When thinking about Las Vegas, most people will say: gambling, drinking and sex. But Sin City has changed over the years and has a lot more to offer now. Of course the casinos and gentlemen’s clubs are still there, but beyond those, you’ll find great hotels, worldclass shows and amazingly good restaurants. During my first visit to Las Vegas in the nineties, restaurants was the “all-you-can-eat” buffets for $4.99 or $ 6.99 and Marie Callenders for breakfast, but these days, top chefs from all over the world have found their way to Las Vegas.
I am not a gambler, but for the past several years I have truely enjoyed my trips to Las Vegas and I have had some of the best meals and nights out there. During my last trip to Las Vegas I found a real gem. A small French restaurant just of the far end of the strip across the street from the Sahara Hotel, in a little strip mall next door to a tattoo parlor. Walking passed the tattoo parlor wondering if we had the wrong address, we all of a sudden spotted the sign “Pamplemousse”. We hesitated before entering the little building with the pink neon sign. “is this a nightclub or a restaurant” we wondered. But once inside we were happily surprised: cozy and initmate are the best words to describe Pamplemousse. The restaurant is small, only about 10-15 tables, low ceilings, mirrors and pictures on the walls and nice crips white table linen.
The Maitre D escorted us to our table and our waiter came over immediately asking us if we had dined with them before. We told him we were first timers. and that walking up to the restaurant, looking at the tattoo parlor next door, we had had our doubts. He smiled and told us that they had been on this same location since the owner had founded it 35 years before and the owner was still there and the same chef he had hired and trained a couple of years after he started.
On the website it had mentioned a fix price 3 course menu of $ 38 with several choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Because we were there during a convention, they did not have the fix price menu, only a la carte. We browsed the menu and I realized I only had one problem: I wished I could order everything on the menu as it all sounded wonderful. My problem became even bigger when our waiter came back to inform us about the specials. After a long debate with myself and with some help from the waiter I decided on one of the specials for my appetizer and the duck for the main course. And I was not disappointed.
But first came a basket with vegetables for the table with a vinaigrette dipping sauce and french bread. And when I say french bread I mean real french bread: thin, warm, crisp on the outside and soft and fresh on the inside. Then came the appetizers. Mine was a seafood medley in a lobster sause over a piece of puff pastry. Sinfully rich, but delicious. A good thing that the portion was not too big or I would not have been able to eat the rest of the dinner. My main course of duck came with a duck leg in addition to the thin slices of duck breast. The breast was prepared perfectly pink and served in a raspberry sauce. We had ordered vegetables and “frites” for the table and shared a bottle of shyraz with it.
Some of us couldn’t resist dessert and ordered the profiterolles. I like profiterolles and had to at least have a bite. Although I prefer them with cream instead of icecream, they were very nice, the chocolate rich, dark and warm. I love food, specially French food and I have to say that Pamplemousse is a great little find and I am still debating whether I should recommend it and promote it or keep it my own little secret.