Brandon Hernández 8:18 a.m., May 21
The illustrious-sounding Pamplemousse Grille in Solana Beach is not cheap, but Chef/Owner Jeffrey Strauss does his best to assure that you get what you pay for. The service is outstanding, and it definitely feels like a high-end affair. I recently had the good fortune to be invited to a luncheon held at Pamplemousse. The diners in my party were presented with a pre-fixe menu that allowed us to taste several dishes in one sitting.
As we gathered at the bar, we enjoyed pass-around hors d'oeuvres (as part of the lunch-party package purchased by the luncheon's host). The first tasty bites to appear were duck tacos in crispy wanton shells. Sesame seeds, citrus, and a peppery kick, along with the lean duck and crunch of the shell made this an ideal appetite whetter.
Next up were tuna, wasabi, and tobiko on potato crisps. I skipped this one because I wasn't in a wasabi sort of mood, but the speed with which they disappeared from the tray told me all I needed to know about their yummy factor.
The piping hot parmesan paste on the top of these puffs was rich, which made their size perfect.
Once seated, we chose our courses. For my first, I got the trio of soups (tomato fennel, truffled asparagus, and butternut squash). I like the idea of a trio of soup, offering a variety of flavors. But if I had to order just one, it would definitely be the tomato fennel.
David got the kimchee seafood salad with lobster, shrimp, and jumbo lump crab. He said it was milder in flavor than one might have expected. "The taste of kimchee was practically nonexistent." Which would have been fine with me, I'm not a fan of that particular Korean flavor.
For my main dish, I got the crispy Jidori chicken breast with French beans and roasted tri-color potatoes in a lemon sauce. I found it odd that the green beans were cold. Not room temp, but cold, so I could only assume this was intended. The chicken was tender and juicy, and very hot, as were the potatoes. The sauce was nice and light. Surprising bean temperature aside, I was very pleased with my selection.
David (ever my dining companion), ordered the basil roasted salmon with asparagus polenta cake.
To my left, was the Kobe burger, everything truffle-ized (which was the only thing that kept me from ordering it, but I was so happy with my chicken dish it didn't matter).
Just when we thought we couldn't possibly eat another bite, we received a dessert that demanded we lick the plate. The pear tarte-tatin with vanilla gelato and berries was hot, crispy (puff pastry), and caramelized, and the house-made gelato was the perfect compliment.