Romance the Skewers at the Rodizio Grill

We used to think marriage was a whimsical climax of love. With flower petals congesting the air and a soundtrack of string instruments, a smashing young man and his wholesome new bride would scamper down a sidewalk and off into endless bliss.

Nowadays, all we want to talk about are leaving socks on the floor and wearing sweatpants in public. I don't know if it's because everybody identifies with that so it gets us more attention, or ... no, that's exactly what it is so I'm not listing alternatives. That's what all the big sitcoms and blogs are - spouses besmirching each other while sprinkling in a few funny kid stories.

So how do we make marriage magical again in our consumption-happy society? How do we make anything magical? Don't we just smother it in really good food? I get it - you don't want to hear about how much I love my wife. But you do want to hear about how we maxed out our guts in public and rolled ourselves out to the car, yes?

We celebrated our 25-month anniversary* last Thursday at the Rodizio Grill. There was meat sweat, sloth, and lime squeeze - and love, of course.

The Basics: Think of the Rodizio grill as a less expensive, more adventurous Fogo de Chao. Hit Rodizio on the Internet and their slogan is THE Brazilian Steakhouse. Hey, I wonder if that's directed at anybody. They're a national chain, with 15 locations nationwide, and Minnesota's installment holds down a hard-to-find corner of Maple Grove retail maze The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes. That's right - two Ps and an E when you're in the 'burbs.

Wild game fest runs this month, which makes their menu that much more exciting.

The bright neutral walls and farm paintings give Rodizio a close-to-Earth feel. Thursday-ness meant everything was immediate. The thud of our duffs against the seats brought the plates over, and the knock of the porcelain against the wood called up the wine. The server uncorked it, gave my wife a sample, and waited for her approval before setting it on the table.

"That's really classy," she said. But, ya know what isn't classy? How full I fill a wine glass, apparently. "It's not BEER, Frank!" The service was fantastic throughout, coming with speed and always introducing the skewer to the lady first.

Rodizio Grill on UrbanspoonFor $20, you can purchase unlimited rounds at the salad bar ... and that's where they keep the mashed potatoes! Paired with a sweet beef stroganoff gravy, the spuds really made me want to load up my shoes with them and scoop them out at home for work lunches.

What we bought, however, was what they call "The Full Rodizio." It sounds like a South American penis nickname, yes, and the only way I get out of this sentence with our heads out of the gutter is if the server starts off with glazed pineapple. And look at that!

Next were frog legs. It was my first time trying them, and everyone who says they taste like chicken is right. The legs even look like chicken wings. Wait a minute ... 

Rodizio gives you a respectable steak stable - trotting out tri-tip sirloin, top sirloin, and a couple of others - but the variety was so much more fun: Parmesan tomatoes! Turkey breast wrapped in bacon! Japanese wild boar! Whitefish! Chicken hearts with lime!

It's true: Sometime in the annals of man, someone dug through the breasts and wings and thought, "Hey, let's eat the heart too!" THEN, someone decided, "Let's try it with a lime!" I'm happy this happened. You will be, too. A lot of things came with a lime. If nothing else, Rodizio makes you crave a Corona.

The only non-awesome was the uninspiring and dry rattlesnake sausage, but I don't think that's Rodizio's fault. If you recall, this happened a few weeks ago at New Bohemia. I don't think it's us, rattlesnakes, I think it's you. Otherwise, Rodizio covers a wide flavor space and covers it well. Don't think your wife is still sexy? Imagine her cutting a slice of top sirloin (Remember: Call your doctor if it last longer than four hours).

The impulse is a comparison to Fogo do Chao - just look at Urbanspoon's diner reviews - but they're different experiences. For the everyman, Fogo is the centerpiece of a planned holiday: You head downtown after a show, let the valet guys park your car, and splurge. Rodizio, you could do anytime: You slide into a shopping center parking lot, walk on in, and don't pay much more for your meal than you would at, say, the Cherokee Tavern.

It's an accessible experience, and it certainly makes fattening easy. It certainly makes anniversaries easy. The first one in the door to our townhome would be sweats-bound before the second one was up the stairs. Okay, marriage isn't all magical.

*She was sick on our actual two-year. Don't worry, we're not still celebrating months like high-school couples.

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