Good afternoon, readerperson.
(That’s how one starts a guest post, right? Or a business email? I’m not sure what I’m getting into here. Let’s roll with it.)
My name is Dakota and sometimes I eat fancy dinners. Thanks, everyone, I’m glad to be here too. Generally, I eat fancy dinners when my company sends me on business trips to exotic locales, like rural Tennessee. In these places, which I will affectionately refer to as “cesspools” or “controlled burns,” I like to stretch the concept of “business dinner” into something that more closely resembles “taking serious advantage of my place of business.” By that, I mean that I find the fanciest fucking restaurant in a thirty mile radius and load up.
As you might imagine, rural Tennessee would not be considered the culinary capitol of the known world. It probably wouldn’t even be considered the culinary capitol of Tennessee or of a used condom found in a backalley dumpster overflowing with sodden diapers in Tennessee. It would, however, be considered a place that serves lots of BBQ. Lots and lots of BBQ.
Let’s pause for a moment to recall that BBQ historically stands for “Bar-Be-Que” which means “bar be what” in Spanish. The more you know.
Anyway, that was pretty much all they had on offer in rural Tennessee – great, fat stacks of meat, bone, and gristle, all pasted with a dark red sauce component. Seriously, every street corner, more BBQ. You couldn’t take two steps without running into fat man in a wifebeater, his fingers stickysweet with the remnants of a bone-in lunch.
And yet! In this vast landscape of incomparable meat-like substances, I discovered possibly the best seafood restaurant this side of drowning in the Pacific Ocean. Yeah, I know, totes unexpected. Let’s get to the good stuff. Let me take you to…Cafe Pacific
For lubrication purposes, I ordered iced tea. This is because my company doesn’t reimburse for alcohol. Ludicrous, I know! Fortunately, I was served the most one-of-a-kind iced tea you’ll ever encounter: A carafe of black currant (?!) iced tea with a side shooter of homemade simple syrup (!!!).
While attempting to assess just how much of a sugar high I was going to receive from the syrup, the waitress came out with a tiny plate. On this plate were, “compliments of the chef,” a spoonful of finely diced strawberries, granola, and syrup, as well as a shot of passionfruit/pomegranate fizzy water with tiny tapioca pearls. OMG.
Next came the bread plate. It’s rare that a bread plate shocks or surprises or really does anything besides provide the carbohydrates needed to carry you into a successful food coma. Cafe Pacific surprised me with an array of focaccia, poppy seed bread balls, and pita strips, along with two dipping sauces: pesto olive oil and almond peach butter.
To ensure that I wasn’t overly overwhelmed by the entire affair, I ordered a caesar salad, assuming correctly that such a dish can’t really be improved upon. It was good (so much cheese), but merely a palate cleanser for the next round of dishes.
The waitress returned again (she’d already visited my table five times by this point! we fell in love) with another small plate, compliments of the chef. “He calls it fish and chips,” she explained, pointing out that the tater tot on my plate was actually a potato-breaded piece of cod, to be dipped in the aioli and balsamic vinegar reduction. Too cute perhaps? Or just cute enough.
At this point, I was pretty stuffed. I considered loosening my belt or maybe just taking off my pants entirely. It seemed like that kind of place – what with all the compliments of the chef dishes, it was clear I was their best patron ever. But then the main course came out: Seared ahi tuna crusted with sesame and poppy seeds, on a bed of wasabi and sriracha dipping sauces, all soaked in a teriyaki glaze, with a side of buttered vegetables of every type, and another side of teriyaki noodles mixed with mushrooms and zucchini. I died.
I would have ordered dessert, but there was some concern that I would explode Mr. Creosote–style. However, I did sample the last “compliments of the chef” dish – a bite size cream puff with chocolate ganache, caramel glaze, and toasted almond shavings.
Let’s just say they rolled a fat, happy customer out of there. The next day I scoffed openly at the nearest BBQ establishment, knowing full well that it was not in fact the only dining option in rural Tennessee. There was also Cafe Pacific, a weird little seafood place in an old farmhouse off the highway that-
Was this a dream?