Cafe Pacifica at Pan Pacific Vancouver (VIDEO)


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It was a Cinderella day that kicked off with a chocolate shoe, and much better than two step sisters I was joined with two geniuses! Special thanks to Justin of Three Sixty Photo and Steve Tan of Stevetan.net who are the talent behind the Follow Me Foodie webisodes. It was also brought to you by Galloway’s Specialty Foods and Spa Utopia.

PS: To win 2 tickets to the Sunday Market Brunch Buffet check out the Pan Pacific blog for their online contest here!

Follow Me Foodie to Cafe Pacifica at Pan Pacific Vancouver

Oh Vancouver. You are so beautiful I could just take a bite out of you! And quite often I do! This time I did it while playing tourist in my own city. A getaway from home, in the context of home.

It was a pleasurable stay at the Pan Pacific Vancouver in downtown. Overlooking the incredible waterfront and gorgeous mountains, it was a breath of beautiful British Columbia. I don’t think I could ask for a better view or restaurant patio overlooking the glistening waters of this wonderful city. Not only that, but it’s the only place where you can swim or relax under the stars in their outdoor hot tub or heated pool.

As if the chocolate shoe wasn’t enough of a sweet surprise, I continued the chocolate theme with the Hot Chocolate Bliss Body Wrap from Spa Utopia & Salon, who also styled my hair in the webisode. What better way to warm up to chocolate than to literally be rubbed with it. As the aroma of sweet and nutty chocolate filled the room, it took incredible self control as a foodie to not try this inedible mixture of rich cocoa and moor mud. Deep breath in and deep breath out, that’s the closest taste I got.

All of this was amazing, but of course food was on my mind, and I guess earlier on my skin. So with a hop, skip and a chocolate shoe, off I was to Cafe Pacifica!

I must say that hotel restaurants in Vancouver never used to excite me, that is until the last couple years. With restaurants like Hawksworth at Rosewood Hotel Georgia, The Apron at the Westin Hotel, Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel, YEW at The Four Seasons, EBO Restaurant at The Burnaby Delta, and of course Market by Jean-Georges at Shangri-La, hotel restaurants are now just as frequented by locals as they are by tourists.

On the other hand, Cafe Pacifica was a hotel restaurant that was never really on my radar. I’ve been here a few times for weddings and events, but it simply seemed too touristy especially since it’s where all the cruise ships dock. I must say that the view is incredible and for me that made for half the experience.

As for the menu and food, it was East meets West. It is representable of Vancouver as a multi-cultural city, but it was still on the safe side for me. Since it does have to appeal to tourist and locals I can see why, but personally I was hoping for more “cutting edge” techniques, ingredients, and presentation (just more at the standard of the restaurants I mentioned above). Some of the dishes seemed a bit “tourist priced”, but the view does make up for it if you value that. Everything was mostly enjoyable, but some dishes were a bit shy and more or less ordinary.

Restaurant: Cafe Pacifica
Cuisine:
International/Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Desserts
Last visited: 
August 24, 2011
Location: 
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 
999 Canada Place (Inside Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel)
Price Range: 
$10 – 20

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4 for Cafe Pacifica, 3 for lounge menu
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 6
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Restaurant/lounge
  • Fantastic view
  • Waterfront patio seating
  • Family friendly
  • Known for Sunday Market Brunch
  • Buffet breakfast (Daily 6:30am-10am – $28.50)
  • Friday pasta lunch buffet (11:30am-2pm – $24.50)
  • Opera buffet (Sat. 6pm-9pm – $49)
  • Sunday Market Brunch (11:30am-2:30pm – $49)

**Recommendations: Tempura Fried Halibut Sliders, Home Made Ravioli with Ricotta Cheese, English Peas & Fresh Mint, Soya & Marin Marinated Queen Charlotte Sablefish

On the table:

Spicy Crab Dip 3.5/6

  • Served with corn chips $17
  • This is one of the house favourites and although it is good for what it was, it was nothing really beyond.
  • It’s a very rich and indulgent, fluffy and creamy crab dip similar to a hot cream cheese dip spiced with chipotle, but it isn’t that spicy.
  • There were flaky pieces of shredded crab throughout rather than chunks, but it doesn’t really have a strong seafood flavour.
  • I could have used some texture and sweetness from red bell peppers or corn to break things up a bit, otherwise it’s a little one note.
  • I felt like this needed sour cream or some tang to break up the cheese as well.
  • It is pricey, but it’s shareable for 4 and there’s a decent amount of crab to make it worth the price.

