We like to come here every few months, usually mid-afternoon on a weekend when not as crowded. I'd recommend reservations during busier times. Located on the Winchester Ave side of Santana Row (we usually use their free covered garages).
How it works: you order the full meal or just salad bar, as salad bar comes with the meal. They usually have a few extras, for instance a lobster bisque my husband loves, dessert selection, drinks, for an additional per-item fee.
The salad bar: the title is an overwhelming understatement. There are salad fixings, charcuterie (salami, prosciutto, etc.), good variety of gourmet cheeses, pickles, anti-pasti, specialty salads, fruits, smoked salmon and fixings, just an outrageous assortment. You have to see it to believe it. Truly gourmet, not your usual boring salad bar. (Tip: if you've ordered the entire meal, I cannot emphasize enough to NOT pile your plate high at this heavenly feast, or you'll be too full for the meal!)
The meal: served family-style at the table are scrumptious pillowy little bread bites who's Brazilian name I cannot remember, plantain (and possibly another side?) served during/after you've visited the salad bar. You'll notice there is a round, two-sided, red/green cardboard-ish "chip" near your plate, red facing up. You'll also notice waiters buzzing about the entire dining room in gaucho attire with huge swords carrying various meats and sausages, cooked close enough to perfection to pass for it. When you're ready, flip the chip green side up. The nearest waiter(s) will come near and slice off or unskewer the delicacy near your side plate. Your job is to use the tongs on that plate to carefully grasp the morsel and move it to the side plate. They will continue to descend on you as long as that "chip' is green up. Flip it red periodically to devour what you've accumulated while it is hot.
Usually the service is impeccable. We've been to this chain in other states as well, and they're pretty consistent. However, our last visit they seemed to fumble initially, taking extraordinarily long to get our drinks handled. The food and gauchos were terrific as they have always been. I suspect they were changing shifts... a minor infraction. We'll be back again. This is a nice place for larger groups as well, the unique service process keeps food flowing easily.
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