Bluefire Grill vs Barbacoa

Jan 2006

On my trip to Oz over the festive season I tried out Bluefire Grill at the Docklands in Melbourne. It's a churrascaria style restaurant, offering seafood, calamari, chicken, lamb, beef & pork served on skewers and carved at the table for AU$50. It's fine in itself, but doesn't hold a candle to Barbacoa in Omotesando, Tokyo (Map).

For ¥3,300 (~ AU$40), you can get served skewers of 18 different cuts of beef - some cooked differently such as garlic or pepper - as well as roasted herb chicken, cheese bread (which is surprisingly tasty), roasted pineapple, and unlimited access to the salad bar. You can also opt for the ¥5,200 (~ AU$60) drink set which includes all you can drink house wine, beer, caipirinha, coffee and tea. Vegetarians can opt for the salad bar only option for a measly ¥2,700 (~ AU$32). It's a damn good deal, especially for its location. It's one of the few restaurants where I go for the toilet break option in middle of a meal :). Usually I get so full that I often opt for a taxi fare home instead of taking the train!

The service at Barbacoa is, as usual in Japan, great; but sometimes it's a bit hard to get the notice of the waiters as they move pretty quickly between tables to serve the overfed masses. An interesting way to help them determine who to serve is the use of a plastic coin. One side tells them at a glance whether you want more meat, while the other side tells them to stop serving you for the moment.

Bluefire has great service as well, the staff are more friendly and talkative but there were some small exceptions to their service: the oil from skewers of beef dripped on my shoes while they were being cut (although I guess that's what you get when you don't sit down at the table properly!), and Sherri was served a cut of beef that had been unceremoniously retrieved from the table. Oh, and they really need to put a big sign advertising their restaurant out the front; we must have walked past it several times. After we were seated, three other groups complained about the difficulty in finding the place as well!

Overall, they're both great places to eat, but I think I'll miss Barbacoa when I finally leave Japan.