In the sophisticated dining room of the new Pacifique restaurant on La Cienega, guests can sit in intimate Japanese izakaya-style booths with curtains for a discreet dining experience.
Pacifique is located at the former Le Petit Bistro, which closed its doors in 2018 after 25 years in business. Restaurateur Joel Herzer and partner and designer Sean Leffers have transformed the main dining room to look like a West Hollywood designer showroom. Oversized white papier-mâché globe lights hang above a row of tables set for two and houndstooth fabric-covered chairs. The space, with comfortable plush velvet banquettes and booths, along with opulent gray, taupe, dark blue, white and black colors, exudes warmth and elegance. Much of the restaurant’s design takes its inspiration from the local community – many of the textiles and interior pieces were sourced from West Hollywood designers Kelly Wearstler and Rose Tarlow.
Looking at the beverage menu, I saw that my friend Feisser Stone curated the bar program with Zachariah Parks. Stone has reimagined the cocktails at the Wallis Annenberg Center of Performing Arts in addition to some of the most acclaimed restaurants and bars in the area, including Mosaic Hotel in Beverly Hills, Hinoki & the Bird in Century City and the Ace Hotel rooftop. The bar menu at Pacifique features a carefully composed list of domestic and international wines and beer. There are unique cocktails as well, including a martini made with almond-and-Castelvetrano-washed vodka, white honey, and a dry and pale fino sherry.
Pacifique also offers a curated bottle service menu that pairs single cask whiskies with bites from the kitchen. Other rare, cask and small-allocation spirits are featured in 1.5-ounce pours, showcasing Stone and Parks’ rotating favorites.
We started with what our server said is a fan favorite – a flute of Schlumberger grüner veltliner brut. This dry sparkling wine carried apple, pear and ginger essence with a pleasing finish. It paired well with the first three small plates that we ordered, the Japanese karaage, chawanmushi and chicory salad.
At Pacifique, chef Danielle Sobel showcases traditional Japanese dishes with seasonal California ingredients. The karaage, for instance, is made with mushroom-marinated dark meat chicken, coated with a light potato flour and fried to resemble tempura. It’s then served with a slice of lemon, pinch of soy salt and a pleasing spicy citrus aioli dipping sauce.
The chawanmushi arrived next in a small blue and white cup with a lid on top. As our server lifted the lid, I caught a glimpse of an egg on the bottom of the bowl with pieces of shimeji mushrooms and Dungeness crab meat floating in the hot soy broth. Within one minute, however, the liquid turned into a velvety custard flan-like consistency. The savory dish was warm, smooth and very satisfying.
The large chicory salad was delivered to our table with a swirl of date purée on the side, Pink Lady apples and yuzukōsho vinaigrette to sweeten the bitter chicory leaves. Mixed in were slightly spicy soy nuts adding texture and crunch, as well as a generous sprinkling of savory manchego cheese on top for a salty component to this well-balanced salad.
A glass of grenache from France’s Languedoc region went nicely with our next dish, the kohlrabi “tournedos” on a sunchoke purée. Kohlrabi, also known as a German turnip, tastes a little bit like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Sobel prepares it to look like scallops on a plate, and then adds rolled spinach leaves, king trumpet mushrooms and a vibrant citrus vinaigrette.
My least favorite dish of the evening was the agnolotti. I found the pasta too buttery to my liking, but I did enjoy the vibrant tomato and garlic confit on the side.
We finished with a piece of grilled rock cod placed on top of white asparagus and a mizuna (Japanese mustard greens) pesto swirl. The chopped green leaves framing the moist white fish were dressed with a kabosu and sansho pepper glaze for a slightly spicy kick.
Leave on a sweet note with dessert options like coconut panna cotta or an attractive lemon yuzu tart. The talented pastry chef Eliot Pardo, of Salazar and The Raymond 1886, adds floral lavender wafers to round out the delicate flavors of the tart. Or, keeping with the restaurant’s theme of Japanese and California fusion, try the chocolate molten cake with green tea ice cream. The treat, along with Pacifique’s pleasing dishes and great cocktail and bar menu, will entice diners back to the restaurant again and again.
$$ Pacifique is open Sunday to Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant stays open until 11 p.m. 631 N. La Cienenga Blvd., West Hollywood, (310)359-0788.
This review is also featured in the Beverly Press on March 28, 209