Evenings for Two

Your guide to romance, fine dining and fun in the Triangle, NC.

Chamas: Nirvana for the Carnivoracious

If you love meat — no I mean if you really love meat — you have to try Chamas at Brightleaf in Durham.  It’s a Churrascaria or Brazillian steak house.

The main thing on the menu — well pretty much the only thing on the menu–is roasted meat.  Talk about low-carb restaruant options. Stand outs include the garlic steak, the flank steak and the lamb. But we also sampled incredibly moist chicken that practically fell off the bone, bacon wrapped filet mignon, pork loin and italian sasuage.   All were beautifully seared with well-balanced seasonings.

I recommend starting with their signature drink — a Caipirinha.  It’s Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaca, sugar and lime.  Think of it as a rum-based drink.  Kind of a tart mojito.  Actaully, I think I liked it better than a mojito.

You are then invited to get a plate of starters from their extensive gourmet buffet.  This included items like brie cheese topped with apricot preserves and sliced almonds, roasted sun dried tomatoes, mussels in garlic sauce, calamari salad and more.  Way more.  In fact, you can just order the buffet as your meal and pass on the meat.  But don’t pass on the meat.

Once you’re done, they start coming around with the full pieces of meat — like the entire tenderloin — on huge skewers.  If you want some, they slice off a piece (just like at a carving station) and you take it with tongs and put it on your plate.  They serve a couple of sides but those are pretty much just for decoration.

Insider Tips: On Thursday nights they have live music at Chamas and on Fridays during the summer Brightleaf hosts concerts.  Also, this place is great for groups!


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1 Comment

  1. My wife and I went to Chamas this Sunday 8-Mar. We had enjoyed Chamas about 1.5 years ago with friends visiting from Chile. We were looking forward to another pleasant dining experience. We entered the restaurant with our 50% off coupon and pleasant memories of the past dining experience.

    I will start positive. The restaurant was celebrating a Carnival event and the atmosphere was suitable. The dining area was decorated with balloons and pleasant music was playing in the background. The staff were smartly dressed in black and white with charming appropriately styled hats.

    Unfortunately, the pleasantries ended there. Although the salad bar had more to offer than the typical Ruby Tuesday fare, it seemed like a smaller selection than we had experienced in our previous visit. The salad bar hosted an assortment of typical fare coupled with a reasonable selection seafood, cheese, and garnishes. Despite a couple good cheese offerings, no suitable accompaniment was offered. There were no crackers and the two breads offered were either sweet or cheesy. We did not try the seafood and the salad was average.

    Although the salad bar was a little disappointing, we had come for the meat so we moved on. In retrospect, we should have cut our losses at $25 for the salad bar and left. We continued our dining experience with the $35 all you can eat (stomach) meat buffet.

    First we tried the ribs. With no noticeable charring, the ribs were about as dry and crisp as they could be without turning to ash. These were not only unpleasant, but totally inedible. Our memories fostered hope; there were other meats to try.

    Next, we tried the garlic steak. This meat was moist and almost tender. The flavor was salty but pleasant. Yes, our hope was returning. We can’t wait for the bacon wrapped filet and chicken that we remember fondly.

    The lamb we received next was fatty, tough, and inconsistently cooked. After 5 minutes attempting to cut off a piece of edible meat we gave up. Our one slice of well-done, medium, rare lamb was simply to fatty and tough to salvage. We were starting to feel guilty as the pile of waste meat on our plate started to grow.

    With our hopes diminishing, we tried the flank steak next. Again, we were disappointed. The flank steak was tough and the flavor unpleasant. More for the waste pile.

    Finally, the bacon wrapped filet mignon and chicken was served. At this point we were hungry, looking forward to the pleasant flavor and textures from our memory. Cutting into the filet revealed a grayish-black nugget of meat. Could it taste as bad as it looked? Our hunger pushed us on. I have had better tasting stew beef. The frozen bacon filet nuggets from Costco were better than this.

    Our hopes now dashed, we surrendered. We summoned the manager and one of the owners appeared. When confronted with our pile of butchered meat, the owner defended the restaurant’s cooking style. When asked how she could consider grayish-black filet mignon to be properly cooked, she responded “we have people who like it this way and come back every weekend.” We were skeptical as we looked around at the many empty tables. My wife stated we would never be back as we paid our $50 check (after 50% coupon).

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