Does anyone else feel like Five Corners is the center of this Island? It’s the first challenge you are faced with after exiting the ferry, it is a place for protesters to gather and be heard, and it is the home to Island road rage. My typical maneuver at this intersection is to hold my breath and hope for the best, but an exquisite new eatery has changed my perspective completely. The Golden Bull Brazillian Steakhouse has opened its doors and filled the Vineyard Haven air with a charred, savory, and ethnic aroma, pungent enough to lead me in for lunch on a Monday afternoon.
I was greeted by friendly staff and the sound of the “Hallelujah Chorus” in my head when my eyes feasted on all that this rodízio (all-you-can-eat Brazilian buffet-style restaurant) had to offer. I took a look at the menu and noticed what is (to my knowledge) our Island’s only craft Caipirinha menu. Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil, made with Cachaça, which is a spirit derived from fresh sugarcane juice. Traditional rum comes from fermented molasses, a byproduct of the sugarcane plant. This, in my opinion, makes Cachaça just a more pure form of this type of liquor, which pairs beautifully with the array of fresh fruit juices Golden Bull offers as variations to the traditional cocktail.
The sight of the seemingly endless food options also paired beautifully with my Monday afternoon “no time for lunch until 3 pm” blues. At least two or three times during my stroll around the buffet, cooks came out to refill and freshen each and every food option. There is a grill overlooking the restaurant, cooking a variety of meats at all times, and there is nothing better than such an open-kitchen style restaurant. As far as taste goes, the steak was cooked to a perfect medium, while still remaining melt-in-your-mouth juicy. The pork was equally tender, and after cutting a few pieces with my butter knife, I found it to also be equally delicious. The meat has a sort of sweet yet spicy, and charred yet tender feel in your mouth that was like nothing I had ever tasted before. Surprisingly enough, though, the meat was not even my favorite part of this dining experience.
If you are a vegetarian, don’t abstain from this steakhouse based on its name. The roasted plantains brought me right back to my South of the Border travels in a way that is so hard to find here in New England. They were cooked to create a crisp outside, which held together a rich and creamy inside. The hint of sweetness from the fruit is subtle, with the seasoned and smoky flavor overall. I could have made a meal out of this alone, but there was still a whole cold section of the buffet to explore.
From charcuterie and salads to fresh veggies and fruit, there are enough raw and light foods to balance the heaviness of the hot and savory options. The best choice I made was to take the freshly sliced bread, lightly dressed with a gingery spread, and top it with the housemade salsa. While this might sound like an odd combination, the spicy flavors atop the soft bread cleansed my palate and acted as a digestif in such a way that I decided to give some dessert a try.
On the recommendation of my server, I decided to try the chocolate parfait and the passionfruit parfait. Being someone who believes in few things in life as much as I believe in chocolate, that dessert was the first I tasted, and it changed my life. I had to stop the conversation I was attempting to engage in and savor the crispy chocolate layers and the smooth creamy vanilla layers, all topped with a brigadeiro. We’ve got it all wrong with the “cherry on top” expression, because everything should be topped with that classic chocolate truffle. The passionfruit parfait was light, airy, and tasted the way you might feel when you step off the plane into your first tropical vacation, or when you stare at your palm tree screensaver for too long.
There are no comparable flavors to the kinds that transport you, and the Golden Bull cuisine does just that. For a flat price of $23.95 during lunch, or $34.95 during dinner, you are welcome to eat all that you can from the buffet. Takeout is $8.99 a pound, and welcomed at any time. The service is kind and helpful, the drink menu is enticing, and the desserts are extraordinary. This place is exactly what Five Corners has always needed.
Golden Bull Brazillian Steakhouse, 13 Beach Rd., Vineyard Haven. 508-338-7836;