Review: Cafe Pacific

This Highland Park mainstay is a neighborhood place that also feels special occasion.

Highland Park residents have been dining here regularly (and next to those celebrating birthdays and prom nights) for 26 years. It’s a neighborhood place in a neighborhood that can afford to eat $23 sea bass several times a week. Everything about this place—attentive and knowledgeable servers, white tablecloths, black and white marble floor, a delectable bowl of complimentary shoestring sweet potatoes—screams special occasion. Crab cakes have been a favorite for as long as we’ve been coming here, the fresh lump crab, breaded and barely fried, served alongside sprightly cucumber and semi-sweet honey mustard. A fried soft-shell crab special was a bit too poofy, the batter separating from the meat with every bite. Better was the white truffle-scented risotto (that was just the tiniest bit overcooked) topped with three mounds of lobster.

The meats were standouts, including veal cutlets pounded thin and smothered with a perfectly executed béarnaise and clumps of delicate crab. Wine is organized by price point, making it easy to spot and select, say, a $42 Stag’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc. But do not think of pushing back your chair and summoning the valet until you indulge in the chocolate pecan ball: vanilla ice cream rolled in pecans and doused with chocolate. It’s a classic, not unlike Cafe Pacific itself.

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