An anonymous reader took the time to write a pretty detailed comment on Souza's. Their review differs from mine, however it's well written and detailed so it deserves it's own post.
Here's My Two Cents:
Dine Date: Wednesday, Feb 20th, 2008.
Dine Time: 7:30-9:00PM
Number in Party: 2
Reservations: Highly Recommended
Bar: Yes/Full but Limited
I recently had the opportunity to dine a Sousza’s Authentic Rodizio Style Brazilian BBQ. This was the second time I have dined at Souza’s. The previous visit was in July 2008 for a lunch meeting. During my first visit I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, salad bar and the limited skewer selection. The positive experience prompted the desire to try the full selection at dinner.
My Recent Experience:
I called around 2pm to confirm that Souza’s would be open. I received a warm and welcomed response that offered to take my reservation. I reserved a table for two for 7:30 PM. I would highly recommend making reservations.
Upon arrival a few minutes before 7:30 I could see they were extremely busy. There were two or three four-top tables available. They made room by separating a center isle six-top table into a 2 and 4-top. This method provided a table that was really part of another dining party. Considering the fact that they were so busy and things smelled so good, I was fine with this seating. After being seated we waited around 10 minutes for the server/hostess to return to provide instructions on the Brazilian dining method and take our drink order. All non-alcoholic drinks are inclusive in the $36.95 dinner price. I noticed there were no red/green, “stop or keep it coming”, signs for the tables. These signs are traditional at Brazilian BBQ and were present on my previous visit. We were told that we would start with a soup and that we could help our selves to the salad bar. I noticed rolls on all the tables and asked for a small basket. I was told that they were currently out of rolls but would bring some when they came out of the oven. Note: I was told this on my first visit; the rolls came at the end of that meal and were frozen in the middle. Rolls never came during this dinner visit.
We ordered non-alcoholic drinks and were served very promptly. They were free refills. They do have a limited full bar with top shelve liquors. The bartender that also assisted in the dining room was very polite and I noted that he made a specialty drinks for others that were dining. The liquors although at a table in the salad bar area are not self-serve.
The soup must have been a Brazilian style soup. It was a warm soup and seemed to be a mushroom and/or bean based. It was served in a large shot class and was pasty. I did enjoy the flavor.
The salad bar contained a selection which included many canned items as well as original Brazilian items. Some of the “original” items were canned items that had been kicked up a notch. Mozzarella with spices, a pasty ham salad spread, a couple coleslaw type of dishes. They did have medium size shrimp and calamari salad. The cocktail sauce was very weak. They had four or five hot dishes, two of which were empty. One of which was broth like and very good and a creamed shrimp based dish as well as a noodle dish that contain 4 or 5 noodles.
Positives: Fresh lettuce that was crisp and clean and hot sauce selection, the authentic dishes that were there were very good.
Negatives: Too many canned items to the ratio of authentic items. No fruit here or on the desert bar except bananas.
If you can do without shrimp and calamari salad the Windjammer Salad Bar is a better value and selection minus the hot sauce selection.
BBQ Skewers and Main Course Experience:
We had to wait around 20 minutes while the Gaucho delivered numerous skewers of what looked like great tasting meats. The family next to us were leaving uneaten meat on their plates, which when being hungry, and not being addressed by the Gaucho made our bellies growl. While dining I noticed a gentleman dining alone. He was watching and waiting as well. When the gaucho finally made it to our table he had one piece of bacon wrapped filet left for two people. We decided to split the piece. It was tasty, but a bit salty as I would come to learn is the standard spice for most of the skewers with the exception of the cinnamon roasted pineapple. The filet tasted more like sirloin than a filet that should melt in your mouth. The gentleman dining alone seems upset that he missed out on the filet.
Next up from the gaucho was hot or sweet sausage, not bad for sausage, but if all I wanted was sausage I would have held out for the Champlain Valley Fair. Then we sampled some roasted chicken which was dry and over cooked. We also sampled some other type of chicken. The Gaucho then dropped off a few Chicken hearts. At this point I assumed the owner/cook was trying to use the entire chicken and feared skewers of feathers would arrive next. Please note that the nice looking meats had not yet made it our way, but were being delivered to other patrons. I fully understand that these types of restaurants start with the lower quality of meats first. I had only hoped we would see some juice flavorful meats at some point. Next up were ribs with little meat, roasted pineapple with cinnamon, and bacon wrapped sirloin you couldn’t chew. The “sirloin was fatty and veiny. Clearly this wasn’t even the grizzle that had been cut off the piece of sirloin. First, filet that tasted like sirloin and now sirloin that tasted like a salty tire. Then we tried the lamb, which was decent but was followed by turkey wrapped in undercooked maple bacon. Finally the gaucho came out with what looked like would be homerun, the house special roast beef. The gaucho made his way around the dining room and finally stopped at our table. The gentleman that had been dining alone had left after looking very upset never getting to taste the house special. Although it was clearly the best meat served, the gentleman missed very little. It tasted like pot roast beef. We never saw some of the meats that other tables sampled.
Positives: The gaucho acknowledged the poor selection and service due to the unexpected busy evening.
Negatives: All the meats had the same spice, didn’t get to sample all at skewers, never saw seafood skewers or roasted vegetables.
Bananas, peanut butter or an upside down cake were the options. They had some fruit, but then I realized it was plastic or wax. Deep fired bananas would have been a great option.
I have a feeling that the Sousza’s could do better and may have a better selection on Friday’s and Saturday’s when they expect a larger volume. At $37 a head I doubt that I’ll give them another chance. At $37 they should plan on delivering a fine dining experience regardless of their volume. I’d like to note that service from the waitress/host, bartender and gaucho were good and our tip reflected the professionalism and courtesy that they showed. The food however never delivered and most meats were tough and used the same spice.
A Real Brazilian Restaurant:
If you are ever traveling in the Irvine, California area I would recommend Agora Churrascaria.http://www.agorachurrascaria.com/