As of Friday, November 9th another restaurant has joined the list of great restaurants in City Place. Pampas Grille has moved into the location once occupied by McCormick and Schmick’s next to Ruth Chris.
Pampas is a Brazillian Churrascaria styled restaurant. The term Churrascaria is roughly translated from Portuguese as barbeque. They feature spit roasted meats which are carved table side for you. I was invited to a dining event on Wednesday before Friday’s official opening. We were there to give the new staff experience with all the items and the kitchen feedback on the food. When I entered I was greeted by a friendly staff excited to have us there and led us to our seats. As we walked to our table the hostess gave us a tour of the side bar. This wonderful spot is a mixture of salads and side dishes to accompany the delicious meats they would be serving table side. Among the typical salad offerings like lettuce tomatoes, carrots and the like there was also peppered bacon pieces. These were not minced bits. These were sliced pieces of perfectly cooked bacon sprinkled with cracked pepper. The calamari salad was fantastic with thin, tender sliced squid tossed with onion and peppers in a very light vinaigrette. There were several pasta salads and an Israeli couscous salad with green peas that was really delicious. The soup was an interesting creamy offering with celery root, potatoes, and leek, I think. It was light for a cream soup and served nicely hot. The other hot sides were black beans, rice, and steamed broccoli.
Once at our table we were greeted by our waiter. He was enthusiastic and happy to be helping us throughout the dinner. We were served a lovely bottle of Vendage Cabernet to go with the meal and as a treat we enjoyed the Brazilian national cocktail called a Caipirinha. It’s made with cachaca, (a sugar cane rum), sugar and lime. I recommend you let your waiter know how strong you want the drink because they make them very strong. The minute we let them know the cocktail was too strong for us they immediately went about correcting the problem and brought back fresh drinks which were spot on. This is a delicious cocktail and I encourage you to try one.
Our waiter also brought us Pan de Queizo. This is a lovely little cheesy biscuit that you dip in chimichurri sauce. We asked for seconds! Then the tableside service began. We were given what looked like small coasters. One side was green and said “Yes Please.” The other was red with “No Thank You” written on it. This was to let our carvers know if we were ready for more or not. It was a fun way to inform them without the need to keep asking if we wanted more. A parade of meats and seafood appeared at the table. We started with the Frango Picante. This was a spicy chicken leg. It was served piping hot and had a lovely spicy skin without be really hot. Frango was next and this was chicken breast wrapped in bacon. There was sirlioin wrapped in bacon, beef tenderloin, tri-tip, roasted pork, leg of lamb, shrimp, bacon wrapped scallops, filet of marlin, salmon, sausage, smoked ham and grilled pineapple. I am sure I am missing something but this should give a good representation of the bounty brought to our table. The sirloin was the favorite of the table. It was cooked to perfection and nearly fork tender. I really loved the smoked ham, especially when I added a slice of the grilled pineapple to it. I do have to mention it seemed most everything needed some salt, even the bacon wrapped items. All the carved meats were rubbed with herbs and salt which was delicious but as they cut further the seasoning was diminished or lost. I added the chimichurri from the biscuit and that helped a lot. Another thing to mention is the meat tends toward the rarer side. I love that but for my medium to well done loving friends it did prove a little challenging. The benefit to them was most often they ate the outside seasoned portions and all of them thought the seasoning was wonderful, especially on the lamb. On the service side, while the staff were attentive some still needed work on the menu. It would have been great when a new selection was brought to the table it was described a bit, the seasoning, preparation and the translation from Portuguese to English. Some were great others seemed a little shy and unsure. I believe this will be corrected as they gain more experience.
Finally, we had tried all we were able to and it was time for dessert. Our waiter was excited about this course. He said he loved all of the desserts but if he had to pick one it would be the flan. We went with his recommendation and boy were we happy. This caramel-y custard was firm without being tough and was just the right blend of vanilla and caramel flavors. The sauce was light and almost buttery and oh so delicious. It was a perfect ending to a fun meal.
Overall this was a great meal served by a friendly and upbeat staff. I will definitely be adding this to my list of go to restaurants.