Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pamplemousse Grille Chef Celebration Dinner

I am so happy I discovered the Chefs Celebration dinner series! And Pamplemousse Grille. The menu for the dinner was posted here and there were only a few minor changes when we got to the restaurant. This was another one of those restaurants kind of tucked into a little office park, but it's just across from the race track so easy to find. It seemed like a pretty busy place but I am not sure if that was for the dinner or if that was normal for a Tuesday night. The bar looks like fun, but we will have to come back another time to give it a try. The seating was a bit crowded but they were obviously booked full and we never felt rushed. The decor is kind of nondescript but elegant, and I did really like the few large paintings they had on the walls. (Pigs, guys in a bar, chefs in an alley?) They can be seen on the Pamplemousse Grille website if you click around. :-)

We were served a (fresh) bread basket with 3 kinds of bread - corn muffin, biscuit, and a regular sliced white something-or-other. All were warm and delicious. The amuse, a "galantine", was something new for us. I didn't love it, kind of strange texture and maybe too much chicken compared to the rest of the flavors? But overall it tasted good. My boyfriend enjoyed it. He's a meatasaurus. We both liked the "Frangelico citrus caviar". Very Top Chef style. :-) We ate them before I remembered the camera. (doh - also, I apologize in advance for my poor photo quality, I felt too close to the next table to be taking multiple shots of everything.)

In order to taste as much as possible we ordered both 1st course options and both 2nd course options. We both really enjoyed the mushroom bisque. It was VERY rich, with really earthy flavors, and a swirl of truffle oil on top. mmmmm... Perfect with a little bread toward the end to lighten it up a little bit. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

The second option for 1st course was a shrimp/scallop dish. It was served in a bowl of cream colored broth that was very light, which we assumed was the "ginger foam" but I couldn't be positive. In any case it was yummy. The flavor of the broth was very fresh and offset the heavy shrimp and scallop bites well.

For the second course we had two different kinds of saffron risotto. Yummmmy saffron risotto! Apparently I love that stuff. This course was produced by the Pamplemousse Grille team so I am hopeful that it is something on their regular menu. I would definitely order it again. The one I tasted first was with grilled quail and mushrooms. It made me laugh (quietly) when it arrived with a tiny quail leg and thigh (on the tiny bone). The mushrooms were delicious but super strong! I am, truly, a cooked mushroom lover but these were almost too many, or the flavor was just too strong. We had to leave a few mushroom pieces on the plate. But I scooped up all the risotto. The one my boyfriend started with had butter poached lobster (wow...just wow) and baby artichokes. It was just fabulous from start to finish. The lobster was amazing and the artichoke blended perfectly with the risotto and it was all just a delicious flavor party in our mouths. This was my FAVORITE thing of the night. (and the pic was horrible so I don't even want to post it, but trust me, DEEELISH!!)

My boyfriend ordered the Halibut entree. I am not a big fish eater but the bite I had, with some potato, was good. Mild and well cooked. He said it was a good plate of food but everything else we had that night was more interesting. I ordered the Beef Duo, which we both LOVED. The steak was SO tender and it really melted in your mouth. The short rib had a sweet/smoky sauce that was perfect. I was a little disappointed in the truffle cheddar cauliflower puree, I didn't taste much cheddar or truffle. Maybe I should have eaten some of it before and/or without the steak to get a better idea. There's always next time.

Dessert was a Plum Crisp, Warm Chocolate Caramel Cake & Tonka Bean Gelato. All three were excellent. The crisp had the right amount of pastry/crisp and fruit. The cake was rich and thick without being heavy, and the caramel (salted I think, maybe?) on the bottom gave it a little moisture and sweetness. The gelato flavor, Tonka bean, was new to both of us. Kind of a coffee/chocolate/cinnamon flavor. Really good also.

Overall we had a great evening and are definitely looking forward to coming again on a regular night to try out some other dishes and maybe hit up the bar.
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