Rodizio Rico, The Cube, Commercial Street, B1 1RS, Tel: 0121 285 2856 www.rodiziorico.com

“Don't go mad at the buffet and go easy on the carbs. Remember you’ve come here for the meat.”

Setting out the rules is my friend and dinner date, Dane, a seasoned diner at Brazilian barbecue restaurant Rodizio Rico.

His words of wisdom hint at the essence of this place – it’s an upmarket all-you-can-eat.

We are seated in the window with a rather lovely view over the canal from The Cube and order a pair of Brahmas at a whopping £4.70 per pint.

“We have given you the best seats in the house,” beams a likeable Romanian waiter before giving us the run down on how the restaurant works.

Rodizio Rico is among a series of south American chain restaurants, including Bem Brasil and Viva Brazil, whose focus is barbecued meat in the style of a Brazilian churrascaria.

A team of waiters (all men) dressed in black sweep the restaurant, each carrying a giant skewer spiking a different meaty morsel.

They present the meat at each table in turn before carving off a chunk which is snapped up by a set of tong’s given to each diner.

First, the waiter directs us to a baffling buffet sitting on top of a wooden boat-shaped structure.

A team of waiters at Rodizio Rico sweep the restaurant, each carrying a giant skewer.
A team of waiters at Rodizio Rico sweep the restaurant, each carrying a giant skewer.
 

It’s a mish-mash of mediocre food from around the world with a version of arancini, moussaka, beans, rice, olives, diced peppers in vinaigrette, a beef stew, breadcrumbed and deep fried tilapia, rosemary potatoes, garlic bread and a sort of Polish-style pickled veg mix.

The labels for the deep fried banana and potato croquette have been mixed up adding a Russian roulette twist to this schizophrenic smorgasbord.

Our strategy is to try a little – just a little – of each different meat so we can contrast and compare and hopefully, in a parade of a dozen contenders, find something spectacular.

Since my guide’s last visit they’ve dispensed of the green/red cards given to diners to beckon or banish the waiters.

By all accounts the cards didn’t work anyway and tonight the staff just keep coming in a constant stream that becomes a bit bothersome when you’ve been offered chicken hearts three times in 10 minutes.

The first waiter (or “passadore” as a traditional churrascaria would have it) brandishes a skewer stacked with chicken wings.

The second, a sausage so heavily flavoured with garlic it’s hard to taste anything else.

The third, simply “beef”.

Within a minute another waiter appears, with another cut of “beef”.

“What kind of beef is it?” I ask.

“Beef” he says to my blank face, “BEEF!”.

I shut up and take the portion.

It’s followed by rump, gammon, topside, leg of lamb, “pork”, ribs, a stack of chicken hearts (which have a texture between overcooked beans and tough kidney), beef neck smothered with chillies and beef kebab.

With more than 13 meats in the procession the strategy of trying a small sample of each soon becomes impractical.

We use our best miming skills to stress to the waiters with limited English that we want just a tiny sliver but each time they generously bestow on us another nauseating clod.

After sampling five meats half my plate is littered with cast-offs.

After nibbles of 12, it’s a heap of bones, fat and uneaten, unwanted meat that looks and feels a little obscene.

You don’t often get the chance to pit different parts of an animal against each other in one sitting, and the meat geek in me was excited by the idea of comparing topside with rump.

But honestly, I’m not convinced this meat is of high enough quality to stand up to any kind of taste test and the utter disappointment of the pork ribs made me long to be at Rib Nights (a pop-up barbecue event taking place at various venues across the city) where the meat really is the main event.

There are highlights to be had, when yet another cut arrives at the table, but this time straight from the grill so we get a red hot portion souped up by a charred and caramelised outer layer. But it’s the luck of the draw which tables get the outside cuts and even these leave me wanting no more than a nibble.

After sampling 12 meats from Rodizio Rico my plate is littered with cast offs and feels a little obscene.
After sampling 12 meats from Rodizio Rico my plate is littered with cast offs and feels a little obscene.
 

Happily tucking into an extra helping of gammon, Dane, with a stomach of steel, asks: “What do you want more of?”

The honest answer: “Nothing.”

My mouth is cloying with grease.

I don’t want to give the Brazilians a bashing (God knows they’ve suffered enough lately) but let’s be honest about what this place does well – and what it doesn’t.

It’s a good looking restaurant with geometric black and white floor tiles, warm wooden ceiling and great views over the water.

Most of the staff, despite limited English, will go out of their way to make you feel at home. And they make a mean caipirinha.

It’s a Thursday night and the restaurant is full, mostly with young diners (I guess the oldies know better) who are clearly having a whale of a time.

They’re not here for the food. They’re here for the theatre. And there’s enough of that to keep them entertained.

It’s not cheap at £25-a-head for the all-you-can-eat meat and bonkers buffet.

If you want to pay that much for novelty value this is a good place to come. If you want good food for your money, it’s really not.

Food: 2.5/10

Service: 7/10

Atmosphere: 7/10