Apparently half of Calgary decided to check out Pampa’s BOGO event, ending November 14, 2015. We got a last minute reservation for 7:15 on a Saturday night and were told that the night before they had 330 customers! Wow! Everyone loves a good deal I guess!
This was our first time here, and we were able to compare it to Gaucho Brazilian BBQ near Chinook Mall. Our recollection of Gaucho (having been there twice) was a dark, romantic type setting. Tampa’s is definitely the opposite – very large, bright, and open, with lots of windows. The atmosphere is very busy and somewhat loud. You can see right into the kitchen where the skewers of meat are always cooking, which is kind of neat. Apparently Pampa uses charcoal heat to cook the meat, whereas Gaucho uses gas. We could taste a difference – Pampa had more flavour.
Our server was very friendly and courteous. She explained the process well. We ordered Q water at $2 per person. If you don’t like paying for water, as for tap water. The gaucho’s were friendly and when we asked for lamb they took care of it.
We started small at the salad bar, grabbing just a bit of carbs (mashed potatoes and focaccia bread), some veggies and sauces. The majority of the veggies were served cold (asparagus, beets, roasted tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, etc.) and there were various lettuces, oils, vinegars and housemade dressings. There was quite a variety of food at the salad bar, including some other hot foods like rice, beef stroganoff, beans and hot mixed veggies. The beef carpaccio was a nice treat. Upon returning to our table with our first plates, we were served the bottle of wine we ordered (aerated and decanted in front of us – a nice touch) and the freshly baked cheesy dough balls (I can’t remember what they’re called, but they’re YUM).
Once we turned over the discs, the meat started coming. There were quite a few things wrapped in bacon – I think there was ham, pork, beef and chicken. There were a number of beef dishes, lamb and sausage. So many things to try! Don’t forget to try the sauces with the meats – the housemade chimichuri was our fave.
Even being horribly full, we still had to try dessert. We shared the fresh papaya with vanilla ice cream & cassis liqueur for $12. It was really good… however, now I want to make it myself in my new Vitamix! We also had a delicious alcohol treat – a 2 ounce sipping liqueur (too bad I can’t remember what it’s called and it doesn’t stand out for me on the online menu) that they freeze in a brick of ice and serve table side by standing on a stool and pouring it into the glass from way up high. This approach apparently aerates it and makes it taste more delicious.
We totally recommend Pampa. Even at the regular $45 pp price, it would be a fun place to bring family or friends from out of town (as long as they really like meat!). If you’re not a big meat eater, I really wouldn’t try this place unless they offer a salad bar only option.