Braza Lena, Key West

Florida Keys Guy... pondering the many salad bar choices!

Although I do eat a lot – probably more than I should, I am not usually a fan of “All You Can It”. I always lose in that scenario. At any rate, we had a buy one get one free (another Woman’s Club Restaurant Card deal) so we decided to try out Braza Lena, the Brazilian Churriasqueria. 

The restaurant is big and windowless, and pretty atypical for Key West. We were greeted by our server who immediately tried to sell us

That is a big hunk o' meat.

on whatever wine their distributor was pushing that week. We passed and took a look at the wine list. We ordered the 2008 (I think) Termes, which was on “sale” for the bargain price of $62. They were out of it, so we decided to get the 2006 Muga Reserva, also listed on the sale page for $70. They brought over the 2007. When I pointed out the discrepancy, I was told by the “manager” that it didn’t matter, it was the same wine. I ended up ordering the $30 Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile. It was fine, but at that point there was no way I was spending $70 on a bottle of wine when it was unclear if  they were too lazy to bother updating their list or intentionally selling the wrong ones.  It was not a stellar weekend for wine service, I will tell you that much.

From there we moved on to the salad bar. It was big, with two types of salad – a Spring mix and Caesar-type, with a few vegetable add-ons and dressings. There was tuna poke (very good), chilled asparagus (very good, too) and a bunch of other things. Some of the other offerings included chilled shrimp, conch ceviche, pasta (did not look too good), rice and even a beef dish.

An overcooked lamb chop

Once you are done with the salad bar, you can turn your little round card over to the green side so the many dudes dressed as gauchos would come by with some type of meat. They have a lot of meat, including flank steak (they are known for this one, so it should be delicious!), garlic steak (very good), roast lamb and lamb chops (only OK), sausage, ribs, parmesan pork, shrimp and a few other choices. Each one is brought to the table on a giant skewer and sliced off at the table. The presentation is cool, but overall, the food is only OK. While a couple of the choices were standouts, there were more options that were mediocre.

Our server did come by several times to check on us, see if we needed anything and to bring over anything we were missing. Overall, it is certainly not someplace you can go all the time (maybe you can, but I can’t.) Would I go again? At buy-one-get-one, probably, but it won’ be very often.

I did have a reader write in not that long ago asking if I have had the hamburger at the bar at Braza Lena. I have not, but I am certainly interested in going and checking out the bar menu to see if it is a little more reasonable. I’ll let you know on that one.

Braza Lena is located at 421 Caroline Street, Key West and is open for dinner every day. They also have a location in Islamorada at mile marker 83.