My mom celebrated her birthday last month and as an extra special treat, we took her for dinner to my favourite meatfest palace, Bolero, a Brazilian steakhouse that is every meat lover’s dream. I fondly remember the first time I ate at Bolero a number of years ago for a friend’s birthday and the resulting meat sweats from consuming copious amounts of various cuts of beef and chicken. It was so worth it, but sadly I hadn’t found a reason to go back until I was brainstorming where we could have dinner that was both a new experience for my parents and easy to adapt for our low-carb lifestyle. I mean, how can you go wrong at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse? It’s a low-carber’s dream!
Bolero is located off Macleod Trail, just past Chinook Centre. It’s awkward to get into the parking lot traveling southbound on Macleod (we did a “probable” illegal U-turn at the closest intersection), so going northbound is the easiest. Even though our reservation was early (5:45pm), the parking lot was already packed and it took us a few minutes to find a spot. Bolero also shares a space with Open Sesame, Tango Bistro, and Smuggler’s Inn, so that might explain the lack of parking spots.
For an early dining hour, the place was already bustling with diners. The place has kind of a rustic cabin feel to it with its large fireplace near the middle of the dining area. It’s also got a large bar that reminds me of old school classy hotel bars. We were seated in a comfortable and roomy booth near the back, a perfect spot for enjoying a quiet dinner.
There’s three dining options for dinner – the “full rodizio”, which is the full-meal deal that includes unlimited access to their fresco bar (with various hot dishes, salads, and sides), the “teaser platter” which includes the fresco bar and a platter of meats of your choice, or just the fresco bar without the meats (on a side note, who picks this last option at a Brazilian steakhouse?). We opted for the full rodizio, naturally, since this was a special occasion and all.
Our friendly server came by, brought us drinks, and gave us some quick instructions on how the evening would work. Each table gets their own “cue” to signal to the gauchos green for YES PLEASE BRING ALL THE MEATS, yellow for WE NEED A MEAT BREAK, and red for PLEASE STAHP I GOTS THE MEAT SWEATS. When that cue is on green, those gauchos come in fast and furious. A few times during our meal, we had to turn it yellow because we couldn’t keep up with all the meats that were being brought to us.
They also brought us complimentary gluten-free Brazilian-style cheese bread, along with a couple of sauces (chimichurri and roasted red pepper) to enjoy with our meal. We naturally skipped the cheese bread, but my parents indulged. My mom remarked that they must be made with rice flour because of the texture (similar to Korean rice cakes).
We started at the fresco bar, which had a few really great low-carb options. I went with some beef stew, fish, chopped egg, and veggies. The danger of having that fresco bar is filling the stomach with too much additional food besides the meat. I only made one trip to the fresco bar to keep my stomach free for the meats.
Here’s a little sample of what we were offered. Pictured are the Linguica (a sausage made with smoked paprika), which was beautifully smoky and spicy, with a wonderful tender texture, and a Chicken Leg seasoned with cajun spices, which was actually a chicken wing (flavour was great though).
The other meats we tried were the Picanha (classic Brazilian cut of top sirloin with sea salt), Fraldinha (traditional Brazilian cut of bottom sirloin with garlic and parmesan), Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon (need I say more?), plain Filet Mignon, Bacon Wrapped Chicken (HECK YES), Parmesan Crusted Pork Loin (with garlic and parmesan cheese), Baby Back Ribs (glazed with house made BBQ sauce – only for the parents since we are avoiding sugar), Chicken Legs (mislabeled, since they were chicken drumsticks but it’s all good), and Habanero Pork Loin. My favourites were the meats wrapped in bacon, because you can’t go wrong there, the sausage, and the Habanero pork loin. I found some of the beef tough and chewy, but that might’ve been due to the cut. Otherwise, the beef was all done to a perfect medium-ish temperature. My parents had a few slices of their famous Caramelized Pineapple (cinnamon and brown sugar), which really is one of the highlights of having a meal at Bolero but sadly we don’t eat fruits anymore. We just admired from afar. Damn did it ever look and smell delightful, though.
It’s not a proper buffet until your stomach wants to explode, and that’s exactly how we all felt by the end of the meal. It’s a little bit pricey per person ($42.50), but I think for the variety of food and all the different types of meat they have to offer, it’s a great treat once in a while. We had great service throughout the night and overall it was an enjoyable experience. We ended up only staying for about an hour, which was a pretty short stay on average (typical seatings are for 2-hours).
Afterwards, we headed over to our place and presented this gorgeous cake by Yann Haute Patisserie, their Fraisier/Tutti Frutti (Pain de gene, vanilla mousseline & fresh seasonal fruits), for my parents to enjoy, while Mark and I had a piece each of low-carb pumpkin cake leftover from Thanksgiving. My mom thoroughly enjoyed this cake – she said it was light, moist and not to sweet, just the way she likes it. I think she also had it for breakfast the next day (that’s the mark of an excellent cake).
6920 MacLeod Trail SE
Calgary, AB T2H0L3
Phone: (403) 259-3119
Yann Haute Patisserie
329 23 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2S0J3
Phone: (403) 244-8091