Monday, September 1, 2008

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

One of my favorite types of food in this great big world is Cajun food, yet living so far away from the heart of Cajun country, it is hard to find a reliably good and authentic taste of this cuisine. I will readily admit since I grew up in California, I am not a genuine authority on all things Cajun, so take this review with that in mind. I have, however, spent some time in the Crescent City, and even enjoyed a few traditional, home cooked meals while there. So it is with the memories of my visit to that city and the amazing food that I enjoyed there that I have sought out a place right here in my own back yard to once again experience those unique flavors.

So when the missus and I stumbled upon a small Cajun restaurant deep in the Sunset district, we knew we may have found something special. Cajun Pacific, a restaurant space no larger than our small city apartment, is shrouded in the fog of the Sunset at 47th Avenue on Irving. As they operate mainly as a catering company, Cajun Pacific is open only on weekends, and not necessarily every weekend of the month. The limited days they are open and the very limited seating, (the dining rooms seats about 20 people) are just a couple of the reasons this hidden gem draws such a loyal following. The main reason, of course, is the food, prepared and served with care by a staff of three. The menu changes weekly, so to find out what's for dinner and make your reservations, sign up to be on their mailing list from their website.

On the night we went, our party of three was seated at a small table next to the open kitchen, which is a relative statement considering the front door is only about fifteen feet from the kitchen proper. From the menu, we ordered the fried blue cheese soft shell crabs with bourbon brown butter, crab stuffed strudel with herbsaint cream, and pork tenderloin medallions with allspice oil to start.

(Please forgive the quality of these pictures... the restaurant is quite dark, and we only had an iphone to snap the pics. You make due with what you have, right?) Our starters were amazing, each with a perfect balance of spice and flavor. My starter, the fried soft shell crab, left me wanting more. But we had our entrees coming. Around the table, we ordered the creole crawfish and pasta, the chicken ala king on herb biscuits, and the New Orleans barbecue shrimp.

The flavors in our respective entrees were fantastic. The missus really enjoyed her chicken ala king, and I for one could have kept shoveling more of the crawfish pasta into my maw if not for my pesky stomach getting so full. Mrs. Rosewater's father, our third diner, kept raving about his shrimp. Even though we had stuffed ourselves to the bursting point with fried crab, crawfish, shrimp, etc, we all dug deep and made room for dessert: A bread pudding with whiskey sauce.

Each of us agreed that this bread pudding was the highlight of the meal. The bread had a crunchy, toasted exterior and a soft, sweet interior, and the whole thing was drowned in a sweet and tangy whiskey sauce that was far too good for words. It was one of the best desserts that I have experienced in some time, and would even consider making the trip back to this restaurant for nothing else but another service of this bread pudding.

This tiny little restaurant tucked deep in the Sunset of San Francisco is very quaint and unassuming; indeed you probably wouldn't notice it if you didn't already know it was there. The service is a little slow, but is surely worth the wait. It is a very intimate setting, so be prepared to get cozy with the people at the tables next to you. The staff is very friendly, especially Stacy, the co-owner and sole waitress of the restaurant. I strongly recommend getting reservations, especially for any party larger than two people, as the restaurant fills up fast and they rarely have room for walk-ins. Lastly, if you have been aching for true cajun flavors right here in our fair city, I see no reason to look any further than Cajun Pacific. This place is as close as you are going to get to New Orleans cuisine without actually going there. Bon appetit!