So I decided to do a throwback blog post on Café Pacifica from DineOut season because the hotel, Pan Pacific Vancouver, was simply too beautiful. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a beautiful wedding there in the summer of 2012 and the venue has left an impression on me since then.
As with Joe Fortes, this foodie adventure was with my mom and her co-worker friends on a normal weeknight. I felt a little underdressed for arriving at such a nice restaurant coming from school with a backpack, but since the café was rather empty that was not too big of an issue. To be honest, I was surprised that the DineOut menu offered was only set at $28. You would expect one of the top hotels in Vancouver by the cruise terminal to have prices go through the roof, right? At the bottom, there was a gluten-free option and further pricing information on paired wines – $5.00 per 3 oz taster glass.
Upon receiving the menu from the waitress, it was pretty distinguishable right off the bat what I would order. Parsnip and Pistachio Velouté with cardamom crème fraîche on a cold evening sounded like an excellent idea to me. Creamy-based and topped off with a rigid bread stick (my apologies for not knowing what type exactly). If you have a few more spoonfuls, you are actually able to taste the ground pistachio from what is almost paste. The soup was served in a cup just the right size for a starter and really warmed my tummy up for more food to come.
Quick blurb on the other appetizer option offered on the menu – Apples & Grains, which proved to be extremely disappointing so I am glad I did not order the salad. By the looks of it, the dish seemed prepare-able even for those at home, with baby lettuce, green apple, granola, cambozola cheese, pickled salsify (a type of vegetable), and salsify purée. My mom’s coworker strongly disliked the cheese, going as far as describing the smell as “stinky hockey socks”; nonetheless, I did not believe her and finished all the cheese off her plate because I personally am a cheese lover. Their menu offered an add-on option of seared scallops for an additional $8 but in my opinion, the seafood wouldn’t of improved the salad any better. The menu also suggested pairing the appetizer with Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay (B.C.). I am no expert with wine, but figured writing about the suggestions on my blog would be beneficial to readers anyway.
The entrées were also much bigger than I expected. Since I came straight from school, my growling stomach called for the Braised Lamb Shoulder with pine nut & winter squash risotto, sautéed kale, and caramelized brussels sprouts instead of the Porcini Crusted Black Cod. Two of my favourite types of vegetables were found on the plate: kale and brussels sprouts. I find that brussels sprouts can sometimes turn out to be overly bitter, but if cooked right the vegetable can taste delicious. The brussels sprouts here were not bitter. Risotto is one of my favourite types of pasta, so having that that as a side further pushed me towards the meat entrée. As for the lamb, I found the meat to be too “gamey” – I had always known how to describe this lamb odour in Chinese, but never knew the term in English until writing this post. Lamb usually isn’t my preferred choice of meat but I don’t mind it. The lamb was also not entirely well done, so you can see in the picture there were rare areas. I’m surprised the waitress didn’t ask me how I wanted my meat done, but maybe that is not the norm for lamb. Regardless, I enjoyed my entrée and everything I chose off the menu seemed to be in my favour for the evening. Just enough meat, accompanied with an abundance of sides.
My mom ordered the Black Cod as I mentioned earlier, with fondant potatoes, Shiitake & black garlic broth. Again, there was an add-on option for this entrée: grilled prawns, instead of the previous scallops, for $8 also. The broth was extremely flavourful with the rich taste of mushrooms, and because I am a mushroom lover, this dish was instantly Fiona-approved. There wasn’t a lot of black cod, but that was expected because you learn to never order fish at a restaurant if you are starving because only minimal portions are served. In terms of wine pairing, the restaurant suggested the Inniskillin Pinot Grigio (B.C.).
Dessert was again, the best part of the meal – Calamansi Tart, which had vanilla sponge and passion fruit Calamansi cream, and pineapple buttermilk sorbet all encapsulated within a salted caramel tart shell. The sourness of the pineapple sorbet concealed the passion fruit and vanilla flavours, so I was unable to really taste the other fruits. The tart shell is also worth mentioning because the crust was hard enough to be crispy, but not too hard to the point where you would have to prod your fork in and have pieces fly across the table. The Calamansi Tart was undoubtedly one of my favourite desserts of DineOut this year.
To end, I will leave you with a couple of facts about Café Pacifica that I have either witnessed or came across during my research online (mainly on affiliated websites): the café supposedly has amazing brunch (Sunday Market Brunch), and they also offer live opera performances on Saturday evenings. If I ever feel like splurging on a fancy brunch, then maybe this is the place to go. Maybe then I can also reminisce about my Disney Alaska cruise that I embarked on last summer with my family.