WEST JORDAN — If I'd never eaten at any other churrascaria, I'd probably be more indulgent of the lapses of service at Grille From Ipanema, the Salt Lake Valley's newest Brazilian steakhouse.

But, being a meat lover, I've been to quite a few of them, and I know that the best Brazilian steakhouses, though they're often busy, manage to deliver a little more in the way of service than we experienced during a weekend dinner at Grille From Ipanema.

Still, the food is good, especially the meats and grilled pineapple, and the staff seem anxious to please. I hope they're also anxious to get more on top of things, because Grille From Ipanema is a nice addition to the dining mix in the valley.

Brazilian steakhouses are simple places: You go in and get eatin', as workers continually bring skewers of sizzling meats with lovely sears until you tell them to stop.

Considering its whimsical name, I expected continued whimsy inside Grille From Ipanema, but it's the straight stuff: cavernous but elegantly appointed dining space with high ceilings, stone-and-wood accents, and a long salad bar. The hostess told us as we sat down that we'd have to wait 10-15 minutes for a highchair, but we never got one. When I visited the restroom a short time later, there were six of them stacked against a wall.

Those kinds of lapses continued throughout the meal. Though our drinks were refilled promptly, our server never brought us enough meat plates, and we never received the basket of crusty rolls that most other diners had. And at the beginning of our meal, we waited a long time between meat offerings, though things picked up eventually.

On the plus side, as we were finishing our dinner, with our service disk turned to the red side, one of the meat servers asked us if there was anything specific he could bring us before we were done. I appreciated that and requested more grilled pineapple, which arrived quickly.

But I've gone all this way and neglected to mention the food. The salad bar, despite the presence at one end of fresh greens, leans heavily in the direction of marinated or flavored veggies, with everything from radish salad (very good) to balsamic mushrooms (even better) lined up on the east side. On the west side are warm dishes, including such Brazilian traditions as creamy-centered fried bananas, flavored mashed potatoes and rice.

The Brazilian authenticity continues with the specialty drinks, which give a South American touch even to such restaurant favorites as strawberry lemonade, served here in a creamy, sweet-and-sour version that's several giant steps up from the usual stuff. We also tried the mango drink, exactly like drinking a cool, sweet mango through a straw.

And, of course, there's the meat. I think my favorite was the tenderloin, but I loved the rump roast with garlic and the sirloin, as well as the sweet and fork-tender ham. My husband loved the pork tenderloin coated with Parmesan and the garlicky chunks of linguica sausage. And we all devoured every slice we could get of the grilled pineapple, which alone is worth the price of admission.

We stopped the meat coming a little early so we could try dessert: serviceable, frothy tiramisu; moist-and-mild chocolate layer cake; and the dark, sweet and dense chocolate-mousse pie.

Lunch: full churrasco $11.99, salad bar $9.99, kids 5-10 years old $6. Dinner: full churrasco $19.99, salad bar $14.99, kids $10; Brazilian specialty drinks 50 cents-$4.25; desserts $4.25.

Rating: ** 1/2

Where: 3763 West Center Park Drive (Jordan Landing), West Jordan

Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5-9 p.m.

Saturday noon-10 p.m.

Sunday 4-8 p.m.

Payment: Major credit cards accepted; no checks

Phone: 282-2233

Web: www.grillefromipanema.com

Wheelchair access: easy


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: [email protected]