While in New York for the 131st Audio Engineering Society convention, Nicholas Debard, who heads Focal Loudspeakers professional sound division, invited our group, as well as some others out for dinner to Churrascaria Plataforma, a Brazilian steakhouse located on W. 49th St. in Midtown Manhattan (see map). Brazilian steakhouses are always fun, so we took a brisk walk up 8th Ave. and then a left on 49th St. to the front door of Churrascaria Plataforma about halfway between 8th and 9th.
Plataforma, as it's known to the locals, has been in existence since 1996 becoming one of the first Brazilian rodizio (all-you-can-eat) style steakhouses in the city. It's very similar to any of the other Brazilian steakhouses that I've been to - they have a large salad bar that they entice you to gorge yourself on so you won't have room to eat the skewers upon skewers of barbecued beef, lamb, pork, sausages, chicken and turkey they keep bringing to your table. And like the others, Plataforma (which means platform in Portuguese - not quite sure the relevance between a steakhouse and a platform) has a fixed price per person for the meal. They charge a flat rate of $50 bucks per head, so it's best NOT to load up on the salad bar beforehand.
Nicholas had invited a large group that included the five guys from my company working the AES show, Brian from Lauten Audio (makers of top quality microphones), Jurg from Vovox Cables (makers of high quality cables for guitars, microphones and power cables), a couple of guys who ran pro music stores in France who were there for the show, as well as a couple of importer/distributors - one from Indonesia, the other was, I believe, from China. And he also invited Fab Dupont, the owner of Flux Studios in Manhattan and a large supporter of Focal Professional loudspeakers, and his girlfriend, who was celebrating her birthday that evening.
We had walked into the somewhat boisterous and loud restaurant and on a small platform (maybe that's the platform connection) near the center of the dining room was a Brazilian jazz combo playing music. While it wasn't ear shattering, it was still loud enough that caused my colleague Todd to wonder if we'd be able to hear conversation at the table. But to our relief, the hostess guided us into a lower level room, smaller and much quieter than the main dining area. The only problem all night was the rather loud 20-something girl at the table next to us who had this whiny, nasally voice that reminded my colleague Ian and I of the actress Fran Drescher. Ian said, "If I was married to that voice, I'd smother her with a pillow while she slept."
My boss, Daniel, had the honors of picking out wines and he ordered up two reds - a Primogenito Malbec blend from Argentina, and another red South American wine that I didn't bother to look at. That's because the Primogenito was so robust in taste that it completely eclipsed the other red on the table. The Primogenito Malbec was so complex and full-bodied, yet it went extremely well with the meal that we had. Everyone sort of forgot about the other red and more bottles of the Primogenito were brought to the table. It suddenly became a "must find" on my list of wines.
Like other Brazilian steakhouses, the salad bar at Plataforma is huge and full of diverse items such as sushi, red beets, peppadew sweet peppers, cheeses, mixed salad greens, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers - all of which I got while going through the line. Given that I'd eaten a large steak the night before at Cooper's Tavern, I thought a lot of greens and veggies would be good to have. But, as always, I end up eating the salad, then can never say no to the skewers of beef that they bring out.
After the salad, the little disc in front of me was turned over from red to green signifying that the meat fest was on. And was it ever - they first brought out their signature sirloin on a skewer, cutting off chunks of medium rare to medium cooked beef for me to grab with the little metal tongs. After I passed on the lamb and turkey filet, I tried the bacon wrapped chunks of chicken breast. The chicken was woefully overcooked and somewhat dried out. OK, no more chicken.
Beef ribs, prime rib, beef tenderloin filet and more of the sirloin made it to my plate, but all were somewhat to very overcooked. The meat was good, but we all thought they could have taken it off the grill a little more quickly. At right is my colleague Ian trying to cut through some of the overcooked meat he had on his plate.
The head waiter came over and asked us if we needed anything and Ian said, "Yes! Beef this is more medium-rare, not medium-well. And do you have garlic beef?"
The head waiter said, "Garlic beef? Absolutely, sir! We'll bring some out to you right away."
The garlic sirloin did come out and it wasn't all that great. It, too, was overcooked and only had a hint of garlic in the beef. Actually, the best garlic beef we've ever had at a Brazilian steakhouse was out in Denver at the Rodizio Grill. It was like they injected the sirloin with with liquid garlic as each bite was permeated with a thick garlic taste. That was out of this world. The garlic sirloin at Plataforma was sort of "eh!" I could take it or leave it.
They did bring more rare cooked beef, but by that time I was full. We did have some dessert - I shared a New York cheesecake with a couple other people (hey, when in New York...). It was OK, but I was too stuffed to enjoy the cheesecake to any extent.
Walking back to the hotel, Ian and I both remarked that Churrascaria Plataforma was definitely not the best Brazilian steakhouse that we've eaten at. The highlight of the meal was the great Primogenito Malbec blend. "It just walked all over that other red we had," Ian said. Nearly all the meat I had was overcooked at Plataforma, and a couple pieces I had I couldn't finish as they cooked the life out of the meat. Brazilian steakhouses are still fun, but when the food isn't that great then it takes the fun out of it. Maybe we got Plataforma on a bad night as the place was packed and it's been in business for 15 years. But I have to believe there's gotta be better Brazilian steakhouses in Manhattan.