Why: South Pacific Cafe is a slight change from 15 East Restaurant, which formerly occupied the same space. A full-color, professional menu, which includes a couple of new items, has replaced a folded paper menu and brings a sense of needed permanence to the restaurant. Dishes are innovative and flavorful, made from scratch and made-to-order.
On Sunday, South Pacific Cafe has a breakfast buffet with a variety of items specially prepared by the chef for that day.
Atmosphere: The décor — much of which has been built upon the prior design — is both trendy and Old World with a touch of Tuscan. Many textures and colors create an eclectic environment that is divided into three separate dining areas. Overall, the restaurant has a warm, comfortable vibe that invites one to linger and enjoy, whether stopping in for a drink with friends or dinner with the family.
What I Tried: I sampled an assortment of dishes that included the Thai Chicken Peanut Wraps and the Garlic Fries from the happy hour menu. From the other menu categories, I tried the Hawaiian Pizza, Cali Chicken Burger, and the Lime Tequila Chicken and Prawns. I also tried the Chocolate Stout Cake, Pumpkin Cream Pie and Tiramisu for dessert.
The wraps consisted of a chunky, cold chicken and bell pepper filling doused in Thai peanut sauce, a portion of shredded cabbage, and three iceberg lettuce leaves. I found the pieces in the filling were too large to reasonably wrap in the lettuce provided, which was from the core of the head instead of outer leaves, which would have proved soft, pliable and much better suited for the dish. It was awkward and messy to assemble. Conversely, the fries were easy and enjoyable to eat. Fried to a golden, crispy finish and topped with scallions and cheese shavings, the fries tasted like hot, gourmet white cheddar Cheetos — if there was such a thing.
The highlight of the entrees was the Lime Tequila Chicken and Prawns. This dish best represented the restaurant theme with a rich, creamy, citrus sauce that complimented both the chicken, which was tender and juicy, and the prawns. The mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables that accompanied the dish were both tasty and expertly prepared.
The Cali Chicken Burger was comparable to other gourmet burgers.
Unfortunately, the pizza did not meet my expectations. Although the dough was crusty on the exterior, beyond that, it was still doughy and tasted too strongly of yeast. Toppings were applied in amounts that overwhelmed the crust, especially the cheese. The pizza was served on a dinner plate, which caused the toppings to slide to the center and pool.
Of the desserts I tried, I was most impressed with the chocolate cake. It reminded me of a lava cake with its rich chocolaty goodness. The pumpkin cream pie had a light presence and the Tiramisu was a less traditional rendition with a heavy emphasis on the whipped topping.
Menu Highlights Beyond what I tried: The Tuscan Lasagna and the Teriyaki Top Sirloin sounded intriguing, as did the Elk Burger and the fettuccine options.
Other observations: I found the atmosphere to be very relaxed and family friendly with a layout that provides plenty of family seating away from the bar.
The service was friendly and attentive. There are items of interest on the menu for those on a gluten-free diet.
Cost: The All Day Happy Hour menu items top out at $11. Soup is $2.50 for a cup, $6 for a bowl. Salads are $11 to $14. Pizzas come in personal size and family size and range from $9 to $24. Wings are offered in six and 12 piece portions, from $7.50 to $12.50. Pasta dishes are $10 to $19. Burgers start at $8 and top out at $13. Entrees are $11 to $23.
Hours: 3-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. The breakfast buffet is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 15 E. Main St., Battle Ground
Health Score: South Pacific Cafe received a score of 10 on Aug. 28. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.