Grub Notes

All-You-Can-Eat Brazilian Steakhouse and More Food News

Flama Brazilian Steak House

FLAMA BRAZILIAN STEAK HOUSE (1550 Oglethorpe Ave., 706-850-8299): This new Brazilian steakhouse is owned by the same folks who ran Sabor Latino in the same spot. The interior has changed hardly at all, with the same brightly colored pendant lamps, the same random wall of beer steins, the same generic wrapped canvases on the walls, but now there’s a large salad bar and a place to step up and order sliced meats from the sweet young fella who spends a lot of time misting the air of his rotisseries. 

Like most Brazilian steakhouses, Flama is an all-you-can-eat-meat model, hence the preponderance of trucks in the parking lot. For $25 (lunch) or $30 (dinner), plus whatever drinks you want, you can keep going back to the salad bar and the meat window for as long as you like. In practice, that’s not such a great deal for some of us. Let’s start with the best stuff: Sirloin, common as it is as a cut, and lamb are the tastiest, with beef tenderloin close behind. The brisket has some flavor, but it’s too tough and too dry, something that can be said of most of the offerings: chicken wrapped in bacon (roughly nugget-sized chunks of meat that benefits hardly at all from its fatty, salty accent), pork tenderloin, chicken wings and chicken hearts (credit for offering them at all, cooked to order, and just… fine). If you stick to the first three, maybe adding a pork sausage and some grilled pineapple, you might be fairly happy, but if you’re determined to eat a wide variety of the menu, you may be disappointed. The other major feature of the restaurant is its “salad bar,” which deserves those quotation marks. Sure, there’s a tub of Caesar salad, and you can assemble yourself a plate of greens, but it also features ribs (tough and with a sticky, sweet sauce that feels designed to camouflage rather than accent), steak empanadas (not impressive), feijoada (not much more than black beans, and under flavored), decent pinto beans, mashed potatoes (too loose), white rice, a chicken and chipotle stew that’s worth a second helping, potato salad with peas and carrots, a goopy coleslaw, a pile of pães de queijo (small cheesy rolls, sort of like gougères in France), hunks of French bread, compound butters presented in large water goblets, maduros (sweet plantains), fried yuca, acceptable steak fries and loads of sauce options, including guacamole and chimichurri. Again, you can pick and choose your way to an OK meal, but I’d generally be happier ordering something along the lines of a bandeja paisa in a non-AYCE restaurant, getting the variety and making myself overfull, but with a higher batting average and a lower cost. 

Flama is open 12–9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 12–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12–8 p.m. Sunday.

CAST IRON CREAMERY (35 N. Broad St., in Winder, 470-209-7050): Am I about to encourage you to drive to Winder to get some ice cream? Lord help me, I am. I’ve had Cast Iron Creamery on my list for a while now after hearing it was good, and it turns out it’s more than that. Michael Kakhikina, the owner and founder, worked on the West Coast as a chef after attending the Culinary Institute of America, and he’s got an eye for quality ingredients and a fun sense of how to assemble them. 

There’s vanilla and chocolate, but also strawberry malted, a chai latte ice cream that is impressive and pineapple upside-down cake ice cream that you can also get assembled into an ice cream pie in a cronut-type mish-mash that is delicious. It’s all good. The sorbets are equally impressive, not too sweet, with a beautiful texture and intense flavors. The cucumber-basil tastes like real cucumber and real basil, not like a pale imitation. The mint mojito is lovely and refreshing. The mango tastes like a perfectly ripe fruit. I didn’t even get around to the waffles or the wide array of toppings in apothecary-style big glass jars on shelves behind the ice cream counter: lots of classics like rainbow sprinkles and Oreos, but also pecans, almonds, walnuts, toffee bits, gummy butterflies, coconut and feuilletine (bits of toasted crêpe). Pretty much everything is made in small batches, and the prices aren’t bad ($4.50 per slice of wonderful ice cream pie). Kakhikina’s mom, who runs the shop with him, says they’ve been looking for an Athens location, and it feels like it would be a lovely fit here. 

Cast Iron Creamery is open 1–8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1–9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2–7 p.m. Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).