There is a Portuguese word called rodizio which means something that rotates over and over again.
And another one which goes by the name of estabulo which translates into cowshed.
Put them together and you cook up a meat-lovers’ dream called the Estabulo Rodizio restaurant at Union Square shopping complex in Aberdeen.
I was dipping into a fascinating eating-out culture exported directly from traditional Brazilian restaurants.
Offering a dazzling range of sliced roast meat and chicken thighs served from large sword-like skewers, which rotate around the restaurant.
Carried by waiters called “passadors” who pass by tables multiple times, pausing to serve a different selection of cuts and other treats on each occasion.
But in case you jump to the conclusion that it’s a no-go for non-meat lovers, you’d be mistaken.
Fish and pasta dishes are also on offer and there is an impressive salad bar.
Expect cherry blossom-style decor and ‘sunny and warm’ staff
It was a chilly Thursday lunchtime as we made our way to the restaurant, where the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming.
Busy, but not heaving with people, with a nice background hum among diners chatting and interacting with the waiting team.
Surroundings are as important as the food for me and they were to my liking as well.
We were drawn into an attractive, sprawling softly-lit dining area straight off the shopping mall walkway on the first floor at Union Square.
The subdued lighting was the perfect partner to lots of cosy nooks and crannies.
Crowned by an extravagant canopy of cherry blossom-style decor hanging from the ceiling, just above head height when standing; I loved that.
The waitress who welcomed us didn’t actually speak to us in Portuguese because she was from Perth, but it didn’t matter as her whole disposition was sunny and warm.
And there were several Brazilians working here anyway, including one of the managers Octavio, who added to the authenticity of the surroundings.
For some reason my eye was drawn to large poster pictures of brightly-dressed female street dancers, back in Rio I presumed.
Samba is Brazil’s favourite dance, with its fast footwork and flowing hip swings.
A kind of perpetual dance goes on here, too, through every service.
The food at Estabulo
It starts in the kitchen where chefs have to match the flow of diners with the preparation and timings of a mesmerising array of meats on spits.
The waiters require nifty footwork to weave their way among the tables holding the huge skewers of meats and chicken – and even roasted pineapple as a dessert – and slice them straight onto your plates.
It’s a “dance” which never stops and you receive at least eight servings by the time you depart.
I was glad I’d skipped breakfast in preparation for what was to come.
But as a precaution for those who prefer a breather between courses, there is a “traffic light” system which alerts the waiters that you’d prefer a breather during their next table tour with the skewers.
It’s simple really: my wife and I had two cards on our table – one green, the other red – and we flipped them over as a signal as to whether we wanted a food delivery the next time around.
Like all well-laid plans, it’s the plan which goes out of the window first in the heat of battle.
Sometimes we were on a red card, but when something we fancied went by we’d cry out, “Yes, we’ll have that after all”.
Or we might turn them away – when we were actually still on green.
It didn’t matter as it was all part of the fun.
It’s a bit of a blur now, but I remember succulent slices of sirloin steak arriving off our first skewer with a wonderful crusty coating of roasted meat juice and flavourings.
Followed by rump, brisket, another type of rump, lamb, rib-eye, pork belly, gammon and chicken thighs.
All the meat was cooked medium rare, but you can order well-done, for example, and they put a sign on your table to remind passadors to bring the right thing.
A special mention here for their salad bar, which offers an important contrast to the rich meat.
“Salad bar” doesn’t really do justice to this magnificent four-sided heaving table of gorgeousness which could grace any top establishment.
It was kept fresh and topped up – and tidy – throughout our stay with a variety of salads, dressings, chopped vegetables, sauces, potatoes, breads and cheeses.
There were a few Brazilian specialities, too, but bizarrely I even spotted small
Yorkshire puddings on a plate.
Not as odd as it seems because along with the potatoes, veg, sauces and meats, diners could build their own British Sunday lunch.
Before we left we tried two traditional Brazilian guarana soft drinks made from berries, which was a nice way to round it off.
The bill came to £75 for two, including an optional 10% service charge, which I didn’t notice until after I’d paid, but the service was excellent.
They also included a 25% discount on the receipt towards our next visit, so we were happy.
The only thing I kept missing out on were thick sausages on skewers.
But by the time I caught up with them I was full to bursting.
If they had handed me that skewer I would have run up a white flag.
Address: Guild Street, Aberdeen AB11 5RG
T: 0808 196 0661
Price: £75.46, including optional 10% service charge
- Food: 4/5
- Service: 4/5
- Surroundings: 4/5