We could be persnickety and spend several inches of space debating the defining characteristics of a potato pancake and what separates it from a mat of crispy hash browns.
Yeah, we could. But the smoked salmon on a potato pancake at Pacific Grove's Red House Café is a popular dish—and this even though it's just fish you can buy from a grocery store, with capers, red onion and crème fraîche on hash browns.
Except for the potatoes, it's a combination you'd expect. And you might enjoy the presentation without the potatoes...or two of you might—they give you a lot of fish.
But there are textural layers that develop—a crackle and hiss of bittersweet char from the hash browns, the cashmere and lean smoke from slices of salmon, the crunch of onion and contrasting bite of onion and caper.
You could make it at home easily enough. But you will eat it here. It may be better to do pancakes at home, though. While malty and sweet—somewhat aggressively so—our order turned out rubbery. We needed a knife to saw through its crust.
Oh—you better love eavesdropping if you visit for brunch. One person showing plans for a redesign of the house—why would you pay well over $2,000 for a dresser? At another table a son who believes his mother went vegetarian for political reasons. You hear it all.
And they hear you.
Red House Café 662 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, (831) 643-1060, redhousecafe.com.