Friday, February 20, 2009

New Boise Restaurant: Tucanos

Tucanos Brazilian Grill recently opened in Boise. It's across from Lowe's (to the east) out by Edward's theaters. This is as far from vegan as you can get since the main thrust of a Brazilian restaurant is a wide variety of specially prepared meats on skewers served tableside. I happen to love Brazilian grills though, my all time favorite being Fogo de Chao. Since restaurants are dying off quickly, I wanted to give this one a try before it went away - having just this week realized that Chef Mortimer's new Franco Latino came and went before I even got to eat there.

So we were going out to celebrate this week and I decided to set aside the vegan thing for a day and indulge in meat, meat and more meat. The restaurant atmosphere was not great because the acoustics are awful. The decoration is nice, modern, sort of like a more colorful Cheesecake Factory in some ways, but the ceilings are high and there is a lot of noise and a lot of echo in the building. At times it was literally deafening because they were doing some kind of bongo drum beating and chanting. Whether this was related to birthday celebrations I could not tell but I know this: it was impossible to talk over, and loud enough to give one a headache. This makes it not a great place for dinner conversation, and can be a real problem when trying to hear the servers describe what they are offering on their skewers.

The salad bar is by far the best I have seen in Boise. It offers a wide array of salad fixings, cold salads, vegetables, and even a very decent array of other items like beans, rice, mashed potatoes, delicious little cheese puffs, and the cutest tiny dinner rolls you're likely to ever see. The salad bar also includes soups and fried bananas, along with an array of cold cuts and other items. It's like a huge buffet with fresh and interesting items, and overall it was good. Since you can buy the salad bar separately, if you wanted to eat here as a vegan or vegetarian with a meat loving friend, you could probably pull it off, though it would be hard to ensure anything was vegan without asking a lot of questions.

The meat course was interesting. The menu listed what types of meats and veggies would be coming around, but then they take the menus and you don't have a list so you don't really know what you may be missing. Wait staff comes around bringing you types of meats. The top sirloin and the tri-tip were excellent. I passed on chicken wings and chicken hearts - thinking of my small flock at home. The pork was good, prepared two ways. I skipped the spicy sausage. The whitefish was yucky. I skipped the pineapple in brown sugar and the grilled veggies never made it to our table though I saw them in passing. There were two "bacon wrapped" items but they were not good in that the bacon was just a strip of fat not crisped or browned and therefore, in my view, not edible. The wait staff was nice and they made an effort to keep things coming.

The desserts were interesting but only two were made on site and the others are pre-fab, never as good in my view as fresh. We tried a cheesecake which was not particularly good.

The place was very loud and packed, probably because it is new It is a fun place to try, not sorry I did, but not a good value if you don't eat red meat. If the atmosphere was better it would make a huge difference so maybe on a quieter night it would be great. Overall, interesting and if you like meat, worth a try. I will be interested to see how they do here in Boise long term.

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