In a tragically sour economy, the risky restaurant business is not always the wisest plan for a healthy profit margin. Joints come and go. The latest high-end restaurant craze is the Brazilian steakhouses, and the latest Brazilian steakhouse to plunk down in Philadelphia is Chima. Digphilly went to the opening, met a few celebs, and housed so much meat we’ve been in a protein-coma for nearly a week.
If you’re going to open up a restaurant, especially one like Chima, you’ve got to really throw THE party of the month. Chima, located in the middle of NOWHERE, took the ruckus level up a notch by throwing an event for well-over 400 of Philadelphia’s most glamorous people (i.e., local newscasters and B-list sports figures). Nothing says “happening” like a red carpet with John Bolaris on it, right kids? (Side note: He’s not as tall as you think…) But the paparazzi isn’t coming just for a chance to snap a pic of Keri Lee Hacket’s summer wardrobe, you’ve got to get some big name star to schlep into town and smile for the cameras. Enter Lorraine Bracco.
Bracco, famous for her years on the Soprano’s, is hawking Bracco Wines. Her little vineyard was the host of Chima’s splashy grand opening event. Alas, Bracco had no time for interview questions from this little Digphilly reporter, so you’ll have to just imagine what kind of interaction we would have had…She missed out on some zingers and hard-balls, she did!
After being allowed to stand seven feet away from Ms. Bracco and admire her beauty, we were ushered into Chima’s massive dining area. The space is huge, and I imagine it is pretty much what would happen if you designed a 5 million dollar cafeteria. Sure, it’s fancy and elegant, but any space that holds 300 people is not going to be intimate, trendy or too terribly posh. Clearly they had spent a lot of money to make this a destination restaurant, and I’m sure it will be, but it won’t win any architectural awards.
After swinging through the salad/side bar, we sat down at our table and were brought a glass of Lorraine’s red and white wines. I’m a red drinker, and it wasn’t terribly bad. The chardonnay was outstanding! “Great job, Lorraine!” I screamed at her from across the room.
Chima, like a true Brazilian steakhouse, has gauchos running around the room with steaming skewers of beef. Each customer has a button that they may flip over to indicate they’re ready to chomp down on some seared flesh. Top sirloin? Yes, please! Baby top sirloin? Yes yes yes! Carnivores will be bursting by the time they try all 15 of Chima’s meats, poultry, and seafood. Our table tried every single piece of once-living tastiness, and our top picks are the leg of lamb, the chicken breast wrapped in bacon, the pork loin with Parmesan cheese, and the rib eye.
But we laughed the swordfish and the salmon right off the table—NO FISH! Higher species only! We also really like Chima’s tuna orchiette pasta and the shrimp salad. I think Chima also serves deserts, but after consuming four times my mass in meat, I passed on the key lime pie. I did catch Bracco munching on some cheesecake, though… “HOW WAS IT LORRAINE? CAN YOU HEAR ME OVER YOUR SECURITY TEAM?”
While waiting for our heart rate to return to a normal enough level to move, we reviewed the event, the celebrities, and the meal. If you’re even slightly vegan/vegetarian, then stay far, far away from Chima; you’ll end up in tears and quite possibly be thrown out. The event itself was fairly well organized for the massive throng of people that hit the doors at once. I’ve waited on tables, and 300 hungry Main Liners hopped up on wine does not make for an ideal night of service. Chima’s grand opening was, to put it bluntly, a clusterfuck, but one I could forgive and enjoy for the spectacle. And Lorriane Bracco.
1901 JFK Boulevard