There are plenty of restaurants around town that make one wonder just how they've been able to stick around on the dining scene so long. Pomme Restaurant is definitely not a part of this group. The Clayton mainstay just turned 10 this year, and our recent visit drove home just why they've succeeded for a decade in one of the most competitive dining neighborhoods in town.
Stepping inside Pomme on a blustery fall evening was like finding a warm, well-lighted oasis. The brick walls and wooden floors, combined with the mellow lighting and classic jazz playing through the sound system, evoked a comfortable sophistication with just a hint of the rustic. We could've been happy spending the evening just nipping on a glass of The Macallan 18 ($18) and a half-bottle of Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($26) and soaking up the ambience. But duty called, and we delved into the food menu with customary abandon.
From First Courses, the Gnocchi ($9) at the top of the list immediately caught our eye. These tender potato dumplings were served alongside a mild tomato confit and some fresh mozzarella for a light but flavorful start to the meal. The Carrot Flan ($11), was striking both on the plate and the palette, a sweet, delicate orange custard complemented both visually and taste-wise by an earthy pea ravioli, a spray of wild mushrooms and just a touch of savory shaved Parma-Reggiano. It was good to see something usually reserved for the dessert list reinterpreted as a starter.
From Salads, the Mixed Lettuce with Mushroom Tart ($11), proved an interesting departure from the usual salad offerings. It combined lightly dressed greens and a flaky pastry filled with a variety of delicate, tasty mushrooms. This dish was hearty enough that it could have easily been included on the entree list at many places. Not heavy, mind you, but substantial.
The Lamb Tenderloin ($36) proved to be the peak of the meal, a melange of thick slices of meat fanned out on a bed of al dente fettuccine with supple stalks of broccoli on the side. The lamb was well cooked, tender and just a bit chewy—but not sinewy or tough, as can be the case. The Tournedos of Filet Mignon ($36) came out a beautiful rosy medium rare, placed just so over some pasta-like strips of squash. The potato croquet served on the side struck just the right balance between crispy and creamy, and was contrasted by a tasty, tangy roasted onion.
Though the crème brûlée called to us, we decided to end the meal judiciously with a couple of scoops of the house-made Lemon Coriander Sorbet ($7).
While there is no hard-and-fast formula for guaranteed success in the restaurant business, Pomme has certainly hit upon a blueprint that seems to work for them: good food expertly prepared and a convivial, welcoming atmosphere. Here's to another 10 and then some!
40 N. Central Ave., 727-4141, pommerestaurants.com