The owners of Cafe Pacific have opened the Restaurant Newport in Foothill Village. Except for the name and more subdued, low-key ambience, it is almost identical to its sister establishment in Holladay. Not only is the pastel color scheme of the interior similar, as well as a large artificial flower arrangement, but the menu is the same. Seafood specials with Japanese touches, such as teriyaki sauce, and shrimp tempura, anchor the familiar bill of fare.
We missed the Cafe Pacific's night-lifey atmosphere, however. Newport's recorded music is "beautiful," unlike the live entertaining piano stylings at Cafe Pacific. And there is neither a sushi bar nor liquor bar. But there are a few more upscale menu additions, such as the filet mignon and veal picata, not served at Cafe Pacific.We couldn't help notice how the Newport's clientele seemed to fit this quieter though more affluent approach. Customers, characterized with streaks of grey in the coiffure and wool in the wardrobe, appeared to be more gentrified than the yuppies that frequent Cafe Pacific. One of my dinner companions commented that the restaurant seemed to be catering to "older money."
Perhaps smitten by a false sense of our own opulence, we unhesitatingly began our meal with Oysters Rockefeller, so named because of its richness. For $6.95, we actually felt the dish was a steal. The half-dozen East Coast oysters were cooked perfectly, resting upon a modest bed of pureed spinach and barely covered with a mild Bernaise sauce. Gravlox maison ($5.95), thin slices of marinated salmon served with dark bread and capers, also added to our sense of affluence.
In spite of my earlier whining about class distinctions, the food at Newport is reasonably priced, and, like Cafe Pacific, very, very good. Who cares if the guy at the next table is detailing his latest stock success?
The fresh swordfish, grilled and served with a dollop of fresh herb butter, was perfectly prepared - moist and flavorful. The shrimp tempura ($12.95) was tender on the inside and crispy outside, and the accompanying vegetables were just as good.
Our helpful waitress also recommended the Newport chicken special ($9.95), described as deep-fried breast meat, served with mushrooms and Chinese green peas in a light teriyaki sauce. The portion was generous; a good thing because we all wanted more than just a taste. There was hardly a hint of the frying preparation, and the vegetables were treated delicately.
Each dinner is served with a choice of soup or salad. Both the clam chowder, creamy without the goo of a floury roux, and the beef vegetable were rich and steaming with herbs. The same use of herbs was appetizingly evident with the squash medley.
The extensive menu at Newport features Alaskan King crab legs, lobster tail, salmon (with Maltese sauce), mahi-mahi, halibut munier, snapper with pine nuts, bay scallops in cajun sauce, scampi, seafood confetti, chicken cordon bleu, veal Oscar, prime rib, seafood fettucini, pasta primavera, crab and cobb salads. The prices range from $8.50 for the pasta dishes to $14.50 for the veal Oscar. Several of the seafood specials are market price.
Restaurant Newport, coincidentally, is situated over a bank. But its class and wealth flow from neither its prosperous clientele nor nearby cash; rather its value emanates from its creative and carefully run kitchen.
Restaurant Newport, 1440 Foothill Drive, 581-1006. Open for lunch, Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. Dinner served from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Accepts major credit cards and checks with guarantee card.