Baby Shrimp Quesadillas2/6

  • Fresh corn kernels, cilantro $15
  • This was the least exciting the meal got. I rarely order quesadillas anyways since they’re too easy to make at home.
  • The tortilla was soft and I do prefer it crispy and grilled.
  • The flavours were exactly as the description suggested with a bit of cream cheese (?) melted into it.
  • It would be great if the corn kernels were roasted, and the baby shrimps were plentiful, but unseasoned and marinated, so also quite boring.
  • For this sort of establishment I’d just expect something more creative, and this was just a bit ordinary.
  • The fresh salsa and sour cream it was served with were appreciated condiments though.

Sirloin Beef Sliders2.5/6

  • Mini milk buns $18
  • For me a brioche or potato bun will always beat almost any kind of bun. The milk bun just seemed like a regular bun and it was a bit drier and stiffer than your typical sesame bun too.
  • The patty alone was good though! It was nice, tender and juicy with the right amount of fat and lean meat. It didn’t seem to have any additional fillers, but the bun didn’t help it to shine.
  • There was some frisee and mayo and it was all really quite standard and this isn’t something I think you would need to try here.

**Tempura Fried Halibut Sliders4.5/6

  • Shaved fennel, chipotle mayonnaise $19
  • Again, I would have preferred a brioche bun. The milk buns were just a bit dry and dense.
  • These were actually my favourite from the lounge menu! They were surprisingly good, although quite pricey.
  • I loved the crunchy refreshing fennel as opposed to a typical slaw.
  • It was a big piece of halibut that was lightly battered and fried until crispy with a moist and tender inside.
  • There was also some salty bites of capers and it was a bit spicy too followed by a slight licorice flavour from the fennel.
  • The chipotle mayo gave it heat and spice, but it would be great if it was cut with some sour cream to add a zing.
  • The filling in these were so good that I could overlook the unexciting milk bun.
  • If you like this I also recommend the Chicken Fried Oyster Sandwich at Fresh Local Wild and the Beer Battered Halibut at Hapa Umi, both nearby.

Ahi Tuna Nicoise Served Rare3.5/6

  • Olive tapenade dressing, haricots, fried capers $22
  • It was a modern Tuna Nicoise salad.
  • Personally I prefer traditional whole anchovies in my Nicoise salad, but I know this doesn’t sit well with the majority.
  • The ahi tuna was perfect, but I would have loved if it was crusted with rice crackers or sesame seeds since the menu is fusion anyways.
  • The salad was well dressed with a tangy, savoury and fruity dressing that carried the flavours of blended olives, anchovies and capers, giving it the salty bite it needed.
  • It wasn’t too salty and the Mediterranean flavours still came through with baby capers (which didn’t seem fried), juicy fresh plump caper berries, and tangy tomatoes.
  • I wouldn’t oblige to more crisp green beans and whole olives though.
  • There was a layer of thinly sliced and tender fingerling potatoes with the skins on underneath the bed of salad too. A classic component to a Nicoise salad.
  • I personally prefer my egg half cooked, and the use of quail’s eggs would have made for a nice switch up.
  • Although simple, it was a clean salad that was well arranged and presented.

