American Q, the restaurant at the recently rebranded B Resort, is a sort of American version of the Brazilian churrascaria, a barbecuscaria, if you will. And it makes perfect sense.
A Latin American churrascaria, of course, features spit-roasted meats sliced tableside by gauchos in a never ending rotation. Think Texas de Brazil, Fogo de Chao and several others.
But gaucho essentially means cowboy, and what's more American than a cowboy? Barbecue, maybe. So put the two together and you have a great concept. Especially when you consider another thing that is distinctly American: Eating way too much food at one sitting.
And that's the only issue I have with American Q or most of the other churrascaria concepts in the area. The food here is nicely done and even has creative touches from executive chef Justin Leo. And for the record, the all-you-can-stuff moving buffet isn't the only dining option at American Q. There is also an a la carte dinner menu that has some barbecue items, such as St. Louis spare ribs or Memphis style babyback ribs or Texas beef ribs. And some non-barbecuish things like catfish, seared tuna and smoked salmon.
But I know Americans. They're going to look at the entree prices, which range from $15.50 for a burger to $42.50 for the butter-poached and blackened cowboy chop, and say, "Well, heck, I can get a helluva lot more food for just $34.95," and off they'll go.
They'll start with the salad buffet, which is spread out on the flatbed of a cherry-red 1951 Ford pickup (more Americana) and has a lot more than just salads, including peel & eat shrimp, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and a particularly delicious chili con carne.
The meats start coming to your table as soon as you place the little pig on a stick upright in the table stand. And the icon of the pig should not be lost on anyone at this point.
All of the meats I was invited to sample — and I'm pretty sure I sampled everything except the turkey drumstick — were of excellent quality and quite nicely grilled on the rodizio. Best among the meats was the picanha, which, ironically, counters the American theme and places the meal squarely back in Brazil where this is one of the more popular cuts of beef. Easy to see why — it was wonderfully tender, and the seasonings brought all the juicy goodness to life.
Other highlights included the various sausages, all of which are made inhouse.
Swine candy is the name of a snack from the bar menu. It features thick rashers of bacon roasted with molasses and some hot spices, so you get elements of sweet and heat in each bite. Deviled eggs are stuffed with crabmeat (a whole crab in the four eggs, according to my server, though I couldn't verify that). The tater tots were so so. (By the way, what is it with tater tots that I'm suddenly seeing them everywhere? And when will someone do some so good that I'll start looking for them everywhere?)
One of the things that has always concerned me about churrascarias is the potential for a lot of wasted food. When a brisket, say, gets down to the last couple of slices and doesn't look good enough to present to a table, what happens to it? When I asked Leo about that he said that because his restaurant is located in a hotel and thus responsible for feeding guests at breakfast, some of that meat can be incorporated into other dishes, a brisket hash, for instance. I like that.
American Q is a large, industrial looking space with an open expanse — big enough to fit a Ford pickup with an oversized flatbed behind it — and then some. There is a bar on one side of the room that features some fun craft cocktails. Service was friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. There was only one cowboy working the room when I visited, and the meats come out in a particular order, going from one table to the next, so in a case like that you may have to wait a few minutes for the next round. But seriously, you're not going to starve here.
American Q is at the B Resort and Spa, 1905 Hotel Plaza Blvd., Lake Buena Vista. It is open for breakfast and dinner daily, though the churrascaria is dinner only. The phone number is 407-827-3080.