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Plataforma Churrascaria

Yes, it's true. Nothing says I Love You like meat, meat and more meat. I did find Churracaria Plataforma to be a mildly odd Valentine's dining choice. But I wasn't disappointed, I had wanted to try the place and I've never gone in for any of that oysters, champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries, intimate dining nonsense. This un-subtle choice actually kind of made me feel relieved. Stuffing yourself silly on the most romantic of holidays is a brilliant idea, if you ask me.

I'd been to Riodizio, which didn't even have a salad bar so I was pretty excited about Plataforma (even though I know you're not supposed to fill up on the side dishes). This is sort of the king of NYC rodizios, at least in price and popularity. The salad bar is enormous with selections like sushi (strange for a Brazilian place, though I hear there's a large Japanese population in the country), hearts of palm, a handful of different seafood concoctions, green salad, shrimp, vegetables and loads loads more.

Then once you're done with that course, the games begin. You flip your coaster from red to the green side and the meat starts filling your plate–like five different beef preparations, chicken, sausages, salmon, pork loin, ribs, etc. On top of this, they bring side dishes to the table to accompany the meat: rice, fried plantains, polenta, asparagus, mashed potatoes and this confusing one I never figured out–it looked and tasted like a large plate of bread crumbs with bacon mixed in. What the heck do you do with that?! (I've since learned that it's farofa, toasted manioc flour that should be sprinkled over anything soupy).

Of course I couldn't resist a piece of coconut caramel cake and a glass of dessert wine (stiff caipirinhas were already sipped with dinner) to round things out.

I was interested in seeing what sort of crowd Plataforma would draw on Valentine's Day. It was a melting pot really. We had some pouty Eastern European girl on our left who shared three heaping plates of salad with her date and then not surpringly ate little else when it was time for the meat. Sheesh, what's the point.

Originally on my right, was this freaky, frumpy couple. The guy never took his stocking cap off, the girl was all stringy-haired, they barely exchanged a word. I could see them getting excited about the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie and sitting around engrossed with their Playstation or hanging out in Xena chatrooms.

They were replaced with a livelier couple, though I can barely remember the woman since I was too busy checking out the guy's sparkling diamond earring and glistening jheri curl (to be honest, it wasn't a full blown jheri curl, but that's how I like to remember it).

The couple I was most fixated on were the little hipsters sitting behind James. Didn't they have someplace cooler to go? I mean, Plataforma verges on carnival-like (and the contorting piano player was charmingly grotesque), but it's not really campy enough to go just for shits and giggles. The girl looked like she was in grade school and had the ten-year-old-boy Williamsburg body to finish the look. The guy was a bit older and was wearing a muscle tee (so hard for guys to pull of that '80s retro look) with a green Space Invaders-like character on front, had a giant funky, rectangular, flat-screened watch, compact futuristic Sony camcorder, horn rim glasses and lots of shopping bags. He was all Mr. Gadget/internet millionaire chic. So gross. What really irked me was the way the girl let her chocolate mousse just sit in front of her for like 15 minutes without touching it. I was this close to going over and eating it for her.

A night to remember? In a way. The food did me right, but I ended up having a bit of trouble with my tights falling down in Time's Square on the way home. But that's a whole other sad story.

Churrascaria Plataforma * 316 W. 49th, New York, NY

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