Picanha Grill launch night sponsored by Veuve Clicquot, Chester

Meat chefs, Frank Cortez and Manuel Perez

Meat chefs, Frank Cortez and Manuel Perez - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Chester’s latest restaurant, Picanha, launched in style with an exclusive Cheshire Life party, writes Rebekka O’Grady

Chefs; Rafael Ruiz Redondo, Francisco Lorenzo (head), Manuel Aranda Lopez and Leticia Munaiz Blanc

Chefs; Rafael Ruiz Redondo, Francisco Lorenzo (head), Manuel Aranda Lopez and Leticia Munaiz Blanco - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

Style, substance and champagne are three things that make a pleasing combination. All of the above were available in abundance at the exclusive launch party at Picanha, a new restaurant in Chester. The event got off to a sparkling start with guests enjoying glasses of champagne from sponsors Veuve Clicquot before taking their seats to enjoy a taste of South America.

The Newgate Street site, which was formerly home to Zizzi’s, is the latest venture from the bosses behind the hugely successful dining brand Fazenda, City District Group. Managing directors Tomas Maunier and Robert Melman wanted to bring the rodizio experience to Cheshire’s doorstep, without diners feeling like they have to travel far.

‘The brand of Fazenda works in large cities, but we have wanted to bring the experience to more suburban areas too,’ explained Tomas, who along with Robert, opened the first Fazenda site in Leeds in late 2010. The duo also have sites in Manchester and Liverpool.

‘Chester has had a lot of investment recently and is always growing, so it had been a destination on our radar for a while. The idea was to make a smaller version of Fazenda here but still maintain that style and quality.’

Tomas Maunier (Sales and Marketing Manager) with Natalia Andrade (Social Media Manager), Robert Melm

Tomas Maunier (Sales and Marketing Manager) with Natalia Andrade (Social Media Manager), Robert Melman (Director) and Francisco Martinez (Executive Head Chef) - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

That’s exactly what Picanha is. The 130 cover restaurant is big enough for it to make an impact on the city’s ever growing dining scene, but still retain an intimate, stylish feel. The unusual dining concept still works in the same novel way as the larger sites: the diner controls the service with a small double-sided card at the table setting. ‘Sim, por favor’ tells the chefs to continue to bring out ten of their prime cuts of meats one by one, while ‘Não, obrigado’ says ‘I’m just having a rest.’

If your choice is yes, you will be rewarded with delicious cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb, which are carved straight onto your plate by a team of skilled gauchos, dressed in smart, traditional Brazilian outfits. From the delectable barriga de porco, which is pork belly served and sliced with a honey, lemon and cinnamon sauce, to the beautifully marbled bife ancho (rib eye), it’s a difficult decision to know when to actually say ‘não’. Of course, you also have to save room for the star of the show, the impressive picanha (cap of rump).

‘In Brazil, Picanha is the very best cut of meat. It’s their house special,’ explained Tomas, who is from Argentina. ‘It’s famed for its succulent texture and exceptional flavour, so it made sense for us to take our name from this celebrated cut which is also our signature.’

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It wasn’t just the exceptional meat that wowed guests at the dinner, the amazing salad bar certainly got people talking too. With 10 to 15 gourmet salads and a selection of side dishes available at any one time, it was hard to not feel tempted to stack your plate full of deliciously fresh food.

From fresh vegetables, dips and smoked salmon to feijoada (black beans and pork stew), picantones (spicy sweet potato) and curried cauliflour, diners are spoilt for choice.

While we were busy mulling over the idea of another visit to the salad bar, a sharing tray of miniature desserts, (which included the daintiest custard tarts), was served. A sweet end to a very lovely evening.

From the menu:

Drinks reception

Veuve Clicqout

To start

A selection of tempting gourmet salads and sides including cured meats, cheese and traditional Brazilian dishes

To follow

A choice of ten meat cuts: picanha (cap of rump), linguiça gaúcha (sausage), sobrecoxa de frango (chicken thighs), barriga de porco (pork belly), cordeiro (lamb), tri-tip (bottom sirloin), bife de presunto and abacaxi (smoked gammon and pineapple), contra-filé (sirloin), alcatra (rump) and bife ancho (rib eye)

To finish

A selection of miniature South American desserts

To drink

Alamos Torrontes

Finca Lorosco Carmenere


Picahna, City Gates, 27 Newgate Street, Chester, CH1 1DQ

Tel: 01244 311839, picanhagrill.co.uk

Monday to Sunday 12pm to 3pm

Sunday to Wednesday 5pm to 9.30pm

Thursday to Saturday 5pm to 10pm


Lunch menu £17.50, full evening rodizio experience £25.50