Downhill? Pamplemousse Las Vegas
Had Valentine's Day dinner here last night and was incredibly disappointed. :(
It was a prix fixe (set) seven course menu. For the appetizer, I chose feuilleté of wild mushrooms & asparagus with vintage port sauce, The sauce was far too heavy for the delicate (and weak) mushrooms. It also had some gravy overtones that didn't sit well with me. Perhaps I should have gone with the lobster bisque with armagnac after all. My boyfriend had the crab cakes in mustard sauce which were very Gorton's fish sticks in a round shape. I would not be surprised if these were previously frozen and reheated! The coarse salad felt unfinished somehow, one raw mushroom cap filled with goat cheese, a couple hearts of romaine slathered with a dijon dressing and some hearts of palm. It was not well-prepared nor did it even blend well in your mouth - the salad seemed to be a haphazard last second invention that didn't quite execute. For the main entree, we had Jumbo Shrimp with scallop mousse COVERED in cognac lobster sauce. I was bothered by the amount of cream sauce on my plate - not for any dietary reasons but merely because it ruined the visual presentation for me. The shrimp was served with two stalks of carrots, blanched broccoli and three small roasted potatoes! So terribly uninspired! Carrots, broccoli and potatoes? I can make this stuff at home. My boyfriend had Filet of Beef Wellington which I will admit was rather good and cooked well but it certainly can not make up for the rest of the bland meal. The "special" dessert was a tri-chocolate cake wrapped in a sheet of chocolate with a chocolate wafer stuck on top (you've seen this before many, many times). It was a nice blend of mild, bitter and dark chocolate though I couldn't seem to get past the presentation. A few whipped cream clusters and some sliced strawberries with drizzled chocolate surrounded the cake. I suppose I expected something truly special like what I received at Todd's Unique Dining (the word "Todd's" precariously powdered on the plate) or the 24K gold and deep dark burgundy cake that Neiman Marcus served at a shopping event recently (and this was a comp!) or even just a simple lavender brulee. Pamplemousse is not high concept dining though and I had to keep reminding myself of this fact throughout the meal.
I was also annoyed by the wait staff. World class servers, they are not. They seemed to be stumbling and bumbling their way through the courses. They would also trip over their words and were not articulate enough to answer any questions other than the stock "I'll get that right away for you, sir". I mean, the service was pleasant enough but I did not feel we were getting the attention we deserved for a special night. We had no idea who our server was since our courses were dropped off by at least 4 different people, 3 of whom never said one word to us or anyone else in the restaurant.
I have a feeling it is a much different, perhaps better, experience on a regular night when the menu is read and explained to you.
Ambiance: alright but certainly wouldn't win any interior design awards, sort of cozy and small and intimate with nice low lighting, a silly fresh rose and ugly baby's breath on each table, Josh Groban for background music (not sure if this was selected for Valentine's Day specifically or if this is their standard background music). The restaurant is lovely enough IF the food stood out at all.
Total: $200 with tax & tip (sort of a bargain but not really once you know what you're in for).
P.S. Did I mention there was too much cream sauce which drowned everything on my plate!? Ay yi yi!
I try not to judge a restaurant based on a holiday dinner. Everything is just "off" I'd give it one more try before writing it off. We actually celebrated Valentine's on the 13th, just to avoid the dreaded set menu/bad service/packed restaurant perfect storm of bad dining experience.
Of course, having not tried this restaurant yet, maybe it's just bad!
as a semi-local, i try to frequent the local places and i bend over backwards to report positively on my experiences, if warranted....pamplemousse and andre's are recent experiences for me and i really have a soft spot in my heart for both of them given their long history within the community..but i guess when it's all said and done, they really need to re-invent themselves to survive...not sure if they will, as a member of the service industry i know you cannot rest on your laurel's ( i'm assuming they both had laurel's to rest on .)