It's one of my closest friends, Jay's birthday. His girlfriend Gemma has organise a surprise birthday dinner, an intimate group of three couples in total. Vee and her boyfriend Carly, me and Jeremy and of course the birthday boy and his girl. She's told us he's in the mood for steak, and I've given her some options of places that I know or have heard are great. Lapa was one of them.
I've heard amazing things. A Brazilian BBQ restaurant with sixteen different cuts of meat all for the low buffet cost of $49. It's called the endless feast.
We sit down at our comfortable booth table; our mouths salivating from the wonderful Brazilian meats being escorted around the room. Sadly I'm so excited by the night's menu I forget to take photos of the truly spectacular ingredients on offer.
The endless feast works quite simply. You sit at your table and are given a coaster that has red on one side (signalling to the waiters not to offer you any food), and green on the other (yes please!). This is a simple yet ingenious method to dive into this 'all you can eat' selection of food without having to go through constant refusal to the waiters.
Our waitress starts us off with these wonderful cheese filled buns. They remind me of monji, they're soft and chewy and just the right level of cheesiness. I want to keep going with them but I know tonight is all about the meat.
Also on our table is a simple salad, a potato salad, gravy, salsa and chimmichurri. Oh yes, and this incredible bacon infused breadcrumb rub that you sprinkle over your meats to get some added crunch. It's pretty phenomenal.
Our first cut of meat is the picanha na pimenta (black pepper steak). The waiter cuts it right off the skewer on the table and we all lean in to grab a piece with our individual tongs that are supplied along with our cutlery. It tastes great; peppery and delicious. The meat is cooked medium, and it works very well with a thick smear of chimmichurri over the top.
Next up we have the picanha, which is a rump cap. It's a bit too chewy for me but it's flavoured well. However I'm easily distracted when the waiter starts to carve up file de porco (pork scotch fillet) in front of me. It's lean and tender; cooked just to the right point. I sprinkle a little gravy over the top so that it enhances that wonderful flavour even more.
Three cuts in out of sixteen and we're all starting to feel a bit like we're edging towards being full. But as the waitress told us at the start of the night, this is all about stamina.
I can hear a tableside trolley coming and on top is the costela, a beef rib. This is easily my favourite meat of the night and one I definitely will remember even though some of the others blend together in my memory (I started to fall into a meat coma). This beef rib is fatty but it's rendered perfectly. It's tempting in it's scent and the generous quantity offered is one that I would happily eat forever.
It's a terrible photo, but here's one of the only moments where I actually remembered to try and capture this meaty experience.
The rest of the night is a bit of a blur. I remember the linguica (Brazilian sausage) which is meaty but has great zing from the herbs and spices mixed throughout. I remember the frango com chilli (chicken with chilli) which was bit too dry for my liking. And the pernil de carneiro (lamb leg) which falls into the same boat.
But my last piece, well that was right up there with that beef rib. It's the picanha com alho, the garlic rump cap and it is incredible. So juicy and dripping with garlicy goodness. It's luscious and I am completely and utterly full but somehow I manage to force it down my throat. It's pure greedy madness but I don't care, it's just the best way for me to finish my meal here tonight.
Lapa is an experience. Not one I could do very often since my body feels like it's still recovering from the overload of meat, but one that I really enjoyed. It might not be soon, but I will be back, tucking into that delicious endless feast again.
Hopefully next time I'll be able to try more of the complimentary sides that are brought around. More of that moorish, oozy cheese lasagna. More of that al dente garlic spaghetti. More, more, more please.