There are two types of people in the world: people who like their cookies soft and chewy, and people who like their cookies crispy and crumbly. I have always counted myself among the latter, but I’ve been cheating lately.
The chocolate chip cookies at Pacific Pearl Cafe in San Juan Capistrano are baked specifically for those people who like their cookies soft and chewy. They are big and thick, and while they are shaped like cookies they have a flavor and internal texture that reminds me, almost, of devil’s food cake. They are like whoopie pies without the whoopie. They are sprinkled liberally with Malden sea salt. They are not crispy or crumbly in the slightest. I find myself unable to stop eating these things, despite my usual proclivities toward just the opposite.
The tiny cafe and coffee bar, which accommodates only a few customers at a time indoors and a few more on the sidewalk, is run by Michael Campbell, who was the opening chef at Pueblo in Costa Mesa and also cooked at The Loft at the Montage in Laguna Beach (as well as RN74 in San Francisco). Pacific Pearl is the name of his private catering company and now also this little cafe, where the chef serves an extremely limited menu (mostly pastries and sandwiches) for breakfast and lunch.
Pacific Pearl Cafe
Where: 31654 Rancho Viejo Rd., San Juan Capistrano
When: Mon.-Fri., breakfast and lunch