San Diego Restaurant Week starts today. I want to give you fair warning; should you choose to dine at Rei do Gado Brazilian Steakhouse, go hungry. You will get a lot of food! Our server Max has been a part of the Rei do Gado family for three years now, and he couldn’t be more gracious and attentive. He brought us a glass of Hilary Goldschmidt Napa Valley Cabernet and then asked if we wanted to try a signature Brazilian cocktail, the Caipirinha. Made with Cachaçha, lime juice and sugar, its slightly sweet, but delicious and very refreshing.
Rei do Gado is a family owned restaurant that began in 1999 as a Brazilian Churrascaria, serving traditional Brazilian barbecue. The restaurant week menu is the same as the regular menu, but you get to enjoy the numerous options at a greatly reduced price. Lunch is $30, dinner is $40. You start with a visit to the bountiful salad bar that also features an assortment of Brazilian side dishes. Feijoada, a black bean stew, is one of my favorites and theirs is exceptional. You’ll find smoked salmon, Alaskan king crab legs, pão de queijo, Brazilian gluten-free cheese rolls which are absolutely delicious! That’s just scratching the surface. There’s anything you could dream of in a salad bar plus so much more.
It’s tempting to fill up on the salad bar, but please don’t. There’s so much more to come. There are 20 different styles of meat, all carved table side or served from a skewer. You’re given a pair of tongs to pull your slice of meat free as the carver is slicing it. There’s also a container of chimichuri and a soy-based Oriental sauce to accompany your meats. Max asked if we wanted horseradish so we had some of that, too. We both agreed that the meats were seasoned to perfection and didn’t need anything else, but we did try all the sauces, asking the servers which they recommended and they were wonderful, too. We sampled eight different cuts of beef including flap steak, tri tip, hanger steak, and short rib as well as leg of lamb and pork tenderloin. One of our absolute favorites was the bacon wrapped turkey on a skewer. The red and green wooden piece on the left if for your servers. When the green side is up they will keep bringing meat. Turn it over to red when you surrender.
Keyslayer provided live music and he was quite good. When Max asked if we wanted dessert, we looked at each other as if to say ‘are you kidding?’, but his powers of persuasion were hard to resist. He brought out pudim, a Brazilian flan garnished with an orchid flower. It was light and mouth-watering. He then brought out crème brûlée, also adorned with an orchid. With a hard shell, it too was delicious and with the 1921 tequila based cordial served in a snifter, it was the perfect ending to an incredible evening. Rei do Gado is at 939 4th Avenue in San Diego, just blocks from the waterfront and convention center.
San Diego Restaurant Week runs September 23 – 30 with more than 100 restaurants to choose from offering special restaurant week menus. We previewed three of them this week, Osteria Panevino, Parc Bistro-Brasserie and Rei do Gado. We had a unique and marvelous experience at each. Do yourself a favor and have lunch or dinner at at least one this week.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. WINEormous is the recipient of the Luxury Travel Guide’s Wine Tour Operator of the Year award for Temecula 2017. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.