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Carmel-Monterey-Pacific Grove Report

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My husband and I spent a couple of days in this area. Our best dinner by far was at Stokes Restaurant in Monterey. I'd heard of this place for years but never had the chance to go. Service, food, and ambiance were excellent. Loved dining in an old adobe that was serene and pleasant. The menu has starters, small plates, and entrees, all very generous. We shared a house-made fennel with eggplant appetizer, and heirloom tomato salad with fresh mozzarella small plate. I had lamb shoulder and my husband had pork. The menu supposedly changes daily. With a bottle of wine (sorry, it escapes me what we had), the bill was $120 before tip. We would definitely go back again.
http://www.stokesrestaurant.com/

Had lunch the next day at Nepenthe in Big Sur. Yes, the food is overpriced, but you absolutely cannot beat the view. We go there often and it was just as nice this time with sunny weather. My husband had the ambrosia burger and I had a turkey with bacon and avocado sandwich. The stellar blue jays were fun to watch, but they can be aggressive and noisy.
http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/

Dinner that night was disappointing. Had read about La Bicyclette in Carmel on Chowhound and decided to give it a try, but really wish we'd gone somewhere else. Though it has a charming and cute interior like most restaurants in Carmel, our entrees were dry (game hen for me, pot roast for my husband). Our server had the annoying habit of addressing us in plural first person ("Are we enjoying our entrees?" "Are we finished with our soup?"). You get soup and salad with your meal here but you have no choice. It is prix fixe, but the dessert is extra. We skippped that. Wine was good. We had a Georis Sauvignon Blanc and my husband had a glass of Georis syrah as well.
La Bicyclette is at 7th & Delores in Carmel Village

Lunch the next day was much more pleasant. This was at the Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove. This place had a line and we could see why. We waited about 30 minutes for a table inside (outside was a little too chilly). The cream of cauliflower soup was wonderful and the sandwiches were huge. The restaurant is in a cute old house with period furniture. Small and a bit cramped, but you feel like you're in someone's grandma's house. We'd definitely go back again.
http://www.redhousecafe.com/

Now that I'm back, I'm finding other places on the Web in PG that sound intriguing. Does anyone have any opinion on the Pinos Grill, owned also by the Red House Cafe people? Or Max's Grill, run by the former chef of Anton & Michel? We have still yet to try Passionfish or The White House. Also, how is the Cellar Door Chop House? Drove by Melange and that looks interesting as well.

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  1. Had a nice lunch at Pinos Grill (or Grill at Point Pinos). It is a breakfast/lunch place at the clubhouse of the PG public golf course.

    I had a great shrimp salad (called shrimp louie on the menu). Made with great mesclun, topped with 3 spears of impeccable asparagus, and covered with small very fresh shrimp, hard boiled egg slices, and louie dressing. Very good and satisfying. For some reason, I ordered onion rings as well, and they were perfect, flavorful and crispy, though the ranch dressing they came with added little (imho). It was way too much to eat for lunch.

    Service was friendly, room nice and spacious with some view, and prices reasonable. But the menu was more standard than Red House, if memory serves - burgers, fries, etc.

    Melange does look good to me too, but I didn't try it. One of my local friends did have high praise for the Cellar Door, but usually I'm not much of a steak person in restaurants.

    I'm surprised you haven't done PF or White House yet. My experiences with both are much more positive than at Stokes (though I may be in a minority here) or Max's.

    ed

    1. I just wanted to tell you that Passion Fish is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. Their menu changes frequently and they have a very proactive stance on sustainable and environmentally friendly seafood harvest. Their wine list is VERY impressive and the prices are low. They have a whole article in the front of their wine menu about why they don't mark up their wines. I would recommend the Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier, but they have plenty to chose from.

      1. We went to Monterey over New Year's and had a decent lunch at the Aquarium Cafe. If you have an early lunch (11:00-11:30), you'll have the cafe to yourself and a table by the window with a great view (but you might miss one of the feedings). Dinner was at Hula's a couple blocks from Cannery Row. It was fine (husband liked the fish taco) but the maitre d' was a serious jerk. I heard him make disparaging remarks about a customer to a waiter and be rude to customers. When we came in (w/ a child and infant) at 6pm, the place was about half full. We didn't know there was another room off to the side. It would have been quieter and warmer. He seated us a couple of tables from the door in the bar area. The next day we had lunch at Sea Harvest a couple of blocks from the Aquarium. The food was mediocre, service lame.

        1. "Had read about La Bicyclette in Carmel on Chowhound and decided to give it a try,..."

          Realize this is from the OP last summer, but find it mystifying. Been monitoring this board and the area over 5 years and can't recall any rec's or even where the hell this place is? Local hounds???

          1. Hello, La Bicyclette replaces La Boheme which was there for years. The owners "retired" and moved on to other things. We miss them greatly! As La Bicyclette is newish (not sure when it opened as they closed NO. 05), I would give it time to balance out-it is owned by the same folks who own Casanova's, etc. and they genrally do a good job, though I find their wine list overpriced for the area. There are so many restaurants in this area that it is easy enough to find a great place. Hope this helps!

            1. I love Passionfish: the chef shops at the farmers market, and he and his wife are gracious people with a talent for food and hospitality. If I lived closer, it would be my default restaurant in a heartbeat.

              1. I have to agree with Wendy san about La Bicyclette, in Carmel. We went there for dinner this evening, and had high hopes that the food would be as good as is served in the other two restaurants that are owned by the same people that own this one (Corkscrew in the Village, and Casanova in Carmel). We were disappointed with just about every aspect of this restaurant, from the over cooked and over seasoned (my tongue still hurts from all the salt!) entrees, to the inexperienced waiters to the ridiculous wine list ($1500 bottles of wine in a neighborhood bistro setting is just plain silly!), We loved La Boheme (the previous incarnation of this restaurant) but we will never go back to this one. Our experience was so negative that we will think twice before we revisit Corkscrew or Casanova, as well. There are too many good restaurants in Monterey County for any one to have to put up with the mediocrity we experienced at La Bicyclette.
                DeeDee in Carmel Valley

                1 Reply
                1. re: DeeDee in Carmel Valley

                  This is very disappointing. I also loved La Boheme and was hoping La Bicyclette would fill the void since La Boheme closed. I was planning on having dinner there the next time we visit, but will now have to carefully consider it. As you pointed out there are plenty of other good options in the area. Thanks for taking the time to update this post with your report.