There is something unsettling about working on the internet at 30,000 ft. Maybe it’s the inordinate amount of pre-pubescent children that are wailing in my ear or the 40-something behind me who doesn’t know how to chew with his mouth closed (what’s he eating anyway?). Okay, enough with the kvetching, I can’t expect a chill session at Octane Coffee. Still, I persevere (I know – poor me .. right?).
Yesterday, a small group of us skedaddled over to Pacci Ristorante at the Palomar Hotel. While this was my first foray into their Sunday brunch, I already have several meals there and an impromptu chat with head chef Keira Moritz under my belt. Though I’ve had the desire for some time to inspect the brunch offerings, our jaunt yesterday was most certainly motivated by the little special they have running. Though I think it ends August 30th (meaning you only have one more shot), Pacci is offering up a flip for your brunch promotion. The specifics are simple: if you order from a select menu (roughly eight items), you have a chance to get a free meal. When you’re all wrapped up, the chef will show up table side and flip a coin. Call it correctly – you walk out there sans check. Get a run of bad luck? No biggie, the worst that happens is that you are only responsible for what you’d have to pay anyway. A heck of a deal, especially for those of us that have found our way into a game of credit card roulette during a Vegas binge (or two or three).
For this meal, I (along with two other brunch buds) ordered the Midtown Bene (aka – Eggs Benedict). This slight twist on this classic included the expected poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. However, also included was a slice of tomato, a touch of spinach and some prosciutto. Overall, this was a nice breaking ball (that is – a bit different). The creaminess of the sauce against the savory flavors of the thinly sliced ham worked in both form and factor. Prosciutto can sometimes be difficult to slice; this meat was nicely softened by the heat and split without difficulty. Meanwhile, the freshness of the tomato was not lost despite the fact that it to had become warm. Ultimately, the real danger with the dish comes in the form of the egg and the spinach. Here, the spinach was spot on. Overcooked spinach can be a death knoll for even the best dishes. Yesterday, it maintained softness and natural sugars. Meanwhile, the egg came up a bit short. Mind you, this might be more of a personal preference than a failure on Pacci’s part. All three orders included a poached egg where the yolk had solidified. I tend to think that a good poached egg will maintain some runniness. The symmetry in the three dishes leads me to believe this was an active choice as opposed to a failure. Regardless, it is something that might need some further thought on the part of the kitchen staff.
(Great – now he’s snoring).
The one lone ranger in our group went with the mushroom frittata. Served up in a skillet, the quiche-like item was simple and straightforward. The truffle oil was generously applied so that it was apparent in each bite that I sampled; however, I wouldn’t call it overwhelming. Also on the table was an order of the hash brown casserole. Nothing fancy about the flavors; however, the dish itself was served up in a square skillet, topped with plenty of cheese and the like. Meanwhile, some of the potatoes were shredded and some were sliced. It made for a starch-rich, carb-heavy heaping of goodness. I was particularly fond of the edges as the taters had crisped up a good bit while against the skillet.
The meal wrapped with a visit from the the woman who I assume serves as Moritz’s sous-chef. She was as friendly and inviting as Keira. Unfortunately for her, the luck must have walked out the door when Moritz took the day off. All four of us came up smelling like roses and got our entrées for free. All in, the bill for four cups of coffee and three side orders brought the bill to $28.00. With a ton of free food on top of that, we gladly left an appropriate tip. Service as always was proficient, friendly, and not pretentious. While the restaurant was less populated than a ghost town in Arizona, I don’t think anything was unusual in the service department.
At some point, I’ll wax blogetic on the décor and some of the nuances. However, the battery meter is growing ever lower – so we’ll have to cut some corners here. Further to the point, Laura’s eye for style and her understanding of architecture and design are far superior. It would be a disservice to you all to try and summarize her words. Hopefully, she’ll show pity and remind me of all those complex descriptors that rolled off her tongue. What I will tell you is that the space is well laid out, the ceilings are high, and the styling’s hint at something Art Deco.