Pampas Argentinas Forest Hills
We tried this addition to the revitalizing Metropolitan Avenue dining scene. It was good. The menu is that of a straightforward, classic Argentinian steakhouse, with some pasta, fish and chicken selections. Therefore we used the excellent La Porteña in Jackson Heights as a benchmark for comparison (how could we not?). This review is based on only one visit.
The place is in a storefront, the front opened wide onto Metropolitan Avenue. Wooden and cast iron, bright, pleasant, standard layout. Service was very good.
Prices were higher than La Porteña, most beef entrees between $22 and $30. To test a range we ordered the mixed grill (parrillada) for two, at $39.50; for one it is $27.50 where that entree is, I think $20 at La Porteña. Arriving on a charcoal-heated pan, we had standard offerings of morcilla, pork sausage, sweetbreads, beef short ribs, skirt steak, and a skewer of steak and vegetables. Definitely more than enough food for two. The prime cuts here (ribs, skirt steak, skewer) compared extremely well with La Porteña; in fact I found the ribs to be better and meatier. Skirt steak was delicious, with nice char on the edges and some crisped parts as well as juicy meaty sections; this cut is great both ways. The meats were done as we ordered them. The other parts sharing the grill were, however, fairly disapppointing: the morcilla was filled with far too many chewy chunks of fat and I didn't want to eat it (and I am a big fan of morcilla); the pork sausage was dry and without enough spices/seasonings; the sweetbreads had some nicely crispy bits but were too chewy for the most part. The accompanying fries were decidedly mediocre (rice or mashed potatoes were also an option).
The chimichurri was quite good; also compares favorably with La Porteña's (my dining companion actually liked it better).
We also ordered a watercress/onion/tomato salad, which was excellent except for typical bland tomato slices.
The wine list offered a nice range of reasonably priced, mostly Argentinian wines. Our Finca La Florencia Malbec ($32) was perfect with the meat.
From the small dessert menu we tried the dulce de leche crepes, which were nice.
Summary: A great addition to the neighborhood. They seem to know what they are doing with the steaks, but focus on the prime cuts, ribs, and skirt steak; get your morcilla in Jackson Heights.
I went with my family and we all thought this place was awesome! It's so beautiful inside- they even opened up a skylight. The food is excellent with top quality ingredients which is what seperates it in my opinion from Boca Juniors and even La Portena. Everything we tried was wonderful including the empanadas, provoleta, steak, milanesa and the salmon. With it's quaint atmosphere and wonderful food there's no doubt it's a great addition find.
How were the empanadas? While the comparison of steaks is critical, we like a really good empanda too and often we've found those aren't so great at various Argentine spots. The prices you mention do seem higher than some other spots. Have you been to Boca Juniors on Queens Blvd? The decor is a bit on the tacky side (though you can always watch a good game on the flat screen TVs and there's always some diners cheering), but the prices and portions are great. Some of the steaks we've had there have been very good, a few others just ok. They make a terrific Milanesa, however. Well fried and huge. Service is friendly and the place can be fun.