Yippee! San Diego Restaurant Week is in full swing, and I've had the pleasure of trying out one of the dozens of participating restaurants, Pamplemousse Grille, located in Solana Beach.
I'm a big fan of French restaurants, and I have been hearing about Pamplemousse for years from locals, so I decided that with an SDRW menu, it was time to check it out. That's what SDRW is all about, checking out new places.
A basket of gourmet bread was brought out and enjoyed, which included mini cheddar and chive biscuits and jalapeno cornbread muffins. I did my best to not overindulge on the bread, as I knew that we would have good stuff coming!
Restaurant Week's model is to provide diners with three courses of the restaurants' best offerings. For our first course, we went with the fresh tomato and fennel soup, with Maryland lump crab. The bowl was huge, and the soup was very good. The fennel added a lot of flavor, and although I am generally not a fan of fennel, I really liked it in this soup.
The watermelon salad was my first course, and featured fresh spinach and arugula, watermelon (duh), grilled artichokes, and toasted goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar dressing. The salad was good, but lacking any wow factor, and was huge for a first course.
On to the main course! The butter poached sole was served atop white asparagus and carrots, and covered with a lemon-vinegar cream sauce. It was quite good, with snow crab accenting the delicate fish.
The other entree (funny that the French use this word for appetizers--just a bit of trivia) was the roasted duck. This entree was huge, with two large pieces of duck, grilled sweet corn, sauteed French green beans, and drizzled with a cherry balsamic reduction. The duck was quite tasty, but was a bit stringy and overcooked. I would have preferred a smaller but better prepared portion. The vegetables were very good, and the sweet corn was such a treat!
Restaurants always offer dessert during SDRW! Our choices tonight were the triple berry brioche bread pudding with orange creme anglaise and Grand Marnier whipped cream, and the chocolate truffle cake. The bread pudding was a cold bread pudding, which I've never had before. It was very fresh and the whipped cream was divine.
Our other choice was the warm chocolate truffle cake with caramel creme anglaise and vanilla gelato. I was dying for chocolate, and this rich dessert was just what what the doctor ordered! The cake was a lava cake, with a warm, melty center, and the gelato was perfect to cut the richness of the chocolate. A perfect end!
The meal as a whole was quite good, but the restaurant itself seems to be in a bit of an identity crisis. For example, Pamplemousse styles itself as a French restaurant, yet the cuisine is decidedly Southern Californian, with huge portions and more emphasis on presentation than content. The food in itself was well presented and tasty, but lacking in the wow factor, for the most part. For the price, not somewhere that I be quick to dine with again.