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You create your own plate at Rodizio Grill with meats that are brought to your table and items from a fresh, well-stocked salad bar.

If you go

› Where: Rodizio Grill, 439 Broad St.

› Phone: 423-777-4999

› Website: www.rodiziogrill.com/chattanooga.

› Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday (dinner only); 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Sunday.

› Price range: Full Rodizio (unlimited Brazilian sides, gourmet salads and rotisserie-grilled meats), $22.99 at lunch, $34.99 at dinner; unlimited gourmet salad option, $15.99 at lunch, $22.99 at dinner.

› Alcohol: Full bar.

Rodizio Grill has been open since late November, but if you've driven by the restaurant at 439 Broad St. on a recent cold night, you probably already know that. The aroma of skewered meat cooking over a rotisserie drifts like the scent of a good New York strip on your neighbors' grill. You immediately want what they're having.

Touted as offering an authentic Brazilian dining experience, an experience is what you'll get. More on that later.

Although Rodizio Grill calls itself an authentic Brazilian steakhouse or churrascaria, it differs from American-style steakhouses in how its food is delivered. You don't order a steak cooked to your liking. Instead, "gauchos" come by with a variety of meats (not just beef), and if you'd like some, they cut it from the skewer at your table.

The pricing is different, too. You have two basic choices: the full meat and salad bar package for around $35 or just the salad bar for about $23. Drinks and desserts are extra.

Lest you think the salad bar option is overpriced, keep in mind you can eat as heartily there as with the full menu. The hot bar has plenty of stick-to-your ribs offerings like Brazilian pot roast, beef stroganoff and warm pasta meals. The cold bar is also enticing, with leafy spring greens and exotic items like pickled quail eggs (tasty). Everything looked fresh and delicious.

My companion and I went with the full menu. We kept our salad bar portions small to leave room for the meat main attractions.

I passed on some of the rotisserie offerings like ham (my companion deemed it so-so) and bacon-wrapped chicken, boneless leg of lamb and parmesan pork loin (he said these were moist and good). My first gaucho-served meat choice was picanha, top sirloin, served medium-rare. It was delicious.

However, later beef servings, like the maminha, tri-tip sirloin, were more toward the well-done side. Even the beef tenderloin, which is not an everyday offering, lacked pinkness. For some, that might be a plus, but it wasn't for me. Sides included a glazed fried banana and a bread made with yucca flour and cheese. Both were delicious. One of the gauchos made regular rounds with Brazilian fried pork rinds, but both of us passed on this added gut buster.

The restaurant, in the heart of downtown, is modern, roomy and tasteful inside, with white granite brick finishes and large-format photography of Brazilian cowboys at work. We were seated promptly, and the wait staff was attentive and courteous.

Based on all that, you would think Rodizio Grill would be a good place to relax and unwind. For the most part, it was. However, on the Wednesday night we ate there, four groups had some kind of special occasions that rousted the wait staff entourage-style out of the kitchen, beating a bongo, shaking a tambourine and chanting. It was noisy and required a complete halt in our conversation until they were finished.

By the end of the meal, though, we were stuffed. We had to pass on the dessert menu, which includes a chocolate mousse torte, a caramel flan, crème brulee and a fruit-topped cheesecake.

Bottom line, the Rodizio Grill is likely a great spot for hearty meat eaters looking for a special-occasion meal. It might not be the place for some quiet couple time or for a cut of meat cooked just the way you like it.

Contact Terri Likens at findit@chattanooganow.com.

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