Lump Crabmeat and Goat Cheese Strudel with Herbsaint Crème Glaze; Crawfish Monica; Bread Pudding in Whiskey Sauce
Occupation: Multimedia Designer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Cajun Pacific Restaurant & Catering
Reviewed Cajun Pacific Restaurant & Catering: Friday, September 22, 2006
Since this was my favorite pick, I knew exactly what to expect when we headed down to Cajun Pacific Friday night. Just as I’d predicted, the menu would be fresh and exciting, the cozy dining room would be alive with happy patrons, and the chef would be working his culinary magic in the kitchen. A little slice of New Orleans heaven located in the most unlikely of places: the Outer Sunset.
It was Friday night, so we needed wine! We started with that as we tried to make our appetizer and dinner choices. As usual there were lots of offerings on the menu that combine traditional New Orleans dishes prepared with a truly creative approach while incorporating local, seasonal ingredients. In fact, this is my favorite aspect of the restaurant, and what keeps me going back so often in a city with limitless dining options.
We settled on two appetizers (even though the Crawfish Beignets with Rémoulade are a favorite and it was hard passing them up!). We selected the Crabmeat and Brie Strudel and Oysters Poached in Herbsaint Crème. Fresh warm cornbread muffins arrived as we awaited our appetizers. The strudel puffs were presented and they were amazing. Moist crabmeat and creamy brie were neatly encased in flakey strudel pastry, drizzled with the herbsaint crème sauce. Heaven. Next our oyster appetizer was presented. Large, creamy oysters topped rounds of crisped bread, glazed with herbsaint crème. They were so flavorful and the texture was magnificent.
For our entrees we ordered Crawfish Monica and a fresh interpretation of Chicken a la King served on homemade herb biscuits. Crawfish Monica is a house specialty and consists of meaty crawfish tails in a spicy cream sauce served atop corkscrew pasta. Always delicious. The Chicken a la King consisted of tender shredded chicken in a hearty, savory herb sauce served sandwiched between crumbly housemade biscuits. On the side was a helping of tasty potatoes au gratin. Both entrees were superb.
Cajun Pacific is another restaurant where people definitely don’t leave hungry. The great thing about it is you will likely leave with wonderful leftovers that make a great brunch the next day. However you should never leave without trying the Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. Even if you can only eat a few bites, it makes a great dessert to your brunch leftovers the next day. A dense square of tasty bread pudding topped off with a glistening coating of sweet chocolate, whiskey-doused sauce. I’ve just never had anything like it.
I can’t recommend Cajun Pacific enough. Each time I go there my enthusiasm only grows. It is off the beaten path for sure, but absolutely worth the trip. Amazing value, generous portions, unbeatable dishes — don’t miss it!
Occupation: Wine Operations Manager
Favorite Restaurant: Sonoma-Meritâge Oyster Bar & Grill
Reviewed Cajun Pacific Restaurant & Catering: Saturday, September 23, 2006
Cajun Pacific’s dining room is only open Thursday through Saturday, and there was a deadline for submittal of this review, so after making reservations a week in advance, I followed up two days before the established date to confirm my reservations. Thus, I was very disconcerted when after spending ten minutes perusing the Sunset neighborhood for a parking space, we were told our name was not on the guest list. However, not to worry, the waitress promptly seated us anyways and apologized for the confusion.
This tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant is barely big enough for a kitchen, and if every one of the twenty or so seats were taken, it would be noisy and uncomfortable indeed. I was beginning to anticipate an unhappy experience, but once the food began to flow, all concerns vanished. First we were served a big, hot cup of andouille sausage and chicken gumbo. It was hearty and delicious, with a nice spicy kick. Wonderful, soft cornbreads muffins accompanied the gumbo, and I would gladly have made a meal of these two delights alone. My guest ordered lump crabmeat and goat cheese strudel with herbsaint crème glaze…light puff pastries with a perfect filling of delicate crabmeat and creamy goat cheese.
Next came a substantial plate of perfectly prepared pasta tossed with Creole cream and crawfish tail meat. It was rich and delicious, and I would have devoured every bit of it if I wasn’t already stuffed, but I did my best. My guest had pan-fried, pecan-encrusted catfish meunière served with two of five available side dishes. She chose sweet potato gratin and sautéed Blue Lake beans. The pecan crust was a bit flavorless, but the meunière sauce and perfect, flaky catfish more than made up for it. The garlicky sweet potato gratin made a perfect accompaniment to the catfish.
By this time, it was clear we would need extra large to-go boxes, but we had to try the only desert: bread pudding with whisky sauce. I could have eaten just about anything if it was dipped in this dreamy, gooey whisky sauce, and we did out best to polish it off in spite of being full.
There were only three wines available along with a few beers and soft drinks, but all were reasonably priced, and all were available by the glass as well as by the bottle. If you choose to bring your own wine, corkage is a modest ten dollars. All told, with wine by the glass, our check came to $97.00, including a full twenty percent tip (the waitress was distracted by the chef’s family, but showed a refinement more befitting the excellent food quality than the casual surroundings), a deal for cuisine this delicious, and we did order twice as much food as we needed, though I’d be tempted to do it again.
The decor was a bit cheesy, and the mismatched chairs were not all that comfortable, but this is a sort of family, neighborhood place where you don’t have to worry about your kids bumping into things or being noisy.
Since the restaurant is only open three nights a week, I asked the owner what the deal was, and he explained that he and his staff of two (a dishwasher/sous chef and one waitress) take one night off, and the remaining nights are spent catering events. During the holidays, you may order a complete Cajun Christmas dinner including a deep fried turkey. I may just make the trip from Sonoma this year… and I won’t complain about the lack of parking.
Location: Foster City
Favorite Restaurant: House of Prime Rib
Reviewed Cajun Pacific Restaurant & Catering: Thursday, September 21, 2006
Let me start out buy saying the food was wonderful full of flavor and cooked to perfection. Now that I got that out of the way, Cajun Pacific is one of those high-priced local dives; it was like eating in a closet. When you walk in the door, you walk in to the dining area — there is no lobby or foyer. I had my wife and Brooke, my two year old, so we were kind of in the way. And we stood there for five minutes before being — oh wait, we were never greeted. We just stood there for five minutes. Finally I took 10 steps forward to the counter past the nine tables and was told as soon as a table leaves we would get a seat, so we continued to stand around. I guess we could have waited outside but with the two dogs lying outside the door, my little girl did not feel comfortable.
After ordering, it took more than 45 minutes before we got our appetizers. As a matter of fact, 35 minutes after we sat down, a man with his son sat next to us and got their soup before us. Service was almost nonexistent. During most of the night our server (there was only one) would drop off the food and never check to see if we needed anything. Then after receiving the main course she did check on us twice in five minutes. By the time we got our main course, Brooke was fidgety so we ate a few bites then we packed up our food and departed, but not before ordering bread pudding to go. No one-course meal should take two hours to eat. This wasn’t just our problem — I overheard one customer say that she waited so long she had lost her appetite. The seats were so uncomfortable I was ready to leave after the first hour. Take out would probably be my next choice. Oh, and parking sucks; typical SF parking. The atmosphere: too cozy for my taste.