Vancouver Island Local & Dungeness Crab4/6

  • Exotic fruit gazpacho, frisee lettuce, micro herb salad $16
  • I think I expected it to taste more “exotic”, but it was still good, although the flavours are somewhat familiar to me.
  • It reminded me of fillings for a California sushi roll, but with mango. This combination of ingredients is actually not hard to find at Japanese restaurants throughout Vancouver, so it wasn’t too “unusual” for me.
  • The gazpacho wasn’t noticeable with the tomato flavour and the acidity was coming from the lime more than the tomato.
  • It was more fruity than expected with flavours of orange, mango puree and lime juice, so it was on the sweeter side, but not too sweet like dessert either.
  • The mango flavour was apparent and well used as a thickener.
  • The salad consisted of fresh flaky juicy pieces of crab, diced mango, red pepper, and avocado so it was creamy, crunchy, sweet and savoury with lime juice as a natural marinade for brightness.
  • It’s definitely a lighter salad and not your typical “fruit salad” and I liked that the crab salad wasn’t dressed in any additional seasonings or sauces. It allowed the natural crab flavour to shine and it gave the diner control with the amount of gazpacho to dress it with.
  • I think it would be nice to see the avocado, mango and crab to be arranged in layers in the tower too rather than all mixed together.

Herb Brioche Crusted Halibut 3.5/6

  • Vanilla scented citrus segments, avocado mousse, Meyer lemon emulsion $28
  • This tasted fine, but it was very simple and deconstructed with few components that I felt like the only thing which really showed effort was the Meyer lemon emulsion.
  • It was a bit reminiscent of Rob Feenie’s Seared Ocean Wise Saffron Halibut at Cactus Club Cafe, and surprisingly I might prefer that one. This one is healthier though.
  • Again I would have loved the halibut to come with the skin, but this might not sit well with the majority.
  • The brioche crust was a fair alternative to a crispy skin, but the sweetness was lost when combined the the other ingredients which were all tangy. Coconut might be a better option.
  • The crust could have been crispier and it was a bit powdery, but the fish was very moist, tender and juicy.
  • The Meyer lemon emulsion was made from reduced lemon, onion, orange, grapefruit, and mango puree and juices.
  • The sauce had a glossy sheen, but again no butter, so it was very healthy.
  • It was a tangy, bright and vibrant sauce which made it very light, and it had a slight sweetness, but it was stronger with lemon and orange flavours.
  • The fruit segments were nice and a bit floral, but I could use more vanilla and vanilla bean seeds.
  • The avocado mousse gave the dish some richness, but it was more limey than buttery.
  • As a main I could have used a starch or something more substantial because everything was just so light already.
  • The dish worked, but it was just heavy with the tangy flavours and I wanted more balance of savoury and sweet.

**Home Made Ravioli with Ricotta Cheese, English Peas & Fresh Mint5/6

  • White asparagus, wild mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, citrus beurre blanc $24
  • This was the vegetarian dish and it was fabulous!
  • It was presented beautifully and the raviolis are house made. It doesn’t come with many though, which is quite typical when ordering ravioli at finer restaurants.
  • It was a classic beurre blanc sauce and the acidity and brightness came from citrus rather than the reduction of white wine, unless it was a very citrusy white wine.
  • It was buttery, but on the lighter side of most beurre blanc sauces which seem creamier, richer and more savoury. The sauce was richer than the ravioli though.
  • Personally I would swap the citrus for truffle oil which would suit the base of vegetables wonderfully if it wasn’t for the cherry tomatoes.
  • The vegetables were well executed, slippery, juicy and tender, but I wouldn’t mind a few more herbs for added flavour and the zucchini was a bit bitter.

  • The house made ravioli were perfectly cooked to al dente with a nice firm skin that held its shape and the filling.
  • The filling was made with ricotta, mascarpone, sweet pea and mint with some added lime zest which brightened up the flavours of the dish.
  • I think there was also some sharper, salter nuttier parmesan which is always a great addition to any pasta dish. It just adds so much more flavour.
  • The mint was a nice change from the standard basil and it was subtle, but I could taste it, and it complimented the sweet peas well and made for great aromatics.
  • The mascarpone made it light and fluffy giving it a little cheesy richness at the same time and the background of lime played to the citrus from the sauce.
  • I just loved the fresh herby flavour it had and the mint and lime opened the palate so subtly, but it was incredibly well balanced with sweet and savoury flavours.

