An Apology to Pahrump
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Over the course of the past week, I have been taking pot-shots at the mid-sized, little town of Pahrump.
I'm going to have to back off a step or two, because we found, out back and way off the main road (NV 160), a restaurant that could play with the big boys in New York, Tokyo, Munich, London, Salzburg, Zurich, New Orleans, Melbourn, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, and Las Vegas (I'm sure there are some really GREAT restaurants in other cities as well, but these are the cities I have eaten in that have places at the top of my list).
The name of the restaurant, just in case you are ever in Pahrump or drive out from Las Vegas, is Thomasino's, an Italian Restaurante.
You drive up to the front and there aren't really that many parking spots. So how many people can they get in to this place?
The front of the Restaurant actually looks like a nice restaurant you would find, up off the shore of an Italian beach.
The Maitre'd is at the front door, on the outside, waiting for you. In this case, he complimented my wife's attire and opened the very heavy, polished cherry doors. Each door was 10' high and 4' wide - big. He took us to the Hostess Stand, and picked up two menus. The Hostess picked up two wine glasses, took the menus from him and escorted us to the table.
She told us who our server would be for the night, and as she turned to the right to go back to the Hostess Stand, our server stepped from her left. Already, I was going, hmmm.
Let me digress. As we came into the restaurant, there was a choice of setting at a bar that was one long piece of marble (approximately 40' long and at least 3' deep, framed in four inches of polished cherry),- my eyebrows rose. The bar stools were padded leather, and again made of cherry wood. If the bar stand floor hadn't been highly polished marble, it would have taken my brother and I both to move one of those giants away from the bar. The mirror was etched in an elaborate design all around.
The second choice for seating was at a four-top (table for four), again fashioned from cherry wood. Each of these tables was topped by a 3' slab of marble bordered by 4' of cherry. The chairs were of the same high quality as the bar stools, except closer to the ground.
As we followed the Hostess to our table (I'll describe that momentarily), we passed a Band Stand that had a Steinway Grand Piano at one end. In front of the Band Stand was a floor for dancing that was approximately 40'x40'. The floor appeared to be either slightly roughened cherry, or possibly walnut
The third choice of seating was at raised booths. Again, the table was a Slab of marble, framed in cherrywood. If we hadn't guessed from the table top, you knew you were somewhere when you sat on heavily padded, heavy duty leather. I told my wife I just might sleep there after dinner.
Back to our server. Obviously never having seen us before, she introduced herself to us and got our names. I'm not even really sure how she did it because I almost never give my name to a stranger - even in a high class restaurant.
She took my wife's wine order and my order for water with lemon (Bob, would you care for plain or bubbling water?) There was a full bottle of Peregrino's at the table that looked decorative - there was one at every booth and table, so flippantly, I asked for Peregrino's. She told us she would give us some time to look at the appetizers and would be back.
Appetizers. Appetizers? The ones I can remember were Toasted Ravioli on a Pesto Sauce Base; Giant Shrimp wrapped in Italian Ham, braised with a Garlic and Herbal Butter Sauce, then grilled over a mesquite fire; Fried Calamari drizzled with a demi-glas of Rosemary, Blush Zinfandel and a whipped Balsamic Vinaigrette. There were five more, but my eyes glazed over and my memory is blank.
Our server returned with my wife's wine and an ice bucket with a corked bottle of Peragrino's on ice. My wine glass was filled with ice and the first glass of Peregrino's had been poured.
