The EasternPacific Grille & Bar doesn't offer patrons a bang for their buck
By AMANDA GRECO
Associate Scene Editor
The EasternPacific Grille & Bar proves once again that high-class dining and South Bend have a rocky relationship. This restaurant has taken the place of what was once Basil's; whether the change is an improvement is hard to say.
EasternPacific attempts to appeal to the epicurean eaters among us. Featuring overpriced entrees and a wine list with more options than the dinner menu, EasternPacific makes a flailing attempt at high-class.
Escargot, a common appetizer offered at chic eateries, is served here with — literally — poor taste. For a staggering $11, an EasternPacific guest will receive a mere three escargot. Typically served in a buttery sauce delicately flavored with lemon, herbs and garlic, the light flavor of the meat is not overpowered. EasternPacific, however, serves the escargot in a pastry whose sweetness does not match the flavor of the snail that lies dried up and rubbery in the center.
Another appetizer featured on the menu is oysters on the half shell. A half dozen of these cold-served delicacies costs $8. With a bit of lemon, the oysters are not bad, that is, if you can stomach the grime. It is not unusual to ingest a bit of sand when eating oysters out of the shell, but the amounts of mud on the shells of these oysters makes one wonder if EasternPacific bothered to wash the oysters at all.
Entrees do not include soup or salad; these must be purchased separately. A bowl of the soup of the day costs $4. The chicken noodle soup, which tasted conspicuously like Campbell's, arrived cold at the table. The least expensive salad to order is the house salad, which costs $3 with any item ordered. Consisting of approximately seven leaves of various greens and two slices of tomato, the salad is meager. The selection of dressings, while interesting and tasty, is limited to a few vinaigrettes. Other salads on the menu range from $5 to $14.
Entrees are broken down into three categories on the EasternPacific menu: bowls, dry-aged USDA prime, and fresh fish and seafood. From the bowl menu, guests can select from seven different dishes, ranging from a Thai stir-fry to lobster ravioli. The fresh fish and seafood category includes salmon, tuna, shrimp and (questionably) chicken.
A guest has two choices in the dry-aged USDA prime division: filet mignon or New York strip sirloin. Anyone who knows a bit about steak knows that each type of steak is cut from a different part of the animal and differs in quality. A filet is different from a strip steak, which is different from a ribeye, which is different from a sirloin. It is confusing, then, how EasternPacific can serve a New York strip sirloin. When the server was questioned as to whether the meat served was strip or sirloin, management had to be consulted. Apparently, the steak is cut from sirloin (the toughest, least flavorful cut) but is ingeniously cut in the shape of a strip (a steak considerably better in composition than sirloin). Perhaps this is an attempt to deceive the customer into thinking it is reasonable to pay $22 for eight ounces of sirloin.
The steaks are served with an arrangement of shredded vegetables and mashed potatoes which are more appealing to the eyes than the stomach. The filet, while tender and juicy, is rather bland.
EasternPacific leaves much to be desired, especially for the price one pays. The atmosphere is cold, even with candles on every table. The staff is curt and the wait for service once seated was too long for a restaurant with so few patrons. Overall, EasternPacific leaves a considerable impression only in one's wallet.
Contact Amanda Greco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Scene Stories for Monday, December 10, 2001