Fazenda Edinburgh is a Brazilian restaurant, located on George Street. With restaurants in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, Fazenda is a small but steadily growing chain. They also have a sister brand, Picanha, located in Chester. Fazenda’s Sales and Marketing Director, Tomas Maunier, states that “Fazenda Edinburgh is inspired by the kind of restaurant you would find in the top areas of São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. The experience is so versatile it allows everybody to enjoy it in their own way. It’s a very sociable experience in a vibrant atmosphere with quality at its core, offering guests great value for money.”
The really interesting thing about Fazenda is that although it offers fine-dining, it is essentially all-you- can-eat. You start with the “gourmet sides bar” with over 50 dishes to choose from. Despite offering some pretty standard dishes such as salad, potatoes and sauces, this is not your average salad bar. With other dishes such as the Brazilian Feijoada (bean stew with meat), this is a core part of your exotic dining experience.
Despite being informed to expect an “authentic gaucho dining experience”, what I actually end up experiencing is a strangely staged restaurant, set up for press and invite-only guests.
It became apparent after being greeted with two handshakes, a hug and a glass of wine upon arrival that this wasn’t normal service. Sitting at a table with other people from “the press”, most of whom are clearly older than a typical student in the middle of assignments, I begin to feel sceptical about the high price tag of the restaurant’s menu. Between £19.50-£32.50 per person, the likelihood of the average student being able to afford this lavish dining experience seems doubtful. Will it really be worth it when curly fries from Teviot are just £1.95?
Those with real jobs in the press have clearly grown used to the free-food experience and have been careful in their selection of dishes from the gourmet sides bar. Naturally however, I have put everything on my plate and I am determined to eat it all.
After choosing a variety of side dishes, all of the guests take their seats and wait for their green cards on the table to alert the chefs doing rounds that they are ready for meat. The chefs, all dressed in red, don’t disappoint. They stand at the head of the table with a skewer of sizzling meat and explain what they have brought. If you’re happy to try some, then the chef cuts a thin slice for your plate. Sirloin, rump, pork, gammon, chicken, chorizo, you name it, they have it! Once you’re fully satisfied that you’ve tried everything on the menu, you flip the card on the table to red.
Assisted generously through this process by a waitress who continuously tops up everyone’s wine glass, all of the guests begin to feel not only relaxed and settled, but a little tipsy.
As with all staged restaurant experiences, Thomas Maunier , who is also one of the founders of the chain sits at the table with all of the guests, telling wild tales of Argentina and Leeds, for are they really so different? (Yes, yes they are.) When Tomas finds out that I study Sustainable Development, he is quick to explain that by next month there will be no plastic straws and all their napkins will be made of recycled paper. I appreciate the thought, but maybe his New Zealand lamb taking a plane ride is more of an issue right now. Though, honestly, it’s a passing thought as everyone clears their plates.
Despite the whole set up of the evening being a little staged, Fazenda takes a unique and refreshing approach to fine dining, providing its guests with the opportunity to try everything on the menu.
It may be expensive, but for fine dining all-you-can-eat, it’s worth it; trust me, I’m a student.
image: Fazenda Group