 9 July 2015

A happy endless meat buffet at Lapa Brazilian Barbecue, Subiaco

Lapa Brazilian Barbecue - Subiaco
It's official - my love for meat has reached excruciating highs. I never really thought about this relationship between meat and I, and while I can ashamedly admit that I could never be a vegetarian, it was only today when mum cooked breakfast for the family and made a portion of stir-fried beef just for me that jolted me into a deep reflection about my meat-eating ways.

I asked her why she made a portion of meat especially for me in the otherwise meatless breakfast and she responded quite straightforwardly:

"Because you like meat".

True that - mother knows best. And it is the main reason why I chose a Brazilian Barbecue restaurant to celebrate my birthday. I've been here before, but a neverending flow of meat never fails to excite me.
Lapa's yes and no signals; I am both proud but slightly horrified to declare that mine never quite made it to the red side.
The policy at Lapa is that groups of 6 or more must order the Rodizio, a Brazilian style endless feast offering all the meat you could possibly consume. At the set price of $50 per person, diners can eat their way through 16 different cuts of meat freshly carved off skewers straight onto your plate by waiters who do continuously rounds through the restaurant, weaving between tables with skewers and trolleys of meat freshly grilled from the kitchen.

Eating at Lapa can be a boisterous and merry experience or it could be a silent affair - especially when you are simply too full for words. Individual place cards for each person can be flipped to red to signal waiters to stop with the meat offering, indicating that 'I am too full to even open my mouth to tell you to stop' or kept on green to silently shout "Please throw all the meat you have at me, go, go, go!"
Side dishes served with the endless feast
The great thing about the endless feast option is that there is no waiting involved. As soon as you are seated the side dishes arrive almost immediately and send you well on your way to forgetting about all the meat to follow, so don't waste valuable stomach space!

The table is quickly lined with different sized bowls of side dishes that come with the endless feast, and staying true to its name, the refills you are able to get are of course, endless. Side dishes are plentiful, and include garden salad, a creamy potato salad, crispy hot shoestring fries, plain white rice and a deliciously flavoursome black bean stew. Something I'd prefer to be done differently is for their bananinha frita (such fun to say!) to be delivered towards the end of dinner so that these desserty-type sweet crumbed bananas can be savoured after rather than at the beginning of a meal.

If you operate like me, the side dishes will be your starting point and then your finishing point at the end, with a case of 'sides amnesia' in the middle whereby a large chunk of time is dedicated to eating meat and only meat. And I think that's perfectly justifiable :)
Brazilian salsa with a punchy vinaigrette and chimichurri sauce (green sauce made up predominantly of parsley, garlic and olive oil).
Also pictured is farofa: roasted cassava flour and bread crumbs with bacon.
The feast starts off nice and slowly...
Many hands start reaching for the bowl of cheese balls; a perfectly plump and doughy pillow of cheesy bread with a slight chewy texture. They are quite a hit as my niece evidently takes a liking to them and devoured two in quick succession. Sides that aren't placed at the table is a selection of two pastas from Lapa's daily pasta specials, served fresh steaming hot from the kitchen. The three vegetarian pastas include a white sauce lasagne, spaghetti napolitana and spaghetti al garlic, a lovely rich dish with strong garlic aroma.
Oh, the spaghetti. Mum could not stop asking for that spaghetti.

Lapa also serves a winning grilled pineapple, a real godsend in carnivorous situations with its acidity to cut through the heaviness of eating truckloads of meat. The pineapple is grilled to a beautiful golden brown, glistening from the caramelisation of cinnamon sugar liberally sprinkled all over the fruit. The grilled pineapple itself is sweet and so extremely moreish, that I get a hot, freshly grilled serving after greedily asking the kitchen to grill just one more batch just before they turn off the grills for the night.
Beef ribs on table-side trolleys that are wheeled around the restaurant
Phew! Up until this point it has been a meatless affair and if you aren't careful, you might fill up on starters before the real deal of this Churrascaria has even started. As a typical Brazilian restaurant, a churrascaria's cooking style is predominantly barbecued meats, lovingly grilled to ensure meat is succulent, juicy and sealed with flavour. Your serving is carved in front of your eyes; quite literally, at eye level, by smiling waiters who ask for your assistance to help transfer the meat off the skewer onto your own plate. A look akin to extreme eagerness surely must cast over the face of every single diner here, in anticipation of their first piece of meat!
Meat is served to you this way, off giant skewers used to grill the meats
Over the course of the meatful night, we work our way through the large selection of different meat cuts, some of which were better than others. The different meats come in rounds, and you should resist the temptation to indulge in one or two types at the beginning when you know you have another fifteen waiting for you later on.

Meats available with the endless feast include:
  • Beef: rump cap, garlic steak, black pepper steak, beef ribs, beef rib fingers, southern Brazilian style kebab, whole rump, Brazilian sausage;
  • Pork: pork belly rib, pork scotch fillet;
  • Lamb leg; and
  • Chicken: chicken wings, chicken with cheese, garlic chicken, chilli chicken and small, dainty chicken hearts.
The standouts that night that have left an impression on me was definitely the rump cap, grilled to a pale pink in the middle and just so tender. Another favourite on the table were the beef ribs, cooked to a beautiful softness with nicely rendered fat and threads of meat easily pulled apart as well as the fiery red tainted chilli chicken pieces. There were one or two meats which were overdone and gristly as a result, but one bad egg never spoils the entire basket.

Seating at Lapa
There's a real joyous atmosphere in the Lapa restaurant; there's festivities all around and you are pretty much guaranteed that there will be someone there celebrating their birthday on the night you dine. It is a casual and very comfortable setting, making it great for families; they set up coloured plastic cutlery and bowls for little ones and even the manager himself came by our table with some confectionery specially for the 4 year old eating with us.
Booth seating options at Lapa
When you dine out at a restaurant, it's often the little things that staff do for you that you notice and appreciate most. My aunt does not eat beef, and when she declined one waiter who was doing laps around our table with one beef dish after another one too many times, he asked what she wanted to eat and offered to ask the kitchen to make it for her. This was a simple, genuine gesture that impressed us with how considerate the staff were and really set an example of great hospitality.
You are never far from the live action in the kitchen regardless of where you sit in the restaurant, thanks to a wall mounted television monitoring the moves of the chefs in the kitchen preparing and marinating meats and grilling their hearts away. 
Alternatively, you can watch the guys at work through the huge glass windows encasing the kitchen
The uniqueness about eating here is the table-side service and dining format; Lapa provides not only the answer to a carnivore's wildest prayers but a dining experience that captures the joy of eating out together, especially through the social interaction and hospitality provided by forever happy and friendly waiters.

There is also an a la carte menu option but with that costing nearly as much as the $50 endless feast, I would stretch that $50 note as far as I possibly could with as many beef rib fingers and sausages I could possibly stuff in my mouth instead :)
Lapa Brazilian Barbecue, Subiaco
Lunch Friday - Sunday: From 12pm; last seating at 2pm
Dinner 7 nights: 6pm - late

(08) 9381 1323
375 Hay Street, Subiaco WA 6008 - not visible from Hay Street, walk into the carpark fronted by Nando's

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