Get to Pacific Coast Grill for the Bag O’Bonz

Looking back at the menu and my notes from a recent meal at Pacific Coast Grill is making me really hungry, and it’s 6 a.m. That’s always a good sign. 
The vibe and interior at PCG is pure Southern California, and I mean that in a good way. It’s what a Patagonia store would look like if it served food and had a little more eclectic tastes in furnishings. The warm tones and retro surf art give PCG an upscale outdoor feel with no pretenses; it’s a comfortable space to enjoy some really good food and the bar draws an attractive crowd nightly.
Picking just a couple of appetizers proved to be a challenge for us as everything sounded good. We narrowed it down to the shrimp dumplings with port wine sauce, the Asian BBQ spring rolls with apple-wood smoked chicken, turkey bacon, and a maple soy glaze and the crispy cornmeal calamari with lemon and chipotle dipping sauce. All of these were very tasty and came in under $12.
You really could do a mix of appetizers and small plates to make up a meal at PCG as the variety and pricing makes it a nice option. So about the small plates … namely the Bag O’ Bonz which consists of apple-wood smoked Hawaiian-style baby back ribs and fresh cut Kennebec fries. Well, actually we had them substitute the white truffle fries from the appetizer list which were amazing. This is one of those dishes that look as good as it tastes. They serve it in a torn open brown paper lunch bag that is filled with ribs and the most delicious fries ever. It’s just a perfect combination and really worthy of a main course. The rest of the small plates menu sounds killer also with braised short rib sliders, Hawaiian BBQ skewers, seared ahi sliders, three cheese sea bass burrito and a spicy chicken quesadilla rounding out the offerings. Every one of these sounded really good to me and I will be back to try them. We still had entrées to get through so we held off on overindulging.
Which brings me to the entrées, which were equally enticing. Of course my dinner companion, Chef Zonfrilli, went with his predictable choice of the ribeye with truffle mashed potatoes asparagus and a champagne demi glaze — though I can’t really fault him as it was cooked to a perfect medium rare and quite tasty. I had the five-spiced seared ahi with stir-fry vegetables, mango-basmati rice, citrus sauce and cilantro-mint pesto. Again, another winner, though I harbor this secret desire to see a surf and turf comprised of ahi tuna and a smaller cut of ribeye — two of my favorite things that I’ve never seen combined. They offer the applewood smoked Hawaiian ribs as an entrée also, a turkey breast meatloaf, lobster tacos and a pan seared sea bass to name a few. I did not see an entrée over $26 and the small plate’s average around $12.
I must mention that I asked for a glass of wine that would work with all my dishes and they nailed it with the Walnut City pinot noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the epicenter of great pinot noirs. PCG has been recognized for their wine list as it is extensive and moderately priced. 
The kitchen is headed up by Executive Chef Isreal “Izzy” Balderas who fuses his specialty of creating fresh Pacific Costal Cuisine with hints from his Latin heritage. Balderas began his career in the restaurant industry more than 20 years ago and has held every position in the kitchen since. In 2003 he was promoted to chef at Pacific Coast Grill and Wild Note Café where his love and knowledge of Latin spices and flavors took hold.
Pacific Coast Grill is located at 437 S. Highway 101, Solana Beach  Open daily for lunch, dinner is served until 9:30 p.m. nightly except Friday and Saturday when they go until 10:30 p.m. Call (858) 794-4632 for reservations or visit www.pacificcoastgrill.com.

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