Ah Pampa the highly anticipated Brazilian Steakhouse that even celebrity chef David Ajedy visited with his Food Network show. With the rodizio style service and reputation of a meat lovers dream. It was my turn to go to the highly praised, instantly popular, meat-tacular restaurant. Now I emphasize meat because it is a steakhouse and lets face it, you don’t make friends with salad.
A special occasion with the man and I saw us arriving at 7 for our reservation with a busy dinner crowd on a Friday night. The crowd was variable from the well-dressed, well-versed, socially up-tight to the loud, vicarious, possibly posing as a zebra with such baying laughter crowd. We fit in as the adorable couple speaking soft words while making fun of every one around us. Our server came by and explained how the restaurant works. The concept is simple $44.95 for an adult for complete access to the salad bar and to the delicious, succulent, drool-inticing meat. When we were ready to start the meat course we were to flip our little disk from red to green. Then the grill masters will come by and saw off our meat and place it on our plate. Our server took our drink orders, not wanting to skip out on the full Brazilian experience I ordered a Strawberry Lime Capirihina. Capirihina is made from fresh fruit, lime, sugar, and brazilian sugar cane rum cachaça. Although a bit pricey, consumers have to remember that all mixed drinks are served as doubles and are priced as doubles. So if price prevents you from enjoying it, you probably shouldn’t be at Pampas anyways. For me, price was no matter and I enjoyed the delicious national drink of Brazil. I found the Capirihina similar to a mojitio in that it was light and refreshing and very easy to get drunk off. Classy girl for the win. The man had a domestic beer and happily enjoyed it.
Before we ventured to the salad bar we were brought a form of snacks including crispy polenta and fried cassava. The polenta was quite tasty and mild in flavour while the cassava was starchy and salty. Almost a french fry but better.
Now for the salad bar. We ventured over and weren’t entirely impressed with the array provided. It contained the standard items of fresh greens and dressings including balsamic vinegar reductions and standards to please everyone. A few varieties of pasta salad, olives, cheeses, asparagus and other raw vegetables rounded out the salad bar. I suppose it is there for aesthetics more than the piece de resistance. Regardless we felt obliged to grab a few vegetables as we knew the onslaught of meat was coming.
With the flip of green disk our meat began to arrive. The meat included ribs, pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken, picanha, chicken wings, homemade sausage and lamb. The first to arrive was the sausage made from pork, spiced delicately and quite moist. I enjoyed the sausage but was desperately missing my mustard. The man enjoyed it as well but he said he has had better home-made sausage. Next came the bacon wrapped chicken. Now I LOVE bacon and served crispy. This bacon with chicken included was crispy and held its flavour well while the chicken was moist and had delicious salty bacon flavour. Did I mention I love bacon? The next dishes that followed I passed on. They were lamb (despise the texture) and a chicken wing (I really do not like chewing on bone and picking out veins). The man throughly enjoyed both and would have gotten more if the beef had not arrived. A rib eye was served with a garlic and salt rub. The rib eye was beautifully cooked at medium which melted in my mouth. Quickly we were served next the signature dish at Pampas. Picanha is rump steak that they sprinkled lightly with sea salt to “extract all of its natural flavour” or so says the website. On this one the man and I were split. He enjoyed it more than I, but he also had a delicious crusty bit with the salt and juices were my piece was an interior piece. Maybe if I had the outside I may have enjoyed my piece more, but as it was I found it a little dry and flavourless for my liking. We also sampled ribs that practically fell away from the bone they were that tender and a parmesan pork loin cooked wonderfully.Gasping for our breaths and growing a food-baby each, we finally flipped our disks to red and signalled the end of the meat.
Our server came back, the first time in ages, and I was thirsty for more capirihina. However, she did do her job and convince us on dessert. The man and I chose to get our own deserts and compare. I ordered the mangar de coco which was described as a creme caramel style dessert. The manly man ordered a tapioca style dessert that was spiced with cinnamon and cloves (I believe), unfortunately I cannot remember the name of or exact spicing. When the mangar de coco came I found it light, flavourful with a gelatinous texture that I enjoyed after the heavy meal but the man did not find to his liking. The tapioca dessert was extremely flavourful with excellent spice and lightness that we both enjoyed. In fact I tried to eat more and distract him by pointing out one of the many photos that occupied the space.
After consuming our drinks. devouring the meat, and relaxing with light desserts our night at Pampas had come to a close with a happy ending. Although not everything was perfect, we both found the meat to be generally well cooked and seasoned, service as average and needing to be a bit more attentive, great space decorated with images and painted appropriately that reminded you of the new and modern west, and a great finish with light, airy, and flavourful desserts.
Try out Pampa to satisfy the meat lover in you and make sure you go hungry!