**Soya & Marin Marinated Queen Charlotte Sablefish5/6

  • Shiso infused quinoa oven dried tomatoes, chili aioli, fresh vegetables $28
  • Sablefish is almost impossible to mess up since it’s so forgivable to cook, so 90% of the time it will be delicious.
  • There were no heavy sauces, besides the dollops of aioli, but it had good flavour.
  • Again I missed the fish skin, but I get that the majority might not like it. (It’s where all the flavour is guys!)
  • The sablefish was perfect though! It was perfectly marinated, savoury and slightly sweet from sweetened soy or maybe even maple (?).
  • The flakes of fish just slipped off one another with the gentle touch of my fork.
  • It was incredibly buttery, juicy, and melt in your mouth tender. It was almost leaking with juices and the fish was so healthy, fatty and oily.
  • The fish was ridiculously good and sable fish is something I order often and I’d still consider this a memorable one. Maybe it’s because it’s the right season for it too.
  • The quinoa was made well, but could have been more exciting.
  • It was savoury and aromatic and the shiso leaves were mild, but a great addition to enhance that East meets West theme.
  • There were bites of oven dried tomatoes in the quinoa which was the nice tang to the dish.
  • The quinoa tasted like it was cooked in miso stock and soy sauce, but I would have loved some edmame in there as well.
  • A wasabi aioli would be a great alternative to the chili aioli, or a chili miso aioli would work too, but that’s my own preference.

Pan Seared Lamb Rib Eye – 4/6

  • Garden vegetable ratatouille, creamed organic whole grain barley, rosemary infused red wine jus, artichoke chips $39.50
  • The rib eye was medium rare, tender and buttery, a little bit gamey, but not overpowering.
  • The au jus was sweet and berry-ish in flavour from the thick and syrupy rich red wine reduction and there was a slight acidity from some tomato.
  • I couldn’t taste much rosemary but the flavours were similar to a demi-glace rather than a simple red wine jus.
  • The artichoke chips were more chewy than crispy, but had it been crispy it would be a nice contrast to the lamb since it had no dry rub crust. The chips played a more apparent role in texture than in flavour.
  • The lamb sat on a bed of ratatouille that was sweet and tangy and composed of fresh and tender zucchini, sweet bell peppers, creamy eggplant and juicy tomatoes.
  • The only thing was that the zucchini was bitter, which is a bit natural, but I prefer non-bitter zucchini. It was bitter in the ravioli too.

  • Creamed Barley4/6
    • This was a different side that doesn’t come around often, so I did like it. Not only that, but for what it was, it was good.
    • Barely is a cereal grain and it doesn’t really say “fine dining”, but it was done well here and it was nice and firm and chewy.
    • It was a very simple barley recipe made with a basic buttery cream sauce, and it wasn’t cheesy, but still rich and naturally nutty.
    • I liked the heavier cream sauce contrasting the tangy lighter tomato ratatouille and they were even great together.

Desserts

After the chocolate shoe surprise I was certainly looking forward to dessert. On the other hand, hotel desserts make me nervous just because most of the time I find them “hotel desserts”. Mass produced. In this case, they all sounded quite creative, but still a bit more exciting on the menu and in the presentation.

I did like that they were all sampler sized though and they’re very reasonably priced and showcased the summer fruits of the season very well.

Chocolate Orange Truffle Pudding Cake2.5/6

  • Baked chocolate flour less cake with an orange scent and pudding like texture garnished with a creamy exotic caramel dome $3.95
  • First, I’m not huge on orange and chocolate. I have liked the combination before, but usually the orange has to be fresh rather than Grand Marnier. So this one wasn’t my favourite.
  • It was a very moist, soft and almost spongey cake and it was almost like the inside of an Aero bar, but in mousse form.
  • The texture is like a wet airy cake, and then it melts immediately into a mousse.
  • It was also a bit creamy from the chocolate ganache on top.
  • It’s quite light and fluffy, but strong with chocolate and orange flavour and I could taste the orange immediately with even the slightest lick.
  • I really wanted more of that exotic caramel dome which was made from passionfruit, mango, orange, vanilla and coconut.
  • The exotic dome tasted like mango and passionfruit mousse to me and I would have loved for the ingredients in it to play a stronger role in the overall cake. Perhaps an added gelee layer would have done the job.
  • You have to really appreciate citrus fruits and chocolate in mousse like forms to appreciate this dessert.

