Tuesday night, “Chef” Eddie and I were treated to a sneak peek of 333 Pacific’s Restaurant Week menu.
333 Pacific is one of the newest members of the Cohn Restaurant Group. If you aren’t familiar with the Cohn name, you should be. The Prado, Corvette Diner and Gaslamp Strip Club are just some of the restaurants they own. Their commitment to providing delicious fare and excellent service has made this family of restaurants quite successful and 333 Pacific is no exception.
When I arrived, I noticed that the venue was already filled with quite a few customers. Upon entering, I could see why. The large bar area, decorated with dark wood and light blue counters, is an inviting and hip place to enjoy happy hour. The restaurant boasts a rather long list of vodkas and several vodka-based specialty cocktails to match its casual sophistication. Also, with the Oceanside Pier and beach literally across the street, 333 Pacific is a prime spot for a meal with a view.
We were greeted warmly by the hostesses and quickly seated on the enclosed and heated patio. Unfortunately, it was already dark so no sunset ocean view for us; not a big disappointment since I was there for the food. Our waiter, Thomas, showed up a few moments later and was the epitome of a fabulous waiter – friendly, helpful with recommendations and attentive without being intrusive.
Based on Thomas’s comments, I opted for the Detoxitini, a mixture of Pearl blueberry vodka and “good for you” juices such as acai and pomegranate. Upon tasting this concoction, I discovered a new favorite cocktail. The vodka is the first to hit your palette but then the surprising sweetness balanced with a little tartness of the juices quickly follows. I could drink this all night long…
Since we were sampling the Restaurant Week menu, our choices were limited to 3 options each for appetizer, main course and dessert. I almost wished we weren’t constrained since the regular menu offered some delicious sounding items such as Seared Maine Diver Scallops, Saffron Seafood Stew (calamari, shrimp, halibut, lobster clams, mussels, saffron-fennel broth) and Surf and Turf Ravioli (Wagyu beef and Maine lobster). I can’t forget to mention the various cuts of steak offered on the menu with the option of adding Alaskan Crab Legs or a lobster tail.
While we were waiting for our appetizers to arrive, we enjoyed warm caramelized onion rolls with maple syrup butter. As Eddie, who has dined here before, said when receiving his roll, “These are evil.” The onions are baked into the roll but I never noticed them texture-wise. Flavor-wise, they really turned plain bread into something delicious. Coupled with the amazing maple syrup butter, which was strong in flavor but not syrupy sweet, it was a tasty morsel to tide us over. It was so good, we opted for seconds despite worrying that we would fill ourselves up too early. I found myself wishing that 333 Pacific would package the maple syrup butter and sell it. It would be a wonderful thing to have at home to put on french toast or pancakes and use for cooking…
For our first course, Eddie opted for the Creamy Butternut Squash Soup while I went for the Beef Tenderloin Sashimi. I had a spoonful of the soup which I found to be mild in flavor and smooth in texture. While it was a really well-made dish from a technical standpoint, I wished there was a little more seasoning. The portion was generous. The Tenderloin Sashimi was delicious. Don’t let the term “sashimi” fool you as the beef is seared rare than served raw. And tender indeed…it was melt-in-your-mouth perfect. The mixture of cabbage and peppers gave it a nice crunch. The ponzu was a nice light dressing. Overall, it was a refreshing dish and a great appetizer.
As the main course, Eddie chose the Grilled Prime Top Sirloin. I selected the Herb Roasted Whole Game Hen. The cooked perfectly to medium-rare sirloin was a very thick cut but still came out moist and juicy. The wasabi mashed potatoes were creamy with a strong horseradish flavor that I enjoyed. Apparently, some bites were a little too strong as Eddie experienced a few moments of nasal assault. My dish consisted of a nicely cooked piece of poultry – crispy skin but moist meat. The winter squash hash was a treat for me as I love squash and the sautéed greens were wonderful. The only thing about this dish that threw me off was the blue cheese vinaigrette. While I didn’t hate it, I don’t think I loved it. In fact, I’m still a bit puzzled… The blue cheese flavor was not so strong as to overpower the dish but it gave a “cooling” factor to each bite that I couldn’t get over. I feel as if I have to eat this dish again to figure out how I truly feel about the blue cheese.
Finally, dessert… This was perhaps my favorite part of the meal and it had to do with Eddie’s selection. He went for the chocolate silk tort which was heaven on earth for anyone who loves chocolate. Usually, I avoid chocolate desserts as I find them too sweet; I opt for fruit-based tarts or sorbet. However, the tort at 333 Pacific, I would order in a heartbeat. Rich, chocolate-y, smooth, fluffy, this was not cloyingly sweet but decadent. Served on a shortbread crust with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, I could not stop stealing bites off his plate. My dessert, the 333 Caramel Corn Sundae, was a fun presentation that made me feel a little childish in a good way. Vanilla and chocolate ice cream on brittle, covered with a drizzle of caramel and garnished with a handful of caramel corn, it was an adult version of fair dessert food.
Overall, this was a fantastic dining experience…what I expected from a Cohn restaurant. The food on a technical and taste level is superb; the service, excellent. If you are looking for a place to try for Restaurant Week, or for any occasion, you won’t go wrong with 333 Pacific. This place offers North County the hip atmosphere and fine food found in the Gaslamp Quarter without the drive and struggle for parking.
5 NOMs from The Catty Critic for 333 Pacific.
333 N. Pacific St.
Oceanside, CA 92054
Filed under: 5 NOMs, american, San Diego, seafood, steak | Tagged: 333 Pacific, 5 NOMs, american, appetizer, asian fusion, beach, cocktails, Cohn Restaurant Group, dessert, dinner, happy hour, North County, ocean view, oceanside, Oceanside pier, restaurant review, San Diego, seafood, steak, sushi, vodka |