Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Sneaky Oregon Coast Restaurant Reviews: Pelican Pub & Brewery
(Pacific City, Oregon) - Three Stars out of Five. You've got to love oceanfront dining on Oregon’s coast, with big views of really big waves and all the madcap summersaults they do, even if the trappings are sort of a pseudo-upscale. Pacific City’s Pelican Pub & Brewery is a puzzling creature that promises a lot and delivers quite a bit, but still falls short in other areas. I’ve nicknamed it “even Steven,” after that Seinfeld episode where Jerry discovers he can lose things in his life, only to have them inexplicably show up again in other forms and be replaced.
Pelican Pub is one of those commercial juggernauts along the coast that seem to collect all sorts of attention for themselves, and rule their little hamlet with a kind of iron thumb. These are lovely surroundings, fabulous views, and you feel at home if you’ve just gotten off work in more professional attire or if you’ve just come off the beach, covered in sand.
Still, the feel is a bit cold.
Then, the food has its ups and downs too – but high ups, and some off-putting lows.
I’ve eaten here a lot over the years, since the early 2000’s. I honestly believe it had something more multi-layered going on then. Essentially, the food was better earlier on.
Not to complain too much about what’s happening now, however. What I’ve had a lot of in recent years is quite good: the beef medallions ($15). Actually, it’s quite excellent, except for the vegetables. And this theme of ups and downs seems to follow this place. It could get four stars, but some aspects denigrate the entire dining experience.
The medallions themselves are loaded with flavor. They’re juicy with just that right degree of charred outer edges that you get with nicely done barbecue – that oh so wonderful darkness. If I was to fault anything, for some reason there is a slight aftertaste that’s a little reminiscent of liver. But it’s small and insignificant, and really these are a delight.
The gravy is quite good: a nice, deep, dark taste, and it’s always a pleasure to swirl this into the mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes are also quite inviting, but they do seem to work better with the gravy.
Up until this point, the meal is really good, if not almost exceptional. It’s the vegetables that come close to sinking this culinary vessel. Now, you can tell they’re trying to do something interesting here, with some blend of spices and what not that I can’t pin down. (Of course, I’ve never really analyzed it until recently, when BeachConnection.net sent me this assignment). Something always rubbed me the wrong way about the asparagus and carrots, although it appeared they were reaching for something rather upscale if not cutting edge.
But upon closer analysis, I realized there’s a really disconcerting aftertaste to these – it’s almost a weird chemical flavor. There’s a tang there, and there’s something almost tasty about this unusual blend. But in the end, it finishes with this bizarre chemical-like experience. I don’t get it, and they are missing their own high marks on this.
Pelican Pub used to have a fish and pasta dish with some sort of alfredo sauce that was outstanding, but that’s been gone for years. Other things I’ve taste-tested off the plates of friends and family didn’t really grab me, but it was decent quality overall.
The Pelican is of course well known for its microbrews, and these are pretty good. I personally prefer their India Pale Ale, although I’m usually a dark beer kind of gal myself. In those cases, I gravitate more towards other Oregon microbrews or Irish dark beers.
Their menu features a wide range of things, way too long to dig deeply into here. Dinner runs the gamut, from gourmet pizzas; various dishes that strive for that high-end, gourmet slant, such as fish and chicken specialties with the occasional Thai or Mexican approach. There’s plenty of sandwiches and a few pastas. Fish and chips, bangers and mash, some sizable sandwiches and some similar dishes to the dinner menu appear at lunchtime. Breakfast is also served until 11 a.m. with a large menu of egg concoctions, omelets and the usual suspects. Much of the main entrée plates are in the $10 - $15 range, which makes them more expensive than many family-oriented spots on the coast.
In the end, can I recommend this place? You bet. I’ll go back at least once a year when in town. It sure beats other, cheaper restaurants for the screaming baby set. But I have to judge it on its approach, its own apparent mission. Expectations are higher when you have a menu loaded with such interesting blends of ingredients at prices like this. It comes across as something a little bit Pearl District, rather than some tourist trap family dining dive. There are many moments it attains that upscale reach or comes close, but there’s a few elements that can drag the meal down.
Perhaps stick with simpler dishes and keep the expectations down a bit, or be prepared to have an excellent meal with some disappointing aspects. Pelican Pub & Brewery. Located on the main drag of the Three Capes Loop. Pacific City, Oregon. (503) 965-7007.