Choices! Lots of them! —- Dining at Pacifica Del Mar

| December 31, 2013 | 0 Comments
Sugar spiced salmon, listed as a “classic” dish, deserved accolades for freshness and flavor.

Sugar spiced salmon, listed as a “classic” dish, deserved accolades for freshness and flavor.

Choices! Lots of them! There is much to consider when dining at Pacifica Del Mar, the award winning restaurant atop the Del Mar Plaza, located in the heart of the picturesque town that hugs the coastline between La Jolla and Encinitas. Some of the choices — where to dine in the venue’s several areas and which of the more than 200 worldwide vodka selections to imbibe — may have to be decided before even looking at the lengthy menu and wine list. But making such decisions can become a labor of love.

The restaurant has been in business for a very long time, attesting to its continued popularity, its ability to please its clientele. In many ways, it has defined excellent seafood, which is its “passion”, among the restaurants in our city. Positioned at the ocean’s edge, one can easily understand the restaurant’s focus.

Del Mar Plaza Is a lovely shopping center located at 15th St and Camino Del Mar. The height of the structure gives the restaurant an unblocked, unparalleled ocean view from which spectacular sunsets are the norm. Many diners consider it a very romantic setting, perfect for dates or those “special moments”. But it is the quality of the coastal cuisine that brings people back, again and again, at any time of day.

Breakfast is even available on weekends, although the most popular fish is usually the lox. Omelets and pancakes are the more conventional offerings that early in the day. The Breeze Café, one of the several dining areas, is a beautiful outdoor setting in which to dine when the sun is shining brightly high in the sky.

My favorite time to dine is at dinner. Evenings are when the restaurant takes on a life of its own, humming with the muffled voices of many diners, clinking of glasses, the sounds of food being enjoyed.

One can always begin in the Ocean Bar, where vodka and shellfish are some of the main attractions. Over 200 brands of vodka come from many countries, ranging from the several flavors of Skyy (US) to several flavors of Stolichnaya (Latvia, not Russia) to the many flavors of Absolut (Sweden) and Ketel 1 (Holland). On the extensive shellfish menu, an iced seafood platter, with shrimp, oyster and half lobster or the jumbo shrimp cocktail with wasabi cocktail sauce are great ways to tickle the palate.

If one skips stopping at the Ocean Bar, one may order oysters on the half shell at the table, or, steamed local mussels with brandy cream may fit the bill. The crispy calamari arrived in a large bowl, a good size portion, with several dipping sauces. They were coated in a delicious batter, deep fried, and are crispy crunchy and amazingly good.

Black cod has a number of aliases, like “sable fish” and “poor man’s lobster” but a name change can’t hide the wonderful soft, smooth, flaky flavor. It is terrific with melted butter. My dish was marinated in a light Japanese miso that added great flavor. Squash puree and snow peas put it over the top.

Sugar spiced salmon, listed as a “classic” dish, deserved accolades for freshness and flavor. It comes with a mustard sauce atop a mound of garlic mashed potato. Yum! Other entrees include mustard catfish, seared sea scallops and grilled mahi mahi.

Carnivores need not worry. Chicken, filet mignon and osso bucco are also available, each accompanied by side dishes designed to tantalize with taste.

To round out the meal, there is a creative dessert menu that features such unique items as chocolate croissant bread pudding, almond milk panna cotta and housemade bonbon’s. And, of course, there is always berries and ice cream.

The magic in the kitchen is created and supervised by Chef Stephanie O’Mary-Berwald. She and her husband are both making careers in the hospitality industry. She trained at the French Culinary Institute and worked with renowned chef Todd English and James Beard award winning chef Michael White. She loves to create dishes that feature complex, deep flavors. She uses only the freshest seasonal items in her preparations. Highly skilled, she states that she is familiar with cuisines worldwide.

Pacifica Del Mar has an award winning wine list to augment the dining experience. It also features “deals” with its 2-course Sunset Dinner Menus and a terrific happy hour, with specials that change with the day of the week.

With a great menu, terrific cuisine, lots of parking and enchanting views, the first choice to make is to dine at Pacifica Del Mar. Price may seem expensive but the quality and ambiance make it worthwhile. The restaurant is located at 1555 Camino Del Mar. Call (858) 792 0476 for reservations and information.

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