April 8, 2010


Years ago, Frank and I dined at Samba inside Mirage. Our meal was cut short when we were served raw chicken. We spoke to the manager and explained our loss of appetite. Their apologies were offered and they invited us back another time, but we declined.

Tuesday, I cashed in my birthday massage and enjoyed the spa facilities at Bally's. Afterwards, I met Frank for dinner at Pampas Brazilian Grille. Enough time had passed we were ready to give the Brazilian Steakhouse experience another go.

The restaurant is tucked away in the Miracle Mile shops. I'd guess it doesn't get much business from passersby, rather diners must be seeking the place out. Whatever the case, the restaurant was busy, we had to wait a few minutes for a table to be cleared. The atmosphere of the restaurant was nicer than I expected. I preferred it over Samba.

We ordered the Surf & Turf Rodizio ($49.95) and the Meat Rodizio ($38.95) figured we save a few dollars by sharing the seafood items. We were instructed to visit the salad bar and then flip our coaster to green when we were ready for the meats.

The menu boasts 40 hot and cold dishes on the salad bar. I walked away with artichoke hearts, tomatoes and mozzarella, and two mystery fried items. Nothing is marked at the salad bar. I consider myself an adventurous eater, but I prefer to know what I am scooping onto my plate... this goes for all salad bars and buffets. Frank tried the rice and beans and potato salads, neither of which I care for, so I lacked carbs. Well, besides the fried items which were deep fried banana bites and some sort of dumpling.

Next, we started the meat parade. We had Picanha, filet with Parmesan crust, pork loin, chicken - hot and bbq, ham, sausage, turkey wrapped in bacon, pineapple, and lamb... we were served in that order. We repeated the Picanha, filet, and ham. We practically had to beg for the lamb, it took three requests before it was brought to the table.

For the most part the meats were good. It was only the sausage that I absolutely did not like. The pork loin was very fatty, I had a tiniest piece of actual meat. The turkey was extremely tender and juicy, but the bacon was underdone. However, it is likely the turkey would be overcooked if the bacon were to crisp up.

The pineapple was welcomed and much appreciated after all those meats the saltiness had really built up, I desperately needed to refresh my palette. The pineapple served this purpose beautifully. While I imagine it was grilled, it was not served to us warm. It was closer to room temperature. It was fine by me, I actually wished I asked for two slices. Thankfully, my husband is a dear... and he doesn't care for pineapple much, so I finished his slice.

The Seafood platter was brought out after our second or third meat. It was timely. The presentation wasn't anything special, but this isn't the place for beautiful food. In fact, every photo I took of the meats was unappealing, but I digress.

M'mmm chicken. No, not if you eat with your eyes.

The surf consisted of shrimp glazed with butter, scallops in butter, grilled salmon and tempura cod. When we placed our order the waitress informed us the menu needs to be updated, the scallops are no longer wrapped in bacon. That nearly dissuaded Frank in ordering the Surf & Turf, but I nudged him to give it a try, anyway. Big mistake. The seafood was BAD, Bad, bad. I couldn't even choke down a scallop, I spit it out. The shrimp were rubbery, the salmon was nearly jerky and the cod was bland and the tempura was hardly intact. They offered to bring another plate, but we refused. We added that we didn't like it.

Our experience was far better than at Samba. However, after dining at Pampas, I'm reluctant to try Texas De Brazil despite a number of raves from friends. I really don't think the Churrascaria experience is one I enjoy. As much as I love meat, this is too much. I really missed my carbs. It's clear that Atkins will never be a choice for me.


Dave P. said...

I went to Pampas sometime within the first year they were open. I was a little disappointed. The service was a slow, even with a mostly empty restaurant. And they seemed to be pushing the wine menu, which we continued to decline over and over. The hot/cold bar was good, the meats were so-so.

I had good experiences with Samba - in both trips there. I thought the meats, the side dishes brought to the table, and the service were excellent. But I didn't have your raw chicken experience. I remember really loving the salad and the bread, as well as the meats.

I would pass on Pampas again, but I would go back to Samba. But I would take a good look at the chicken :-)

Kellee said...

I'd say the meats were the best part of the meal. There was no pressure from the staff. Still, I wouldn't return. And I'd only recommend it for those who are truly meat fanatics.

I'm sure Samba is good. They've been around forever. They must be doing something right. All restaurants experience an oops at some point, it just so happened we witnessed it at Samba first hand.