Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Malibu Grill

malibuVegetarians should look the other way. Things are about to get gratuitously carnivorous.

malibuVegetarians should look the other way. Things are about to get gratuitously carnivorous.

Malibu Grill, a Bailey’s Crossroads churrascaria, or Brazilian steakhouse, is a spot for diners who look at the USDA’s new food plate graphic and wonder why the plate isn’t full of four servings of protein accompanied by a tall glass of protein. Meat reigns supreme.

Here, waiters navigate an expansive dining room clad in over-the-top tropical decorations to present customers with an endless parade of long, sword-like skewers of freshly grilled meats. At the end of the dining room, a salad bar wraps around a kitchen-adjacent alcove and offers up steak accompaniments like seasoned and unseasoned rice; reasonably crisp lettuce served only with French or ranch dressing; rather wilted-looking potato wedges; and a host of cook-out sides like potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw.

The sides are unimpressive – save for a delightfully simple citrus and cilantro seasoned noodle salad – but not offensive. But no one is showing up for the side dishes, and instead diners sit hungrily eyeing the kitchen door, waiting for the waiter’s next pass of meat. Using a bi-colored wooden peg, diners can signal if they are ready for meat (by tipping the green side up) or need to take a break (by tipping the red side up).

Beef is the primary meat the restaurant serves, and it comes out in short ribs and sirloin hunks all stacked atop the tall skewers. Because of the buffet style of service, those who are particular about the cooking time on their meats might be disappointed to find that the short ribs come out well done, and the sirloin comes out at a generous medium-well. The short ribs are savory, well-seasoned, and pull away from the small pieces of bone easily with a tug of the teeth. The sirloin, while less flavorful, benefits from the shorter cooking time.

Ketchup, hot sauce and steak sauce are available for those looking to alter (or disguise) the meat flavor, but the situation here is not so dire as to necessitate the slathering of this meat in sauce.

Even fans of poultry have something to look forward to when dining at Malibu Grill, as the restaurant also serves roasted chicken and bacon-wrapped turkey. The chicken is nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked in the former. The bacon of the latter imparts a subtle sweetness to the tender turkey, though in a restaurant that caters to a meat-loving clientele, a double-meat combination is sure to be a fan favorite. A dense, zesty sausage with an almost crispy grilled casing completes the order, making for a well-rounded selection of grilled meat favorites.

A neglected corner of the buffet features unappetizing gelatin squares and fruit cocktail, but rarely do diners save room for dessert during the endless barrage of meat.

The relatively inexpensive (about $20) cost for the all-you-can-eat meat and salad bar meal is reflected especially in the quality of the salad bar offerings, but only somewhat in the cuts of meat, making the restaurant a good bargain for those looking for mid-level dining that will leave them positively stuffed. And with outdoor grilling season upon us, Malibu Grill is a decent alternative to having to spark up a grill and brave the heat to get a char-grilled feast.

Malibu Grill is located at 5715 Columbia Pike, Falls Church. For more information, call 703-379-0587. Restaurant hours are Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Saturday: Noon – 10 p.m.