Paraphrasing Chief Brody from "Jaws": You're gonna need a bigger belt.
With a menu as deep as the Pacific, the Seafood Grotto at Pechanga Resort & Casino is a real catch.
OK, we promise, no more fish puns. Instead, let's focus on the fish yums.
The Grotto is a collection of delightful contradictions:
Though carved out of an under-the-sea soundstage more attuned to an Ariel and Sebastian photo-op, it's still an elegant, high-end seafood setting.
The menu is stacked with Asian specialties, including a surprisingly varied sushi menu. The Japanese poke appetizer is worth eating slowly, so you can identify what's hidden in the sesame-oil and ponzu marinade. Was it hamachi? Ahi? Albacore?
But despite the international influences, there are plenty of traditional seafood-house specialties, too.
Take for example, the appetizers. You've got your tradition: breaded-and-fried calamari, Oysters Rockefeller, Dungeness Crab Cakes or the shrimp cocktail. And then you've got your Grotto-style world music: the aforementioned poke, clams steamed in Dos Equis Clams beer and jalapenos or a distinctive House Cevish, whitefish steamed in lime juice served with an avocado mousse.
Craving soup? Go international - miso - or colonial - Clam chowder.
And while you're in the mood to choose, you can build your own combination plate for dinner.
For example: Start with soup or salad, then you can pick 1¾ whole Maine lobster (above), Alaskan King Crab Legs or Australian Lobster Tail. Then you can add Filet Mignon, a Rib Eye steak or jumbo prawns. Your sides include red potatoes, steamed veggies, steamed rice, mashed potatoes, asparagus, pasta with butter or, yup, French fries.
Or you can select from the fresh seafood menu the same way. Pick from Black Stripe Sea Bass, Orange Roughy, Grouper, Atlantic salmon, Diver Scallops, Halibut, Ahi, Trout, Swordfish, Prawns, Albacore or Tilapia. And get it your way: grilled, pan-seared, steamed, blackened or batter-dipped and fried.
Me, I let the experts do the picking. They did quite well, thank you: the decadent stuffed sea bass was baked with lobster and blue crab meat, served over papperdelle pasta with beurre blanc.
The entrees range from steaks and chops to pastas and cioppino.
The Chocolate Trio: Featuring a dark chocolate tart, raspberry chocolate gelato, vanilla cream and raspberry coulis.
Profiteroles Puff pastries: With vanilla bean gelato and chocolate ganache sauce.
Crème Brulee: It was spot on, with that telltale fire-toasted caramelized crust.
Again, way too many choices here, from bread pudding with baked sweet peaches and crème anglaise to old-fashioned cheesecake to berry cobbler with a vanilla-bean gelato.
The menu is sprinkled with recommended wines for each dish from a well-schooled cellar.
All meals for restaurant profiles are paid for by The Press-Enterprise.
Where: Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula
Hours: Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 5-11p.m.
Beverages: Beer, wine, soft drinks
Information: 951-770-8504, www.pechanga.com