In his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway introduced the world to bull fighting and the festival of San Fermines in honor of Saint Fermin in Pamplona; a festival otherwise known as the running of the bulls. Located 57 miles from the Spanish food mecca of San Sebastián, the city of Pamplona has made a name for itself as a city of passion and excitement. Pamplona, a Spanish tapas restaurant located at 631 Jefferson St., carries the same distinction. Blending elegance with rustic Spanish flavors, Pamplona is a gem in the Lafayette dining community.
Surrounded by prints of vintage bullfighting posters, the ambiance and decor of the dining area feels like a Spanish bistro outside of an arena; a place where you'd expect to see a man and a woman holding hands passionately over the flower centerpiece on the table.
You feel like a reveler. You just know that a man wearing ripped white garments with a red handkerchief around his neck will walk in at any moment to salute Saint Fermin with a celebratory drink.
Known for its small plates, tapas and cocktails and featuring an ever changing menu, Executive Chef David Harrower and Sous Chef Cory Trahan make the dining experience at Pamplona an entertaining one. While some items are menu staples, the daily special and seasonal items do make appearances.
Bill Gorton, a character from The Sun Also Rises, is known for his motto, "Never be daunted." Take a page from Bill's book and order in abundance at Pamplona. With its selection of small plates and one or two bite tapas, you will find yourself wanting more as soon as you finish one dish. Do not be apprehensive; order multiple plates at once.
The Bacon Wrapped Dates are a good start. Stuffed with Valdeon blue cheese and served over almond sauce, these sweet and savory bites are good enough for dessert.
Morcilla-Quail Eggs taste like breakfast in every bite. The in-house black boudin is crispy on the outside. Paired with the soft fried quail egg, it is the perfect start to a long night.
For a larger portion option, try Mussels in a Five Onion Coconut Broth was light and refreshing. The onions, which had been stewed in the coconut broth were tender yet full of flavor. Make sure to dip the buttery garlic bread in the sweet, aromatic broth.
If you are looking for something a little heartier, the Half a Hanger sous vide steak is an excellent choice. It came with high recommendations from the staff and it is obvious why. The rich, buttery steak is cooked perfectly. The low and slow cooking process of sous vide infuses flavor without damaging the meat with high temperatures.
Probably the best in the city, the Mac-n-Smoked Gouda with pancetta is perfect on multiple levels. The creamy, salty treasure is baked under a lid of cheese. Break open the bubbly top and be prepared for the ensuing cheese and carb coma.
Save room for a wide selection of desserts. Round out your night with Apple Bread Pudding topped with a cinnamon gelato. The gelato melts into every nook and cranny giving you a taste of cinnamon with every warm satisfying bite.
Can't make up your mind? Perhaps a trio of House Made Gelatos or Sorbets will suit your fancy. The Fig, Pear with Honey, and Rose Petal trio was delicious. Ask your server which flavors are available.
It's no secret that Papa (as Hemingway was affectionately called) indulged quite a bit with dry martinis. He was also fond of absinthe. Discover your inner Noble Prize winning author with a wide selection of the previously illegal libation as well as twists on classic cocktails and an extensive wine list.
In Chapter 14 Hemingway pens,
"Enjoying living was learning to get your money's worth and knowing when you had it."
There is no doubt Hemingway had an experience like that of Pamplona Tapas Bar in mind when he wrote that line. Pamplona is an enjoyable dining environment perfect for an intimate evening, a casual bite with coworkers or drinks with friends. For those reasons, it is an "Eat This, Lafayette" hot spot.
Like Pamplona Tapas Bar on Facebook and visit their website HERE for full menus, hours of operation and more information.
Pamplona Tapas Bar
631 Jefferson St.
Lafayette, LA 70501