We tried the first Brazilian steakhouse to open in Des Moines. Here's what we discovered
Here’s a sneak peek of the new Brazilian churrasco dining experience on Ingersoll Ave. in Des Moines, offering a churrasco dining experience. The Des Moines Register
A map of Brazil, back-lit with a cool blue hue, greets hungry diners on the way into this new Brazilian steakhouse in Des Moines. It's the first of its kind in a city with a culinary scene and population that is growing more diverse as time progresses.
But time seems to slow down in this modern, comfortable space with large tables. There's plenty of room to move around in the dining area that seats 80 people with an additional 20 in a private party room.
BAH Brazilian Steakhouse opened Wednesday at 2301 Ingersoll Ave. in Des Moines, and it's the first of its kind to bring an unhurried, yet straightforward, Brazilian family-style dining experience to the metro.
"We wanted people to be comfortable and stay longer, with larger tables and a better, more comfortable use of space," said owner Fabricio Floriani, 39.
Floriani and his wife, Monique, 29, live in Ankeny with their 8-month-old daughter. "We did not want to have people squeezed in, and we pace our staff to not go so quickly. We want people to relax and enjoy."
The churrasco dining experience
As you are seated, you are given a card to keep placed on the table. The green side indicates to the nonstop parade of gauchos — South American cowboys — that you are ready to be approached with a rotation of around 15 cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, homemade Brazilian linguiça sausage and other seasonal cuts to your table including:
- Picanha - Sirloin cap
- Vazio - Flap steak
- Filet mignon
- Beef ancho - Ribeye cut
- Maminha - Tri-tip
- Costela - Beef short ribs
- Costela de porco - Pork ribs
- Lombo de porco - Pork loin
- Medalhao de porco com bacon - Bacon-wrapped pork
- Linguiça - Brazilian/Portuguese pork sausage
- Frango - Chicken drumsticks and breast
- Cordeiro - Lamb chops and leg of lamb
- Other seasonal cuts of meat
The gauchos then de-skewer, slice or chop the meats cooked over wood charcoal tableside. Tongs are provided so you can help the gauchos deliver the meat to your plate for larger cuts like roasts and rib racks. The churrasco dinner is $42.
Servers provide beverage and menu service.
Floriani said most meats come from Iowa, with the exception of the leg of lamb, which comes from Australia, and lamb chops, sourced from New Zealand.
Be sure to bookmark these frequently-updated dining guides:
- Everywhere to eat and drink on Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines
- Where to eat in downtown Des Moines
- The essential East Village dining guide
- The ultimate list of local Ankeny restaurants
To take a break, simply flip the card over to its red side.
Each churrasco dining experience includes an unlimited salad bar and Brazilian side dishes like warm Brazilian cheese bread and fried polenta and bananas, and soups.
"In Brazil, we make food for family and friends and everyone cooks for hours," Floriani said of his upbringing in Lages and Caxias do Sul in the southern tip of Brazil. "You start in the morning and everyone can be a part of cooking for the buffet."
Floriani, an engineer by trade, started helping his uncle barbecue meats when he was 14. He worked his way through college in restaurants, making his way through the restaurant ranks in London in 2000, honing his fine dining skills at Hilton properties. He was hired by John Deere in 2005, which brought him to Des Moines in 2012.
Fish and salad
For non-meat eaters, there are plenty of options available. The seasonal all-you-can-eat salad bar includes plenty of marinated and dressed vegetables, cheeses, cold cuts, smoked salmon, pasta salads and slaw ($24).
Hot side dishes include rice, collard greens and beans. And look for traditional Brazilian items like feijoada — a hot bean and meat stew — and farofa, a breadcrumb-like dish made from cassava that can be sprinkled on meats and stews to accentuate their flavor.
Another option is to go for a fish dinner ($38). These entrée selections include the salad bar and Brazilian sides:
- Almond-crusted halibut with a creamy Parmesan polenta and roasted asparagus.
- Pan-seared blackened salmon with creamy Parmesan polenta and roasted baby carrots.
Floriani's leadership team includes general manager Jonas Basso, who also hails from Brazil, executive chef Phillip Shade, who leads the kitchen, and assistant manager Keely Wiegert.
Signature cocktails, tapas and share plates are served in the lounge, as gaucho service is not available in this area of the restaurant. But the menu features plenty of satisfying options:
- Shredded beef short rib sliders - served with a Japanese citrus aïoli slaw
- Linguiça - served with polenta fries
- Coxhina - savory deep-fried, panko-breaded pastries with a creamy chicken filling
- Cilantro lime salad - mixed greens, mandarin oranges and candied walnuts with a cilantro-lime dressing
- Assorted pastels - Filled empanadas in a variety of fillings and presentations
- Wagyu outer skirt steak - served with aipim frito (yuca fries)
- Picanha com polenta - Cap sirloin with polenta fries
Most tapas and share plate options are around $12 each.
BAH cocktails are Brazil-focused with the caipirinha as the centerpiece, a cocktail made with premium aged cachaça — a fermented sugar cane spirit — with fresh muddled limes and cane sugar. And a Caipifruta cocktail is available with muddled seasonal fruit. Most cocktails are around $11.
But other creative fruity drinks make the menu:
- BAH-tini, with coconut water, pineapple juice, guava, cachaça and dry curacao.
- Gaucho Spirit, featuring cachaça, gin, vodka, pineapple juice, basil and Guaraná Antartica — a Brazilian soft drink made from a fruit from the Amazon rainforest.
South American wine varietals take a prominent place on the list, of course, including Malbec, merlot, Carmenere, rose, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc from Chile and Argentina. American reds and European reds and whites are imported from Spain and Italy.
Most selections from the list of about 50 bottles are also available by the glass (average price is $9 by the glass or $30 per bottle).
Local, domestic and import beers are available by the bottle, including Xingu Black Brazilian beer. Beer on draft in 16-ounce pours includes local Exile Brewing's Ruthie, Bud Light, Blue Moon and Stella Artois. Prices for beer average $6 for bottle or draft.
Non-alcoholic beverages include Coke products, coffee, tea, freshly-squeezed orange juice and Guaraná Antartica sodas.
You can top off dinner with a traditional Brazilian dessert or go the American route:
- Pudim de leite - Brazilian flan
- Brigadeiro - A thick, pudding-like Brazilian fudge dessert
- Papaia com cassis - Papaya mousse with cassis
- Mousse de maracujá - Passionfruit mousse
- New York-style cheesecake
- Ice cream
Most desserts are $9.
BAH Brazilian Steakhouse
Location: 2301 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 to 11 p.m.; closed Sundays.