Restaurant review: Frevo, Fairmont the Palm

The all-you-can eat churrasco menu in the Brazilian restaurant Frevo in Dubai is big on atmosphere – and on seasoning.
Frevo at Fairmont The Palm in Dubai has a lively ambience. Courtesy: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Frevo at Fairmont The Palm in Dubai has a lively ambience. Courtesy: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Frevo in Fairmont The Palm claims to be “one of the city’s only authentic Brazilian churrascaria experiences”. Love meat as I do, the thought of an endless supply of lamb, beef and chicken was slightly daunting – and I feared the fabled meat-sweats as my guest and I took our seats.

As it happened, I needn’t have fretted, for on our table was a red “stop” button to be pressed at any time during the meal to halt the procession of 14 cuts from the kitchen.

My guest opted to go à la carte and I chose the set menu. However, having not been handed a menu, I presumed one didn’t exist, and was informed I would be having “soup, salad and meat”.

I helped myself to the salad bar and a huge cauldron of beef soup was served to the table. Awkwardly, my companion had not one entrée option and no bread was served to fill the gap.

Packed with potato, carrot and beans, the soup was hearty; had I seen the elusive menu, I would have definitely plumped for the lighter vegetarian option.

My guest’s main course arrived before I had taken two mouthfuls of my starter and there was now not a spare inch of table space. The slow-cooked ribs were tender but the lion’s share went uneaten given their excessive saltiness.

With the soup cleared and green “go” button pressed, the meat arrived at top speed. Before I could even ask for a rare slither, a charred piece of medium topside had been cut for me. Having not been given any obligatory meat tongs to catch it with, I clumsily used my fingers and fork to bring it to my plate. It was to be the tastiest cut of the night, tiny though it was.

Striploin arrived minutes later and while it was beautifully cooked, it was, again, too salty. Next came spicy beef with a hair-raisingly hot and herby crust.

Seconds later, a lamb chop was served, which yielded little pink meat for its impressive size. Another carver appeared momentarily with chicken wrapped in beef bacon. It was time for me to hit the stop button – I was somewhat defeated and struggling to have a conversation with my guest with the conveyor of meat.

To round off the meal my guest and I shared the house churros, served with an unremarkable Nutella sauce, whose runny consistency made eating a messy experience.

In hindsight, one of the biggest problems was a lack of instruction from the staff, though they were disarmingly friendly. The restaurant’s concept was simple but its execution complicated through poor explanation.

Had I known it were possible, I wouldn’t have opted for three beef cuts in a row, but perhaps the Angus Wagyu, garlic-marinated chicken thigh and crispy flank, instead. I might have even asked for a second helping or a side of roasted pineapple, but was I allowed?

It would have also been helpful to know what the many side sauces were, instead of identifying the spicy gaucho, chimichurri and barbecue by trial and error.

Frevo is clearly doing something right given how busy the restaurant was. Perhaps it’s the live music, which made for a convivial atmosphere. It’s just a shame the menu didn’t deliver the Brazilian food festival it promised.

• A meal for two at Frevo, excluding beverages, costs Dh495. For more information, call 04 457 3388. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito

rduane@thenational.ae

Published: May 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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