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Ole’ Pamplona Cocktails & Tapas

Jan 02, 2019 04:34PM ● By Debbie Hall
Pamplona Cocktails & Tapas (PAMPLONALV.COM) reverberates with joy, laughter, and passion. Walking through the door, you are transported to the world of Spain, with its adventurous cuisine, warm people, and celebration of family and friends. Chef Errol LeBlanc truly embodies the spirit of Spanish food, wine, and spirits. His delight pours through infusing every meal, drink, and dish with the spice of life. The enthusiasm of the chef, owner, management, and staff creates the Spanish culture in Las Vegas. Linen tablecloths and napkins, rich woods, and vivid colors add to the dining experience.

“I was raised that when you go out, you eat good food and enjoy the company of others,” Chef LeBlanc explains. “This is not a franchise where you stare at your plate. This is for the people to share good times. This is the way it is supposed to be.”

Brunch is the most spectacular meal offered because it is practically the chef’s child. Having developed the quintessential Sunday meal, this day is meant for people to eat, dance, and experience a wonderful time. Huevos A La Flamenca combines spicy sofrito (aromatic sauce), chorizo, potato, and baked eggs for an authentic Spanish breakfast. Dipping temperatures call for Mariscos Mixtos combining clams, mussels, calamari, and shrimp in a chorizo broth. Fabada Asturiana adds longaniza (Spanish sausage similar to chorizo) and morcilla (blood sausage) for a rich, bean stew. Americanized tastes can indulge in waffles, benedicts, and eggs to order.

What is brunch without sweets? Buñuelos captures that sweet tooth with deep-fried dough balls dipped in dark chocolate and fruit sauces.

Pamplona is more than just dining, but brings a culture that LeBlanc believes has been lacking in Vegas in recent years. “I want to enjoy my day and spend my time with people I care about, not in a drunken stupor. The east coast inspired me, and now we have developed this place.” Lunch and dinner are also celebrated. Choices for the beginning of the meal should include Sobrasada, a spicy spread of Majorcan sausage with garlic and paprika, or Lomo made with cured Iberico pork tenderloin blended with Spanish paprika.

Truly Spanish in flavor, Peruano is snapper topped with sweet pepper and citrus. For the bold, Pulpo En Escabeche is lightly grilled octopus topped with olive oil, citrus, and chilis for a delectable taste.

Sharing is part of the fun, and with tapas try the Queso Fundido with manchego cheese, chistorra sausage, and piquillo peppers. Verdura features grilled vegetables, artichoke, and pisto la mancha (tomatoes, onions, eggplant, green and red peppers, and olive oil). In fact, the chef is very proud of the many vegan and gluten-free options on the menu.

A bold choice to select for an entrée for two is Negra, a savory dish of clams, mussel, shrimp, calamari, and scallops served on black rice mixed with aioli. The dark color (prepared with the black ink of squid) might stop some from trying this delectable dish filled with savory flavors but it is amazing and captures the uniqueness of the menu.

While Chef LeBlanc emphasizes he is very American, he embraces Europe and the Mediterranean attitudes when it comes to how he eats. His family is a blend of multicultural influences, and Chef LeBlanc personifies this.

“I almost killed myself trying to cook when I was 7 years old. I was making buttercream, dropped the sugar, slipped, and fell on my face,” he laughs. From that moment on, he knew cooking was his destiny, and part of his family DNA is to share that skill with others.

When another chef expressed his philosophy with Chef LeBlanc, he took it to heart. “The first bite is great. The second bite is good, and the third bite is boring. I want to take people in transition in their palate. I wanted to cook as many types of food as possible.”

First, he became very passionate about Italian, then he mastered dishes from the Iberia peninsula of Spain and numerous regions of Portugal, ready to explode on the Vegas dining scene.

As for spirits, gin and tonic is the go-to drink with sangria a popular second choice followed by brandy and sherry. While the Spanish culture imbibes on straightforward cocktails, great wine and specialty cocktails enhance the meal.

The bar and restaurant culminate a childhood dream of owner and founder Marisol Crespo. Since the age of six, she has embraced the exquisite taste and flavors of the Canary Islands, home of her grandparents. Assistant Chef Ariel Zuniga blends his unique touches, adding to the family-style feel in the dining environment.

Pamplona is named after the capital of Navarre, the province in northern Spain known for the Running of the Bulls (Feast of San Fermín). The feast demonstrates daredevil attitude and celebration, which is also the spirit of Pamplona Cocktails & Tapas.

Pamplona Cocktails and Tapas / 5781 W. Sahara Ave. / Las Vegas / (702) 659-5781