I picked out Pampas for lunch as it serves lunch steaks for only about $10, and with my husband still on his low-carb diet, this seemed like a place we could both enjoy. It’s in Lafayette Village, which my GPS can’t find very well. But if you have GPS like mine, just look for the European-style mall area at the corner of Falls of Neuse and Honeycutt.
I walked by the restaurant before my husband pointed it out to me, since the signage still says “Village Market”. But on the doors it does say Pampas, with a little old-fashioned “Open” sign. I’m not thrilled with the name, since Pampas looks like it would sound like the word “pompous”. Apparently it’s pronounced more like “Pampers”, which is probably worse.
We were told upon entering to sit anywhere we like, so we chose a booth back in the far side of the restaurant, to get a good view of it all. Unfortunately I think the curtained area nearby is hiding something like a new construction area where they might be putting in a dance floor or something. It sounded like someone was slamming a microwave door about every 20 seconds. It may have been a nail gun.
My husband ordered the Argentinean Style Skirt Steak for his entree, which came with 2 sides. He wanted the house salad and the soup of the day, but they said the soup was not an option for a side. So instead he only chose 1 side and ordered a cup of soup separately. Most of their sides aren’t low-carb friendly (rice, fries, potatoes). I ordered the Cuban Pork Sandwich, as it’s one of my husband’s favorites, and I figured if we ever got to come back here after his diet, that’s what he would order. It was listed as having fries or plantains with it, or maybe both, but I can’t remember exactly what the menu said. I also ordered a cup of the soup of the day with mine.
We were served some toasted Cuban bread as a free appetizer, which was nice. It was crunchy without being tough, and soft and warm through most of it. I would have preferred butter instead of olive oil though.
My husband’s salad came out next. It was at this point we realized we didn’t have any utensils yet. So we had to wait until the waitress came back before he could start eating. It was pretty typical for a house salad, but I tasted the vinaigrette and I though it tasted better than average.
My husband got his entree next. At this time I was wondering if we should cancel the soup orders. He said the steak was very good for a $10 steak, perfectly cooked and seasoned. However it was a bit difficult to cut with the butter knife.
We got both our soups a few minutes later. The cups were very small, and the chicken and vegetable soup was very bland for being $3.75 a cup. I was expecting some exotic South American spices, but it tasted like Campbell’s. I wouldn’t get the soup in the future.
Finally my Cuban sandwich came out. It looked very good, but very lonely on the plate all by itself. I asked the waitress if it was supposed to come with fries or something, and she said she’d come back to me. A few minutes later she said that yes, it did, and she’d be right back. In the meantime I tried the sandwich and it tasted very good. I thought the roasted pork was very moist and tender. When the fries came out they were very, very hot, freshly made, and good. I just wish they would have come with the sandwich in the first place. The meal ended up being very good, and for only $7.50 I even had half the sandwich left and some fries left for dinner in the evening.
I have a few suggestions for the owner as to how they can improve their restaurant for future visitors. First, have people seated by the waitress. I only expect to seat myself at McDonald’s. Make sure all settings are on the table in advance. It looks nicer to have fully set tables instead of bare ones anyhow. Serve steak knives with the steaks. Make sure your appetizers like soups and salads come out well before the entrees. Serve the entrees at the same time for all members of the table. Make sure all the entrees have the sides they’re supposed to before serving them. Other than the service issues, the food is actually quite good, and I hope they do well for themselves.
I’d love to come back in a month and see if they’ve been able to fix some of these problems, but unfortunately Lafayette Village is a bit of a long drive for me. I do hope they’re able to make things work out, and if I’m in the area again, I’d love to try their dinner or brunch menu.