Em Chamas 18

More than just meat

A decade is a long time in the restaurant business–long enough to know how to do things right. That can certainly be said for Em Chamas Brazillian Grill, the Northland’s own destination for perfectly cooked Brazilian barbecue. The passion project of brothers Sam and Nick Silvio, Em Chamas has set the standard for tableside rodizio service since 2007.

Most are familiar with the concept–Em Chamas offers 12-16 different cuts of meat, featuring beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. Their beef is 30-day aged certified Angus beef, so quality starts before the skewers ever hit the rotisserie. Once they do, all proteins are cooked to perfection and served tableside, cut to order. Along with the hot and cold bar, the rodizio service is their trademark and a must for any meat lover.

But what happens when you don’t want a huge meal? I mean, sure, you could stop after one portion of top sirloin stuffed with Provolone cheese, but why? So when you want a taste but not the full smorgasbord, there is a solution: head to the Inferno lounge.

The lounge at Em Chamas is a hidden gem. The cozy area features live music on certain nights and a fantastic happy hour, and its own menu, one that features both favorites from the Rodizio menu and unique dishes, served tapas-style.

I visited the lounge on a recent Thursday night, as a solo acoustic guitarist plucked his way through vintage pop hits. The lounge filled slowly with after work revelers and small families, lured in by great prices and no need for stretchy pants.

The lounge menu has a few standout dishes that you wouldn’t expect. The first was the blackened salmon($12). Served on a bed of wilted spinach studded with sauteed garlic, and topped with pineapple salsa, the fish was perfectly cooked and moderately seasoned–even someone fairly spice-averse would enjoy it. Shared, the portion was a nice appetizer but if ordered for one, it would make for a great light dinner along with a glass of Argentinian wine.

For those that like a more fiery dinner, the Boneless Spicy Chicken Thighs ($6) are perfect. Two thighs are given the rotisserie treatment after 48 hours in a marinade. The finishing touch though is the signature passion fruit habanero sauce. The sauce truly makes the dish. The subtle heat warms up after time but by the time it kicks in, you’re halfway through another tender, juicy bite.

If you’re looking for a heartier choice, try the Brazilian Cheese Steak Sliders ($12). Far from the Philadelphia version, this is really a great use of one of their rodizio selections–the Fraldinha or sirloin steak. The steak is thinly shaved and topped with caramelized onion, provolone cheese and topped with a savory chimichurri sauce on a crispy baguette. Along with a pile of impossibly thin and crispy house potato chips, this sandwich will satisfy even the heartiest appetite.

For those that need salad but don’t want to be too virtuous, the Caprese ($8) is a great choice. Cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella lounge in a basil pesto sauce with a drizzle of balsamic gastrique. It’s simple but tasty.

And if you find that you miss the traditional flavors of the rodizio, then you can choose cuts of your favorites to order a la carte. Add a side of the meaty feijoada (black beans stewed with pork) and rice and you’ll have a perfectly sized dinner without the need for a nap afterwards.

The lounge is also a great place to check out the extensive Caipirinha list, featuring the original (cachaca, lime, and sugar), as well as fruit versions (I prefer the passion fruit) and riffs on the cocktail using different spirits such as sake, vodka, and even limoncello. If lime and sugar aren’t your thing, then the Em-tinis list will catch your fancy. Don’t worry beer drinkers, you have plenty of choices, both local and Brazilian.

There’s nothing like a completely indulgent meal like the Rodizio experience but sometimes it’s nice to be able to pop in, have a few nibbles, sip a cocktail and enjoy a little music. So if you’re feeling like a visit to Brazil but can’t afford the trip, head to Em Chamas. No matter what your appetite, they are sure to please.