Those who live in, or are frequent visitors to Battle Ground, know there is a street front restaurant at 15 E. Main St. In fact, for a number of months, that was both the address and the name of the place.
But the long history of restaurants that featured Italian and Mediterranean cuisine (Leonardo’s, Dante’s, and Paparazzi) was recently moved from the Mediterranean to the South Pacific as partners Kevin Taylor, Nik and Mike Casetta, and Keno Leighty changed the name to South Pacific Café & Lounge, and the menu to feature items like Island Sliders, Coconut Prawns, South Pacific Pizza and Island Scampi.
They haven’t ignored their roots, however, keeping a dozen pizzas and a large variety of pasta dishes on the menu. They also feature what is arguably Battle Ground’s most impressive list of burgers, another half-dozen salads, and a list of appetizers, starters if you’re British, that fills an entire page of their menu.
The interior hasn’t changed much since its Dante’s days. The restaurant is divided into three sections, the lounge, a small and a larger dining room. It still seats just under 100, and has a warm, comfortable, neighborly feeling that locals have enjoyed for years, but the two young owners certainly have brought a new enthusiasm and some clever culinary touches to the extensive menu.
On a recent visit, we had the opportunity to sample that creativity and came away delighted by the experience. We were tempted by the Chipotle Ale Fondue, Duck Potstickers and Garlic Butter Foccacia appetizers but opted instead to try the Thai Peanut Wraps, Bacon Wrapped Prawns, their personal sized SXSW pizza (explanation follows), and a scrumptious appetizer size serving of their signature Jager Steak.
We thought everything was delicious, but particularly enjoyed, no gobbled up, the Jager Steak; generous chunks of New York strip steak smothered with their house Jager and mushroom sauce. On the long plate were several pieces of house-made bread (Chef Nik makes all their bread and pizza dough), which saved the day, and some embarrassment. The sauce was so good, this reporter literally would have licked the plate clean if the sopping-up bread wasn’t available.
Another favorite was the Grilled Caesar salad. A small head of Romaine was lightly grilled over flame, then generously drizzled with a tangy Caesar sauce, and all but covered with large flakes of Parmesan cheese. It was delicious, crisp with a slight char and was very attractively presented.
The Thai Wrap was a bowl of grilled chicken, red peppers and onions bathed in a savory, and slightly fiery sate style peanut sauce, and accompanied by fresh lettuce leaves to wrap around the chicken. Not to forget the SXSW pizza, created from Chef Nik’s handmade dough, covered with a chipotle cream sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, green onions, green and white parts, cilantro, cheddar and jack cheeses, and BBQ ranch dressing. We now know why it’s the most popular pizza at the South Pacific Cafe & Lounge.
To finish off a very filling and satisfying meal, we tried their two desserts and were overwhelmed with both. The Tiramisu is unlike any we’ve had before and is composed of a light cake, layered with marscapon infused with (no kidding) Baileys, Kailua, Frangelica and dark rum. It’s like having an after-dinner cocktail on a plate.
The other dessert, is a large bowl of vanilla ice cream, cloaked in a rich house-made caramel sauce that is generously studded with bits of cooked, crispy bacon and sprinkled with flake sea salt. Sounds weird, tastes delicious, right down to the last spoonful scraped out.
South Pacific is open Mon.-Sat., from 3-9 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., with brunch until 2 p.m. Happy Hour is all day, everyday. South Pacific is located at 15 E. Main in downtown Battle Ground, phone for more information at (360) 687-0418.