When Pampa first entered Edmonton’s dining scene, some foodies were a little wary. While they were excited about having a Brazilian barbecue place in the city, they wondered if Edmonton was the right target market for a high-end, all-you-can-eat meat place. Would the novelty fizzle out? So far, it hasn’t.
While people often rave about the salad bar at Pampa – the huge selection of greens is astounding – it’s always mentioned with a tone of surprise. It’s because we all go to Pampa for one reason – the meat, the steak in particular. Top sirloin, bottom sirloin, rib-eye and rumpsteak are all slow roasted over a Brazilian rotisserie grill using lump hardwood charcoal. It results in deliciously juicy meat with a smoky flavour. And it’s not just the flavour that makes the meat unique; it’s the way it’s served. The grill masters are trained in the correct way to cut the different types of meat, resulting in perfectly sliced steak each time, served right at your table. The salad bar is beautiful, but let’s not pretend it can compete with the main course. -Caroline Barlott 9929 109 St., 780-756-7030, pampasteakhouse.com
Runner-Up: THE MARC
When you dine at a French establishment, you expect perfection from your steak. The Marc, a beloved downtown restaurant, never disappoints. While the amount of beef on its menu is limited to one steak on the lunch menu and steak tartare and Entrecote frites in the evening, each item is done exactly right. The grilled bavette is a succulent flank steak, sliced into sections over a bed of piping hot roasted potatoes and wilted spinach. Dip a juicy bite of precisely cooked meat into the smoked red pepper aioli that accompanies it to add a sweet twist. Let each piece melt in your mouth, and repeat. -Sydnee Bryant 9940 106 St., 780-429-2828, themarc.ca
Honourable Mention: RGE RD
RGE RD features only one type of steak on its menu but you never know what it will be until you arrive. Chef Blair Lebsack buys his beef from Nature’s Green Acres, a small farm just south of Viking, Alta. The night we go to RGE RD, the steak option is nouveau beef, which our server explains is basically flank steak from a young steer. The sizeable cut comes medium rare, accompanied by grilled kohlrabi, mashed potatoes and a hearty beef and mushroom ragout. The tender meat is succulent and sizeable – perfect when accompanied by a glass of red vino. -S.B. 10643 123 St., 780-447-4577, rgerd.ca