Finding a place close to home that feels far away is more important than ever in this time of limited leisure travel. Pacific Eating House provides just such an oasis in West Omaha, boasting a heated patio, expansive windows, greenery, and comfortable dining room that transports you to the Pacific, if only for a moment in time. Opened in early March 2020, the eatery is the second establishment brought to the city by Darrell and Laura Auld, the first being Twisted Cork.
Originally from Seattle, the Aulds ended up in the middle of the country when they followed family here in 2007. The move afforded them the freedom and courage to open a restaurant reflecting their own personal tastes and passions. With Darrell in the kitchen and Laura manning front of house, the couple dove in headfirst, telling themselves that if their vision didn’t appeal to Midwestern palates, they’d pack up and return to the west coast. Lucky for us, Omahans did love it and they stuck around.
General Manager Brittany Love was managing a local Starbucks when she first met the Aulds, who seemingly possess a superpower for finding and retaining local culinary and hospitality talent. Darrell joked, “It doesn’t take long to see someone who has talent, and we can be persistent!”
Bar Manager and creative cocktail genius Justin Fletcher and Love collaborate on a uniquely curated beverage program. Growing up on the west coast in California, Love has an affinity for California wine but has grown to love and appreciate the unique terroir found in the Northwest. As her palate has matured and widened, Love delights in surprising diners with unique pairings and flavor profiles.
Recent favorite pours include the Domaine Drouhin Laurene Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir, an elegant expression of the lush Willamette Valley, and Col Solare, an award-winning Cabernet-Merlot blend from Red Mountain Washington in the Columbia Valley, the result of two famous wine families merging decades of expertise.
Cocktails are as precise and innovative as the menu, with Fletcher crafting his own ingredients, including tepache (fermented pineapple juice) for the popular 4-rum Pacific Mai Thai and infusing bourbon with Earl Grey tea for a the cleverly named 50 Shades of Grey.
Executive Chef Lee Moore learned the culinary craft at local restaurants, making fresh pasta and working up to a Sous Chef position at Au Courant. The diverse menu at Pacific Eating House is a collaboration between Darrell and Moore, and the kitchen prides itself on scratch components such as house made kimchi and traditional sauces with a twist.
Ingredients matter, and when the Aulds left Seattle, they brought with them a deep understanding of sustainability and quality. Pasture-fed beef, free-range chicken, and sustainably caught, wild seafood form bases for the final dishes.
Forging strong relationships with fish mongers enable the establishment to source unique, fresh ingredients not often featured on Midwestern menus. Much of the fish comes from Hawaii, and no detail is overlooked regarding how it is caught, preserved, and handled. Local farmers provide much of the produce, and the team is always open to new connections and ingredients, particularly those grown locally.
Staff have their own favorites, as Love swooned, “I love all the dishes but am partial to the ahi.” Big Eye Ahi is flown in fresh from Honolulu, crusted with pistachios, kissed by fire, and served with a tangy teriyaki sauce, fresh pineapple salsa and wasabi aioli. Each bite packs a flavorful punch with just the right amount of unctuous texture you’d expect from quality fresh sashimi.
The Aulds don’t expect everyone to love every dish, which is why some dishes are vegetable forward, and others, like the Crying Tiger, feature local Piedmontese beef marinated in a fiery jaew sauce served with house kimchi over yuzu (Japanese citrus) rice. Mahi-Mahi is also a customer favorite, served over yuzu rice with a spicy jalapeno vinaigrette and bright
Many plates evoke flavors and feelings you would experience while eating that dish in Japan, the Philippines, or Korea. To wit, the Bibimbap is served in a hot stone bowl with traditional flavors such as gochujang and kimchi, alongside Midwestern ingredients such as filet mignon.
Don’t skip dessert, the traditional layered Nanaimo bar (named after the eponymous city in British Columbia), baked in house, looks unassuming but is rich and gluten free. If a post-dinner cocktail is more your style, try the Espresso Martini, made with Hue Hue coffee rum, Caffe Vita coffee, and Pau Maui vodka.
Situated near residential areas, the establishment strives to provide a comfortable spot for dinners, parties, or takeout. Participating in community events, though limited due to the pandemic, is important, and the team looks forward to more neighborly interaction in the future. Meanwhile, when winter doldrums strike, refresh your spirit and stop in for lunch or dinner full of fresh flavor.