By David Minsky
By Jen Mangham
By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
By Laine Doss
By Zachary Fagenson
Purists will admire Pacific Time's penchant for informing the diner as to the origins of each fish, whether farm-raised or line-caught. In the case of the wok-sauteed line-caught tuna, this information will no doubt be of comfort to the animal rights-conscious. Slices of rare tuna were seared around the edges like Japanese tataki and laid out like flower petals on a mound of miso noodles. Scallions and tomatoes enlivened the sublime, meaty fish.
The restaurant's premier preparation might well be the oven-roasted whole Maine lobster. Its body was split fra diavolo-style down the middle, and the meat, cut into bite-size pieces, was placed symmetrically on a bed of jasmine rice inside the halved shell. Thai-spiced coconut milk and peanuts were the dominant flavors in the palate-challenging rice; though the rice lacked any balancing sweetness, the butter-smoothness of the lobster adequately compensated.
At $32, however, this dish seemed pricey, given the one-and-a-quarter-pound lobster I was served. Another, far more unpleasant revelation, was the small fly I discovered on the side of the plate after I'd taken a few bites. When we called over the waiter, he apologized, whisked away the plate, and returned with a new one -- but with the same partially eaten lobster and without a word of acknowledgement from the kitchen.
In my several visits to Pacific Time, this was the single negative note. I'm not about to blame the restaurant for an insect that may not have found its fatal way onto my plate until after the dish had left the kitchen; it could have happened anywhere. What I do take issue with is the management's halfhearted response.
Perhaps I'm especially irked because I only recently returned from a trip to Seattle, a birthplace of the cuisine Pacific Time brings to South Florida. One element of the Pacific Rim philosophy doesn't seem to have survived the journey: hospitality. At Seattle's Dahlia Lounge, for example, a popular restaurant (and deservedly so), the management treated my companion and me to a free appetizer and a free glass of wine -- because they were fifteen minutes late in seating us, despite the fact that we'd made a reservation. At Pacific Time, a bug on my dinner didn't even draw the chef out of the kitchen.
But then, that's typical of South Beach, where you can wait 45 minutes to be seated at the table you reserved and not be offered so much as a glass of water.
Besides, dessert was almost enough to make me forget all about it. Pastry chef Jennifer Warren's dazzling array of sweets is enough to drown any diner's pique in a caloric frenzy. Our favorite, the baked-to-order chocolate bomb, was a small, souffle-shape cake that the waiter opened at the table with an accompanying "Kaboom!" as the melted dark chocolate filling spilled forth. Corny, yes. But captivating. Bittersweet chocolate sorbet laden with cocoa and doused with an intense raspberry infusion was likewise matchless. Frozen lemon "fraeche," a citrus-perfumed scoop of light yellow cream surrounded by poached blueberries and topped with an upright construction of sugared shortbread triangles, was yet another fine end to a summer evening's meal. And a Tahitian vanilla creme brnlee with candied ginger and a delicate caramelized crust was the smoothest, most delectable version of this traditional dessert I've tasted recently.
Expertly prepared Asian-touched cuisine has earned Pacific Time inarguable local status, and a full house even in the slowest season. Odds are its second anniversary will bring additional kudos -- the kind of buzz inspired by great cuisine and not the proverbial fly in the soup.