ADDRESS: 858 West Lancaster Boulevard, Lancaster, CA 93534
In the past when I’ve come out to the Palmdale area on business trips, I would typically hit up my friend Hoang and we would go out to try a local spot for dinner one night. After I’ve moved out here to the area now, we’ve been continuing to keep that up as well.
This most recent time, we decided to go and try another one of the restaurants out on the main section of Lancaster Boulevard called La Papillon. We stopped in on a Thursday night and the restaurant was moderately busy, but we were able to get seated immediately.
My initial impression of the dining area was that it was intended to be a bit more upscale and modern. There was bright lighting and a mix of stone and wood elements of the décor. There was even a private dining room area on the left when you first walked in, which had a large wall of glass that divided it from the rest of the dining area.
Based on the name, I was expecting the menu to be primarily French focused, but I was surprised to find that there were also a pretty significant number of Italian dishes on the menu too. The options were a bit all over the map: meat, seafood, pasta, steak, salad, pizza, along with a number of appetizers. It made it difficult to decide on what to choose to eat, but Hoang and I eventually settled on getting two appetizers, one meat dish, and one seafood dish to have a nice spread to try.
The first thing that came out was some complimentary rolls, served with some whipped butter. I did find it, however, a bit on the chewy side. Our two appetizers of the Ahi Tuna Stack and the Calamari were not too far behind. My dad and I both share a love for calamari, so every time I see it on a menu, I’m hard pressed to not order it because I’m curious to give it a try. The breading was light and the marinara sauce that was served with it had a good tang and acidity to it. The downside I found was that the squid itself had a bit of a rubbery texture to it. That definitely detracted from what would have been an otherwise pretty good plate of calamari.
The Ahi Tuna Stack was only okay for me. I liked the combination of the ahi tuna, avocados, and sesame oil flavors. The hoisin sauce that was drizzled on top had a pretty strong flavor and I think maybe was a bit too overpowering at times. I also thought that serving it with wonton chips helped to retain the Asian flavor profiles. My biggest issue, however, was the cut on the ahi tuna poke itself. Each piece of fish ranged from 3/4″ to 1″ in length, which didn’t exactly make it easy to try and scoop up with the chip. I think having a dice on the fish of no more than 1/2″ in length would have helped to make it a lot easier to eat.
Our two main courses of Grilled Salmon and the Short Rib Bourguignon arrived while we were still picking away at the two appetizers. There is a phrase of “you eat with your eyes first,” and unfortunately, both dishes lacked that visual appeal. I started with the bourguignon, which had a vegetable mixture of celery, carrots, and onions that was cooked to the point it was way too soft. The stew itself had a very oily texture and the piece of short rib that was served with the dish was about 40% fat. There was also some short-grain rice pilaf at the bottom, but the stew overpowered it that you didn’t get anything other than texture.
The grilled salmon dish, however, appeared to suffer from excess. The entire bottom of the plate was a puddle of a white wine sauce and the risotto was way too rich with butter that it blasted out any other flavors. The salmon itself was decent, with some good herb and black pepper notes with each bite, but was cooked a little too much for my preference.
Between two appetizers and two entrées, the total ended up being a whopping $122. I might be able to rationalize that if we were down in the middle of LA and we also maybe each had gotten a drink. But with no drinks and being in Lancaster, that was super expensive to me, especially given the lackluster quality of the food. I really liked the modern aesthetic of the interior, but it’s a shame that the food itself didn’t live up to match that.
Let’s now take a look at the La Papillon Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
Ahi Tuna Stack
Ahi tuna chunks tossed with sesame oil and sesame seeds, stacked with avocado salsa and topped with hoisin sauce. Served with wonton chips.
Squid lightly breaded and fried to golden brown. Served with marinara sauce.
Short Rib Bourguignon
Short rib slow cooked in a red wine sauce, with celery, carrots, and onions.
La Papillon Grilled Salmon
Grilled salmon served with a white wine sauce, risotto, and vegetables. Topped with grilled shrimp.
And finally, here are my rankings for La Papillon:
Food: 1.5 / 5
The variety on the menu sounded great, but on almost all of the dishes that we got, there were just execution issues. Whether that was too large chunks of ahi tuna in the appetizer, an overly fatty piece of meat for the bourguignon, or a puddle of sauce on the salmon dish, all of those factors added up to detract from the meal as a whole.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
I really enjoyed the bright lighting in the dining area, coupled with the modern décor elements of stone and wood. The tables were also nicely spaced out to give diners a bit of room as well.
Service: 4 / 5
Our waitress was polite and came around to the table periodically to check in on our meal to see how we were doing. I also felt that the food came out of the kitchen in a reasonable timeframe.
Price: 1 / 5
For the dishes that we got, I could not justify spending that much for the lackluster food we received. The grilled salmon was $38 and the bourguignon was $35, and I’m not sure if I would want to pay half those prices for what we received.