Last week, we took our rumbling bellies to Vaqueiros, the latest addition to York’s steakhouse scene – and we had never experienced anything quite like it!
How it works:
Step 1: Walk through front door and be amazed at the atmosphere in the building. Really, we weren’t expecting so much vibrancy and Brazilian energy on this seemingly quiet weeknight! The music, the bar, the semi-open kitchen, and to our surprise, the waiters walking around with huge chunks of skewered meat.
Step 2: Be welcomed by a super friendly waiter/waitress and order drinks, then listen to the simple instructions on eating Rodizio style, finished off with a friendly and encouraging “Eat as much as you like!”. We promise, it’s simple.
Step 3: Sip your drink whilst scouring the menu. It’s not really a menu, just a well designed card indicating what’s on offer – what cuts of meat will make their way to your table and what’s on the salad bar.
Step 4: Walk to the salad bar and ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the sight of green salad, chickpea salad, green bean salad, rice, potatoes, black beans, pickles, sauces, bread… Attempt not to overfill your plate and make a little space for the meat, because this is just the half of it.
Step 5: Sit back down and excitedly turn over your little placemat to ‘Green’. Green indicates you’re ready for the pièce de résistance, you’re ready to welcome the highly anticipated, medium-rare meat that you’ve been promised. As soon as your card is turned to green, waiters (aka Passadores) flock to your table, bringing beef (rump tail, fillet..), chicken and sausages, slicing it off their skewers straight onto your plate. There are fish and vegetable options that can be ordered for those who don’t favour meat, so no one is left behind.
Step 6: Rinse and repeat! Once your plate is empty, you’re free to return to the salad bar and ask for more meat by keeping your mat on ‘Green’ for as long as you like!
Step 7: Walk away, hopefully not too full, maybe with a dessert to top it all off (we really didn’t have space).
What we thought:
If you need a meat fix, this is the place to come. If you don’t need a meat fix, you’re sorted too, because the salad bar was miles away from the quality that comes to mind when you hear ‘salad bar’. No soggy iceberg lettuce and watery shredded carrots in sight here; just fresh salads using ingredients that are slightly more unusual. We particularly liked the black bean and pork stew (agreed, it’s a meaty side for meat, but it really was delicious), the chickpea salad and the green bean salad. There’s something almost theatrical about having your meat served straight from the skewer: it’s a fun experience, just like a Korean barbecue or Japanese teppanyaki. If you’re a fast eater, you might want to slow down – there’s no way you’ll be able taste everything otherwise! So feel free to stop and start, which is what we did – a little slice of rump, a five minute rest, a little piece of chicken… There’s no rush, and you’re encouraged to take your time (apart from the odd waiter who insisted on bringing meat even though our placemats were on ‘red’). The quality of the food was also outstanding. The beef was very well cooked (and hence very good value for your money), and our favourite type was the ‘chilli beef’, melt-in-your mouth chunks of soft and spicy beef.
Who’s it for?
We thought Vaqueiros would be a great place to take friends or family to; everyone can help themselves, and accommodating for various diets is not too difficult. Vegetarians and pescatarians alike will easily find an option; vegans less easily, as there is only one option that can be ordered (vegetables) and only parts of the salad bar (mostly rice, potatoes, bread and leaves) that apply. Eating either dairy or gluten free is very easy – although you will want to double check the specific ingredients on the day. But unless you’re really averse to having meat hovering around your table, this place is for everyone!