Saturday, May 23, 2009

Highlight #178: A very solid meal from a young chef - Restaurant: Pacci

In many parts of the world, hotel dining sets the standard for a city's cuisine. This is not the case in Atlanta, although we do have a few notable exceptions. I am glad to see that the better hotel dining trend is finally getting rooted in our city with quite a few new additions this year, including Pacci in the brand new Palomar hotel.

The setting is beautiful and grand in a modern way. It sounds funny, but I really love the big shinny balls hanging from the ceiling. Actually, I was just telling the husband before we entered the restaurant that big hanging balls and other similar hanging art must be the decor of this decade as all the high ceiling venues have them. And sure enough, there they were.

For a new place, our waitress really knew the menu. I asked for some recommendations and she gave them in detail like a pro. Maybe we were hungry or maybe she was very convincing, she happened to recommend everything we wanted. So we started with the carpaccio that was apparently the restaurant's namesake. The meat was indeed of very high quality and melt in my mouth. I also like the thicker cut, which, to me, provides a more pillowy mouth feel if one can use such a word to describe the texture of meat. Perhaps I missed the capers, but I would have sprinkled on just a pinch more sea salt.

With our appetizer, we received a fantastic basket of house made breads. I say fantastic mostly because of the focaccia. For me, focaccia should be luscious, hearty, and well seasoned. And this was all that. I had no need for the tapenade, so really don't remember much about it.

With a good bready start, I had lots of faith going for the house-made pasta and that faith was not misplaced. My fettuccine was every bit the guilty pleasure that all the diet experts warn us against. I like my fettuccine a little less al dente than other types of pasta and this was exactly that. The slightly softer pasta texture allowed for a smooth transition from the silky sauce to the sticky yoke once the soft poached egg was broken. I almost forgot about the shrimp, which were as well executed as the rest. But really, I could have done without them and being just as happy. This pasta was dreamy.

J has a preference for pork chops. This one looks rather plain but was salted just right and my bites near the bone were exceptionally juicy.

We shared two desserts. When the tiramisu came out, we thought we had been mistakenly given the sampler. But no, this was one dessert in three forms. So if we are talking ban for the buck, it seems the top choice. But when it comes to desserts, I always prefer the more moist, so I would have been happier with a more classic rendition than these interpretations that are more cake-like. The chocolate slab on the other hand was everything I wanted. The icing layers were mouse light yet rich. the cake layers were moist with just a little crunch from the nuts on top. Really awesome stuff.

866 West Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30308

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