Main Entrées ranged from anything you had ever heard about fine Italian to things I had never associated with Italian dining. Medallions of beef or pork tenderloin; Seafood from fresh lobster to shrimp, scallops, oysters, Mahi-Mahi, Swordfish, etc. Freshwater fish was limited to Brown and Rainbow trout and Salmon. All of the fish options were flown in fresh, daily. There was chicken served as Chicken Isabella (my wifes choice), which was cooked in a lemon butter and cream sauce with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. I chose the Chicken Spedini which was dipped in milk then dredged in a combination of flour and toasted bread crumbs with dried garlic, then baked and served on a light dressing made with Extra Virgin Olive oil, traditional Italian spices with a touch of dried, flaked, red bell pepper (I have never even heard of dried, flaked, red bell pepper)
Both meals came with Garlic or Sourdough Bread and Real Butter, whipped new potatoes with garlic, vegetable of the day or . . . . ., and a salad with a whipped balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (at least three types of lettuce, including a red lettuce I didn't recognize, fresh spinach leaves, three of four fresh onion slices that must have been cut on a meat slicer (about 1/16" thick), and a slightly thicker splash of red cabbage. Of course, fresh ground pepper and ground parmesian were added at the table.
There were four desserts, but she didn't get past Tiramasu. If you come here, this is a desert for four. If your eyes don't roll back in your head while sharing this, you may not have taste buds in your mouth.
Halfway through dinner, the sounds of the Grand started tinkling through the restaurant. Great. Some soft music. Then the piano player started to sing.
Holy jumping thunder rocks! I thought I was in San Francisco and Tony Bennett had slipped in! The guy was really good. After a couple of songs, he was joined by a percussionist and a saxophone player. A few more songs and he was asking for requests when the owner interrupted him. A female 'friend of his' was coming in shortly and she would be singing. I vaguely recognized her name, it turned out she was a long-time, semi-famous, Jazz Lounge singer from Las Vegas. Before she even got there, an older gentlemen just walked in and asked if he could "set in" with his bass sax.
He was flat out astounding. After a song, he and the owner started bantering with each other and it turned out He was a well known jazz saxophonist who had "wandered in" from San Francisco. I probably should have known his name, but I'm not that much of a jazz fan.
One final thing before we went home.
Yes. I had to use the men's room.
The entry was another one of those huge doors like the one at the main entry.
I walked in, and had to pass the "lavatory" before I reached the 'facilities'. An 8'x1' slab of marble hung under an 8' mirror. On the wall stand were soft, white cotton towels. High Quality Egyptian, gazillion count threads; not Walmart quality.
Under the stand was another 8' slab of marble, 4' deep and tipped downward towards the back, disappearing below a 3' slab of marble. The handles were burnished copper, heavy duty burnished copper, not plated. When you ran the water, it disappeared under the wall slab and went . . . ?
Turning the corner, I saw two cast marble urinals. The flush arrangement was the same style burnished copper.
After I washed my hands, I couldn't help it. I opened the stall door and there was a molded marble commode.
I have never been so blown away in my life. If this place was off a side street in any of the fabulous cities in which I have had the terrific opportunity to dine, it would be roped off with lines around the block. Occasionally, a formally dressed couple would be allowed in. AFTER the few, the proud, the limousined had been escorted in, of course.
I was talking with a looonngg time relator in the area today and he understood me, even when my voice shook and tears flowed from my eyes.
Yes, it was nice, very nice. It was owned by one of the Three families that had controlling interest in the entire town of Pahrump and the valley that crossed I-15 to almost Reno, and width wise from the Spring Mountains to the mumbleIdidn'tcatchit Mountains (on the other side of the California border) next to the great Mohave.
He and the other two were continuously trying to one-up each other. The second mogul had built a 35 bed hospital and given it to the county, including the MRI and CT scanner.
The third fellow had restored the Winery that had been started in umpty ought something, imported vines and had re-started a little winery in the foothills. Of course it had a small museum, gift shop and an elegant restaurant called Symphonies. The cuisine there would best be described as . . . well . . . French . . . American South. . . . Tara, you know, the fellow who "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a dam", that place.
My brother is coming in next week from North Carolina to sign some Estate papers with us.
My wife and I plan on taking him there and being surprised. I'll tell you about it when we return.
Pahrump, I certainly short-changed you.