Chima is one of those places where you can't go too often; not just because of the price, but because the volume of food you'll be eating should be reserved for a special occasion. Like when your team wins the Super Bowl and you want to inflict additional pain on a disappointed friend.
When you get to Chima, you'll find no parking lot. While it's in a more remote location on Las Olas, all of the spots that would be available are allocated for a Valet. Valet parking is $3, so figure $5 with a tip. There are also a handful of metered spots on the street that are usually available until 6 or 6:30, which can save you a few dollars as you don't have to tip the meter. But note that there's a 2 hour limit on the meter ($1.25/hour), and dinner here can easily take more than 2 hours.jump-->
The entrance is quite charming; a large area with fountains and designer plastic chairs and flame bearing lamps. The restaurant is set in the rear, far enough from the street to leave the noise behind. There's an outdoor area which is quite nice; they have live music on weekends. You can sit and enjoy the evening air and watch the kitchen through a large window.
They have a pretty nice bar here; The Patriots Fan was running late so I ordered a glass of house cabernet. House wines and well drinks are 1/2 price until 7pm. The last time I was here they gave you some cheese breads and dip, but now they just give you some mixed nuts. With the price of nuts lately, I can't really complain about that. The restaurant starts serving at 5:30, while the bar opens 1/2 hour earlier.
While they have 4 TVs, there's nothing on that an American would want to watch. Soccer, some sort of soap Opera. There's some sort of latin salsa music playing.
The Patriots Fan and his brother arrived at about 6:45 so I offered to buy a round in the bar to get happy hour prices; the happy hour is only in the bar. A chardonnay and a vodka drink was ordered. When I got the tab, they'd charged me for a Grey Goose. When I asked the server if they usually give Grey Goose when someone doesn't ask for it during happy hour, he mumbled something without making eye contact. There was something dishonest about it. They took it off and charged me the happy hour price.
If you don't know about Chima; it's a Brazilian Rodizio; one of those places where you pay a fixed price and you get a salad/appetizers bar and then they bring around meats. The price here is $49.50 for the full ride. You can get the salad bar for $29.50, but I don't see how that would be worth the price. >
The dining room itself is very nice, with cherrywood and blacks, and nice artwork on the walls. It's not a very bright place; bright enough to eat but not bright enough to get really good pictures.
If you've never been to one of these places, the way it works is that they give you a chip; in most places it's green on one side and red on the other. Green means that you're ready for Meat. Red tells the servers that you're done or taking a break. At Chima, the chip is orange and black to keep with their color scheme; orange means "Yes", give me some meat.
You start off by loading up at the salad bar; a mistake made by inexperienced Rodiziers is to eat so much food from the salad bar that they don't have enough appetite left for the meats. So if you're here for the meat, take it easy on the salad bar. There's a lot of good stuff; I got ceasar salad, broccoli, asparagus, calamari salad, fresh mozzarella, beef carpaccio and prosciutto.
While we were chowing down, they dropped off some cheese bread and dip; the same stuff that they used to give you in the bar. They also dropped off some fried bananas; not my thing but the Patriots Fans loved them.
Beyond the peripheral stuff, Chima is about the Meat. When your chip is on Orange, the servers come by one after another with meat on skewers. They have the grills set up so that depending where the meat is skewered; some of it is rare, medium rare and medium well, so you can get it how you like it. They give you big tweezers that you use to grab the meat as the server slices it off.
The meat service here is relentless. They brought stuff out one after another; sirloin, flank steak, ribeye chicken,spare ribs, lamb chops, filet, beef rib. It's crazy really. There is a bit of a conundrum; although your plate is full, you don't want to miss out on something good by turning your chip to black. Some cuts, like flank steak and ribeye, come out quite often. But other stuff, like lamb chops and beef ribs, come out less frequently.
Service was excellent; our server was constantly swinging by to clear plates and to make sure glasses were filled. Another thing that I thought was good is that they kept asking us if we had gotten everything; the Patriots Fan asked for the Linguica Sausage, and I wanted to try the fish. Fish is something that's pretty scarce; I can understand why they don't want everyone loading up on swordfish. A server came over with a massive swordfish steak and a big salmon. I asked for just a taste, and he lopped off almost as much as you'd get as a dinner portion elsewhere.
The swordfish was good; if I was still hungry I would have sought out some butter. The salmon was a bit over-seasoned; everything here is seasoned, so if you don't like your meat salted there may be some things that you find too salty. I like my meat well seasoned; with the exception of the garlic filet, everything here was pretty good.
A tip for this place is to try to be seated between 6:45 and 7. It's still not too crowded, the salad bar is well stocked for the crowds that start arriving after 7, and they'll be in full rotation with the meat service by the time you're done with your salad bar food. When we were leaving just before 9, the salad bar had some empty trays and it was kind of a mess. If you get here too early, they're not going to cook up the entire menu for a couple of tables. So you want to get here just before the crowd arrives.
When I think about the measly portions served at some Las Olas restaurants, the volume of food you get here is really worth the price. It's not cheap; the wine is expensive; without dessert figure on at least $75 per person. Bring your appetite as well as your wallet; you won't be craving a midnight snack after having dinner at Chima.