Mango E-Spuma3/6

  • Glass layered with diced pineapple compote Mango foam fresh raspberry reduction garnished with crunchy pecan disc and mini pistachio green tea cakes $3.95
  • I loved the sound of this dish and I liked all the ingredients in it. It was creative, but it didn’t taste particularly different and I think the execution could have been better.
  • If you serve it in a shot glass I think it should be drinkable, but this one wasn’t and required a spoon.
  • You crack the pecan disc and mix the cake and disc into the compote and foam.
  • It tasted like a fresh mango mousse meets a custard, but it was a bit more fluid.
  • I liked the pieces of fruit and it was a nice and tropical dessert, but I think it would be great with some coconut ice cream or even coconut milk.
  • The pecan disc cake gives it some nutty and crispy texture which was great, but the pistachio green tea cake just got soggy and totally lost.
  • Luckily I tried half of the cake alone, and I enjoyed it!

Strawberry Rhubarb Tango3.5/6

  • Almond dacquoise tart with a strawberry mousse and rhubarb gelee garnished with torched meringue drops and fresh strawberry $3.95
  • This was certainly prettiest, but it was missing a crispy texture. I was hoping to get it from crispy meringue or a crunchy crust, but it was just the texture of cake and mousse which is quite normal.
  • It was a traditional almond dacquoise cake, not a tart shell, but it was done quite well. It was moist and not too sweet and quite light, but I could have used more ground almonds and less sugar.
  • I was most impressed with the rhubarb gelee which almost wasn’t a glee at all. It tasted like an intense tangy and sweet fresh rhubarb puree and it really brightened up the whole dessert since the strawberry mousse was quite mild and light.
  • When eaten altogether I could taste the rhubarb gelee the moist, but the almond was a bit faint and the strawberry was even more faint.

Baked Wild Berry Cheesecake4/6

  • Creamy goat cheese cheesecake on a sweet dough crust and garnished with Cassis glee and fresh berries $3.95
  • Okay this is an interesting one. I didn’t really have any interest in it and it sounded pretty traditional and I’m not even huge on cheesecake and I ended up liking this the best.
  • I liked it the best because although it was somewhat traditional, it committed to the description and was better than the description, whereas the others sounded more exciting than they tasted.
  • It was very light and fluffy, but still creamy and it’s not a thick or dense New York style cheesecake, which I’m not keen on anyways.
  • The goat’s cheese is very mild and even goat cheese haters would warm up to this easily.
  • The cheesecake wasn’t tangy or too sweet at all, but it carried a lemony scent and the wild berry sauce was a nice touch.
  • The crust was almost like a sweet and nutty shortbread cookie pie crust, but it wasn’t buttery, but delicate, soft and tender.
  • It was a simple dessert that matched the description, unless you want a strong goat’s cheese flavour… in which case just order a cheese plate for dessert.

Shredded Pineapple Nugget Bar 3.5/6

  • Golden clove spiced pineapple nuggets balanced on a sable creme fraiche bar and garnished with a thin caramelized puff pastry disc.
  • I was very excited about this one too, but I did wish it came together better.
  • It would be great if it was executed in layers like a Napoleon because it was a bit deconstructed and hard to enjoy at once.
  • It had a bright lemony flavour and nice aromatics with sweet and spiced pineapple, but it tasted more simple than it looked and sounded on paper.
  • I could have used stronger flavours of all the listed ingredients, but it was a lighter dessert to end a meal with.

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