Sherman's Food Adventures: Sunday Brunch @ Cafe Pacifica (Pan Pacific)

Sunday Brunch @ Cafe Pacifica (Pan Pacific)

I've been wanting to try the Sunday buffet brunch at the Pan Pacific Hotel for quite awhile now. There are not really that many to choose from in the GVRD. There's one at the Sutton Place Hotel; but I haven't heard many nice things about it. The one at the Hotel Vancouver was quite good; however, I thought it lacked selection for the price. I still think the brunch at the Crystal Mall Hilton is still the best value; yet, the one at Cafe Pacifica is apparently the standard.

Well, today I went to find out if the brunch at the Pan Pacific could live up to the hype. Of course, since we are in Vancouver, I had to go on a rainy (snow too!) day. However, with the plethora of glass in the lobby and restaurant area, there was lots of natural light. I really could just sit here content all day with a drink and a book. The ambiance was classy; yet casual enough that you can just plain relax. I enjoyed listening to the piano throughout my meal. Before any talk about the food, I must say that the service was impeccable. I guess for $50 a head, it'd better be good service! All the staff went out of their way to make us comfortable and happy. You know the service is good when you don't have to ask for anything - it just automatically happens. I also found the staff very accepting of my picture taking; this was one of the few times I felt weird taking photos. Maybe they thought I was a tourist or something.

Now on with the food... The first thing that caught my eye was the big bowl of Cocktail Shrimp and King Crab Legs on a bed of ice. The shrimp were very large and fresh (very crunchy). The other appetizers included Assorted Sushi, Cheese Plate, Smoked Salmon, Corned Beef, Seafood Ceviche, Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Couscous, Artichoke and Pepper Salad, Cherry Tomato with Bocconcini Cheese and Cold Asparagus. The sushi was decent; but you would never confuse it with a true Japanese restaurant. The smoked salmon was outstanding; the slices were big and the salmon was melt-in-your mouth goodness. Surprisingly the corned beef was excellent. The meat was well marbled and it was ever so tender and tasty. The seafood ceviche was fresh; but it was not mixed very well. Some parts had way too much lemon and other parts had no flavour at all, despite the obvious bits of onion, cilantro and peppers. All of the other cold salads and appetizers were pretty standard.

Moving onto the hot food, I was surprised to find a relatively small selection. In addition to the regular items such as sausages, bacon, and Eggs Benedict; there were roast potatoes, mixed vegetables (baby carrots, green beans, baby squash, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, orange cauliflower and purple cauliflower), Chow Mein, Beef Curry with Chutney, Haw Gow, Sui Mai, Spring Rolls, Smoked Salmon with Fennel and Beurre Blanc, Mongolian Free Range Chicken, Halibut Wellington and Roast Pork. The curry was actually pretty good, with the beef being very tender and the chutney adding sweetness. The Chinese Dim Sum items were a miss, you'd be better off going to any random Dim Sum place. The smoked salmon was a bit overcooked (it's hard to control that in a buffet setting); however, it did taste good. The mix of smokiness, beurre blanc and fennel was pleasant. The Mongolian chicken was tender and not overcooked; yet the sauce tasted purely of Hoisin. The halibut was fabulous, it was a bit overcooked; but it can be forgiven since it's in a buffet setting. The pastry was flaky and not overbearing, while the mushrooms mixture brought an earthy flavour to the dish. The roast pork was also a hit. It was cooked perfectly, despite it's dry appearance. One bite into the meat produced the "mmmm" reaction from everyone. It was so tender and juicy that you really didn't need the demi-glace.

Nestled within the hot food was the omelette bar. I didn't get a chance to try the omelette bar since there was so many more food options. Yet, I did watch the chef make the omelettes and he seemed very proficient and skilled. The dessert section was quite extensive, I only got to try a few items - Creme Caramel, Cheesecake and a Lime/Chocolate Mousse Cake. All of them were as good as they looked (naturally there would be skilled pastry chefs in a premier hotel). So, is the Sunday brunch at the Pan Pacific worth $50? Well, it all depends. If you enjoy being pampered in an inviting environment combined with above-average food, then it's definitely worth it. However, if you have an eye more for value, then I would go for the brunch at the Crystal Mall Hilton. It's $20 less and the selection is only slightly smaller.

The Good:

- Excellent service
- Comfortable surroundings
- Food is pretty good for a buffet

The Bad:
- Unless you eat the whole bowl of shrimp and crab legs, it may not be worth the $50
- Parking is expensive (go for the parkades a block away)
- Some of the items are sub-par (not really acceptable for supposedly the best brunch in town)

Cafe Pacifica (Pan Pacific Hotel)
999 Canada Place
Vancouver, B.C.

Cafe Pacifica on Urbanspoon