I’ve popped into the bar at 333 Pacific several times in the past as it’s quite the lively scene but never stuck around for dinner. The restaurant is always bustling as well so I thought it was about time to give it a shot.
It’s part of the Cohn Group of restaurants and the location is about as good as you are going to get in Oceanside as it’s right across the street from the ocean and the pier. It’s a large space at 6,500 square feet with amazing views.
They opened in 2008 and have been going strong since with impressive steak selections, seafood dishes as well as sushi offerings and a raw bar.
It was busy on the Tuesday night I went with a friend and we decided to start with a dozen oysters. Our server suggested the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, which provides that perfect grassy finish that goes so well with oysters. This is how I put that pairing in a column about oysters a few years back and was reminded of it with this most excellent pairing.
I’ve become convinced that half the allure of eating raw oysters is that it really gives one a sense of being of the sea.
For those who find themselves in the ocean on a regular basis, I liken eating oysters to that sensation one gets when surfing or swimming and duck diving through a wave, coming up to the foamy white ocean mist and breathing in the essence of the sea.
You can take that sensation a step further by following your oyster slurp with a sip of grassy sauvignon blanc that will give the feeling of lying on the beach amongst the beach grass after a fun ocean romp. That’s where I like to take it in my head anyway.
So, we were off to a great start. Actually, let me back up.
Before that we had a couple very nice cocktails from their extensive program. It includes 333 Signature Martinis, Vodka Inspired Classics, Decadent Cocktails that are more dessert-like and Inspired Classics. There are some very fun-looking drinks and my Old Fashioned was really nice. The vodka lounge boasts more than 110 labels, making for an innovative offering of signature libations prepared by the 333 “cocktail chefs.”
Also catering to the health conscious, 333 offers “skinny” cocktails under 150 calories. Their extensive wine collection offers more than 200 wines and there are a variety of local craft beers on tap.
They have decent happy hour and the lounge menu has some nice options but I will say up front that this is not a place for cheap eats, it’s fine dining and the prices reflect that both in the lounge and the dining room. That said, the level of service, the view and the quality and presentation of food live up to the prices.
Executive Chef Steven Zurkey has headed up the kitchen since 2015. The Johnson and Wales graduate had gigs at Michael Alberini’s Restaurant & Wine Ship in Ohio and Havana Club in Miami prior to coming on board at 333 Pacific.
Even with all the fish I’ve been catching and eating from our local waters this summer, I still could not resist the Alaskan Halibut special on a bed of creamy risotto. One of my tests of a kitchen is how they do risotto and I must say they nailed it. My friend ordered the 333 Filet Trio, a savory presentation of Thunder Ridge Natural Premium Angus Beef prepared with peppercorn demi, Oscar style and with a blue cheese crust. He was very happy.
Some restaurants with views like 333 Pacific rest on those laurels and the food is almost secondary. That’s not the case here and it was refreshing. It was a fine dining experience with an amazing view which made for a nice evening.
333 Pacific is located at 333 North Pacific Street, across from the Oceanside Pier.
For more information, call (760) 433-3333 or visit www.dinecrg.com.
Lick the Plate has interviewed over 700 chefs, restaurateurs, growers, brewers and culinary personalities over the past 10 years as a column in The Coast News and in Edible San Diego. He can be heard on KSON, FM94/9 and Sunny98.1. More at www.lick-the-plate.com