Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pacifica (Palm Desert, CA)

Seafood in the desert might not be a natural pairing, but when you come from the prairies, a 2 hour drive to the coast actually equates to fresh seafood. I was thrilled when I heard that to celebrate my mom's birthday while in Palm Desert we would be going to Pacifica Seafood Restaurant. Last year we had got my parents gift certificates for it after reading lots of positive reviews on Trip Advisor, and then they had raved about it, so my expectations were high. Thankfully, this time the restaurant did a much better time living up to expectations that the ones I picked in San Diego.

Pacifica is located on El Paseo Drive - shopping street for those with pockets deeper than mine. It is well located for people from many of the surrounded Desert Cities such as Indio (where we were), Indian Wells, La Quinta, and Rancho Mirage. It is also located a couple minutes by car from the McCallum Theatre, to serve those heading to a show after dinner. It is on the second floor of a commercial building, with shops underneath, and it has a large patio seating area that allows you to admire the mountains in the distance, and lavish in the warm weather (or the heat rays of a heating lamp if the weather is a bit cooler).

Pacifica is a restaurant for seafood lovers. Almost the entire menu is devoted to fish and seafood, with a couple of token chicken and beef dishes. If you get there prior to 5:45, you can take advantage of "Sunset dinners," which we did since we had to make a 7:30 show, that is a bargain at $19.75 for a soup or salad and a main course. My father and I did that, and therefore began our meals with soups - clam chowder for him, and mulligatawny for me. Both soups were tasty, and I was pleased to see mulligatawny as an option, as I rarely do.

For mains, dad and I had the Lake Superior Whitefish (I know, not from the ocean so no fresher than I would have got at home...), served with a generous portion of sauted spinach and wild mushrooms. Drizzled around the edge was a beurre blanc sauce with some toasted pine nuts. The fish was very mild, as was to be expected, but the stronger earthier flavors of the spinach and mushrooms gave the dish good depth. The butter sauce probably didn't hurt either. Mom and Norm each had the scallops as their main course. I tasted, and the scallops were very nicely cooked. They were served with broccoli, butternut squash puree, szechuan peppercorn butter, and forbidden "risotto." We discovered upon arrival that forbidden "risotto" wasn't really a risotto at all really, but black short grain rice. I have never had rice of this sort before, so I am not sure how it is supposed to taste, but it had a texture like a wild rice, just shorter.

To finish off the night, we shared the dessert trio, even though we were all quite full by the end. It came with a flourless chocolate lava cake that was rich and divine, a creme brule, which was good, but not extraordinary, and a profiterole with ice cream filling drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was a lovely ending to a very nice meal. I'm sure in years to come, as we fly down to visit the snowbirds, Pacifica will continue to be a popular choice for a nice evening out.

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