Go west to Little Italy, Pacific Coast has fun-to-share dishes

Written by on June 22, 2011 in Baltimore Bites, Featured - No comments

Pacific Coast Dining Co. offers some inventive and delicious appetizers, like these Firecracker Shrimp and Edamame.

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Little Italy is branching out into California Chic, and the results are very good indeed.

Pacific Coast Dining Co. opened at 413 S. High St., where Babusci’s used to be, in April. It combines trendy burgers, Asian fusion, fresh grilled seafood and artistically drizzled sauces with lovely, friendly, down-home service, and it’s a very inviting combination.

Pacific Coast glossed up the interior, but thankfully kept the “greenhouse” room that was one of Babusci’s best features. So it is still possible to sit in a window seat and watch the world go by, and occasionally wave hi to a neighbor.

I can also imagine a pleasant happy hour spent with a glass of wine and one of Pacific Coast’s inventive appetizers. We tried the firecracker shrimp ($11), which is plenty for a light meal: eight large shrimp slathered with a spicy red sauce, and served on crisp garlic toast. Get yourself an order of these and a nice cold beer, or light white wine, and you will be happy.

The edamame ($7) is an appetizer meant to be passed around the table or up and down the bar: a big mound of green soybean pods piled on a plate drizzled with spicy red sauce. The pods are seasoned with coarse salt and chili flakes. You eat them by popping the bean out of the pod with your teeth and discarding the pod. It’s a Left-Coast version of picking crabs: eat a little, chat, drink beer. It’s communal and slow-paced and quite a bit cheaper than a dozen crabs.

Pacific Coast follows the Cali trend of naming its hamburgers after the famous and notorious. Just as New York delis have sandwiches named after politicians and nightclub singers, Pacific Coast offers the Clint Eastwood ($10), a traditional American cheeseburger honoring a traditional American actor/director. But then there’s the Frank Zappa ($14)—surf-and-turf on a bun, a burger topped with crab dip, bacon and Fontina cheese. Or the Charlie Sheen, which seems like random things piled on a bun. But come to think of it, that’s a pretty good description of Charlie Sheen.

For vegetarians, there’s the Green Day ($9), fried green tomatoes topped with sauteed mixed mushrooms, avocado, Mozzarella cheese, lettuce and a red pepper sauce, or the Nirvana veggie burger ($12). You get the picture. Lots of burgers, lots of inventive toppers.

We were intrigued by one of the specials—a soft crab club ($14). It’s a Maryland specialty served with California excess—a nice big soft crab on a pretzel roll, with two slices of thick-sliced bacon, lettuce and tomato, topped with a creamy, tangy chipotle ranch sauce. Nice, yes? But wait, there’s more! There was a lump crabcake on top of all that. Delicious.

The sandwich was accompanied by a mound of Pop fries, hand-cut fried topped with herbs, black pepper and Parmesan cheese. These would make an excellent bar snack as well.

The fish tacos ($11) are a more modest but still tasty affair, little nuggets of fried rockfish tucked into soft tacos with lettuce, cheese, avocado (natch) and two types of salsa on the side. Fish tacos are a Baja California favorite and will please a lot of Little Italians too.

The service was friendly and attentive, and we left Pacific Coast Dining Co. quite happy. Lunch came to $44.58 including the tax but not the tip.

Pacific Coast Dining Co., 413 S. High St, Little Italy, is open daily for lunch and dinner. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m., and there is a “reverse happy hour” Sunday-Thursday, 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

by Jacqueline Watts

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