Not Quite Comfort Food

Fish Bar Trio Plus at the Pacific CatchPhoto: Pacific Catch/Yelp.

With shorter days and cooler nights settling in, I find myself wanting something a little heartier, but I’m not quite ready for comfort food yet. Here are some options that will hit that “in between” spot.

Pacific Catch

DUBLIN – Featuring a variety of preparation styles and ingredients found throughout the Pacific islands and west coast, there is something for everyone at Walnut Creek’s Pacific Catch.

If you’re with a group, the platters and towers filled with pokes, ceviches and shellfish are a great place to start. If not, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of salmon chowder. Filled with grilled salmon chunks, applewood bacon, potatoes and just the right creaminess, the chowder is the perfect remedy for cooler nights when you want something a little heartier.

I selected kanpachi prepared Hawaiian-style with a hint of citrus oil that enhanced the flavor of the fish as my entrée. A crock of crab mashed potatoes was my side of choice.

Entrées start at $14. Full bar. Open daily, 11am-10pm (11pm Friday and Saturday). 1305 S. Main Street, Walnut Creek. Another location can be found in Dublin.

Photo: Plucked Chicken/Facebook

Plucked Chicken & Beer

The only decision you have to make at San Ramon’s Plucked Chicken and Beer is how you want your free-range fried chicken—in a sandwich, on a salad, in tacos or as strips. I opted for the Sticky Chicky sandwich, with sticky sauce, jalapeño coleslaw, pickled jalapeño and spicy mayo. With all the jalapeños, you’d think this would be off the charts spicy, but there was a sweetness to the sauce that offset the heat perfectly. The chicken is crispy on the outside while maintaining a balance of juicy and flavorful inside.

I liked it so much that I returned to try the Tweety Bird. This time my chicken came with honey mustard and pickles. Skip the mac and cheese in favor of the waffle fries—you won’t be disappointed. 

Sandwiches start at $7.99. Beer (self-serve taps) and wine only. Open daily, 11am-9pm. 3191D Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon.

Chicken Roulade at Amalfi Fusion. Photo: Amalfi Fusion

Amalfi Fusion

If you’re looking for a cozy evening out, head to Dublin’s Amalfi Fusion where the chefs prepare Mediterranean favorites that will warm you from the inside out.

Dinner salads are large, so you may want to consider sharing. I enjoyed the Caesar with homemade croutons. Eggplant isn’t for everyone, but if you like it, try the baba ghanouj with garlic, tahini and yogurt.

Steaks, salmon and goulash all caught my attention, but I finally settled on the Amalfi lamb rack, which was encrusted with finely chopped pistachios and grilled medium rare to order. Fresh, tender and full of flavor, it’s definitely a standout on the menu. It was presented with a stuffed tomato and a mushroom encased in pastry dough that was amazing in itself.

Entrées start at $16. No alcohol. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-2pm and 5-10pm (9pm on Sunday). 7111 Village Parkway, Dublin.

Honey Grilled Pork (Moo Yang) served at Bua Thai Kitchen. Photo: Bua Thai Kitchen/Yelp

Bua Thai Kitchen

Clean lines and minimalist decor await you at Livermore’s Bua Thai where the samosas provides just the right amount of comfort for a cool October evening without overdoing it. Stuffed with a savory filling of spiced potato, carrot and onion, the fried pastry reminded me of a mini veggie pot pie.

Basil chicken curry is a favorite of mine. Bua Thai’s version features minced chicken sautéed with fresh basil, bell pepper, carrot and onion. I like bigger pieces of chicken, so I was happy to see that they don’t mince theirs too fine. If you like a little heat, you’ll be pleased with the spicy sauce that comes with this dish.

Dishes start at $9.95. Beer and wine only. Open daily, 11:30am-3pm & 5-9pm. 1106 E. Stanley Blvd, Livermore.

Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature on East Bay dining in the print editions of Your Town Monthly. A version of this article was originally published in October 2018 editions.

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