Bovino’s Churrascaria Brazilian grill restaurant disaster on a stick in San Antonio’s Shops in La Cantera

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In a video loop played hour after hour on flat screens scattered around the Churrascaria de Bovino, shimmered a land of flamboyant cocktails, armies of wandering gauchos with their steel knives, fat lobster tails, picanha skewers , this sirloin bigwig king of the Brazilian steakhouse experience, rolled up like cinnamon rolls at the carnivore’s bakery.

As I looked back and forth from the video to the knotty pork ribs, tough flank steak, and fun-sized lobster tail on my actual plates, it was like watching a propaganda movie for the experience plus proletarian that we live.

And while I realize that complaining about an all-you-can-eat steakhouse in a candle mall might sound like a dressy version of throwing high chairs into a Viral Golden Corral Video, let me say this: no one was paying $85 a plate at the Golden Corral.

That’s the price of Bovino’s Degustaré experience, an upsell that adds a single serving of seafood to the salad bar buffet’s $55 combo and the endless sadness of that churrascaria’s meat parade that came to La Cantera stores a year ago as an extension of a Mexican chain that caters to resort towns.

Bovino’s Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse at The Shops at La Cantera.

Mike Sutter / Staff

Bovino’s $55 price tag is about the going rate for other much better Brazilian steakhouses in San Antonio. While Bovino surely comes out the loser in a game of death by comparison, he is perfectly capable of losing on his own.

Let’s start with… let’s stop. Wait. Did you just hear a dog barking? No, I mean like INSIDE the restaurant. Yes, it happened. A waiter told me it was too cold to seat people on the dog-friendly terrace, so they let a party bring their dog inside.

I have dogs. I like dogs. But unless they’re on the menu, dogs shouldn’t be in a restaurant. What about assistance dogs, you say? You are right, of course. But unless service dogs ride in strollers these days, that wasn’t it.

Anyway, the salad bar. The promos talk about fine cheeses and charcuterie, sushi and ceviche, salads and paella. On a busy Saturday night, the fine cheeses were cubes of grocery store cheddar and folded salami, and the sushi was a scattering of rice and toppings.

It should have stayed that way. When it was replenished I tried two different sushi rolls and had to take them out of my mouth. Although it looks lousy, the food wasn’t always lousy. A lot of it was pretty. But if you’ve ever used a dating app, you know how it goes.

The all-you-can-eat salad bar includes sushi at Bovino's Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse at The Shops at La Cantera.

The all-you-can-eat salad bar includes sushi at Bovino’s Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse at The Shops at La Cantera.

Mike Sutter / Staff

Time and time again, I had to bail on mid-bite at Bovino: with bubblegum octopus, with charred pork ribs, with overcooked ribeye and undercooked picanha, with rolls of Crushed and greasy cheese and especially with rancid salmon and the only fetid scallop from the Degustaré Seafood Platter.

The salad bar overall offered some of the scattered highlights of this review, including lush beef carpaccio, creamy mashed potatoes, and a paella with octopus, prawns, and mussels that was way better than the putt. Degustaré seafood level. But for every high there was a low, and then some: asparagus with brown specks, a lifeless feijoada stew, corn skewers halfway through carnival, and a weird ceviche with meat too. tough as cafeteria chicken.

All could have been forgiven through the redemption of red meat. But it never came. I wouldn’t go back for any of the nine meats that came to my table on long steel skewers. Not the tenderloin wrapped in saggy bacon, not the lamb chops cooked inside tough and gray, not the greasy smoked sausage disguised as chorizo. The cutters, called gauchos, made no effort to accommodate our requests for rare or medium-rare or otherwise; they just cut whatever was closest to their knives.

The enormous Garota de Ipanema dessert consists of a hollow chocolate scoop filled with ice cream that's melted at the table with a tangy caramel sauce at Bovino's Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse at The Shops at La Cantera.

The enormous Garota de Ipanema dessert consists of a hollow chocolate scoop filled with ice cream that’s melted at the table with a tangy caramel sauce at Bovino’s Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse at The Shops at La Cantera.

Mike Sutter / Staff

I tried to lessen my disappointment with a dessert I saw online, an Instagram-ready production of pouring hot caramel sauce over a hollow ball of chocolate the size of a tetherball to expose the ice cream inside. It was a $25 mistake of second rate globby chocolate and melted institutional ice cream.

All I wanted was steak.

*

15900 La Cantera Parkway, Suite 11200, at The Shops at La Cantera, 210-721-7754, Facebook: @BovinosChurrascariaUSA

Quick Bite: Brazilian-style steakhouse with all-you-can-eat grilled meats and an extensive salad bar

To hit: Paella, beef carpaccio

Miss: Seafood, lamb chops, fraldinha steak, sushi

Hours: 5pm-10pm Tuesday to Thursday; 12pm-10pm Friday-Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday

Price scale: Salad buffet, $35; all-you-can-eat meat with salad buffet, $55; Degustaré option with seafood platter, all-you-can-eat meat and salad buffet, $85; dessert, $8-$25

Alcohol: Cocktails, wine and beer

***** Excellent, an almost perfect experience

**** Good, among the best in town

*** Average, with some notable points

** Poor, with a redemption factor or two

* Bad, nothing to recommend

Express-News food critics pay for all meals.


On one visit, the meat caravan stopped running soon after it started, and nothing else came, no matter how many times I asked or returned my little card from red to green to make it continue.

It was like they decided halfway through that I had had enough. I agree.

[email protected] | Twitter: @fedmanwalking | Instagram: @fedmanwalking

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