Quick Review-Tarpy's, Rio Grill, Stokes, and Luca
Dinner at Stokes: good, not great, based in large part on inexperienced server---slow, not able to answer our questions, not knowledgeable about the wines. Had the free-range chicken breast. A small but very plump breast, juicy. Highlight of the meal was the cauliflower, which husband refused to taste. Too bad for him!
Dinner at Tarpy's: this was a return visit, and I knew I was going to have their New York steak. Started with the artichoke, shared with another in our group. The tomato and oil preparation left it too oily for us. The steak was perfect. The side of sugar snap peas was disappointing--very few peas, and lots of cubed potatoes, which I did not want or need, since the steak was served over wonderful mashed potatoes. Good wine list.
Lunch at Rio Grill: a big disappointment. Although the corn soup was tasty, the bbq chicken quesadilla, on their specials list, was the worst I had ever tasted, and was left uneaten. It tasted like they used velveta cheese sauce. Husband enjoyed his potato skin appetizer but did not like his carne asada tacos (also from their list of specials), which he proclaimed "tasteless" even though they offered different salsas.
Dinner at Luca: we had reservations at Bouchee but decided to get here early (5:30) for a glass of wine and check it out. Enjoyed it so much we had hostess call and cancel our 8:00 reservation at Bouchee. We ate and drank at one of the few high-top tables in the small bar area. This is a very small and very popular place, so if you don't have reservations you need to get here when they open to grab a spot in the bar. The wine list features only Italian wines, which are offered by the "taste" (a half glass), a glass, or bottle (there are some half bottles). There is a full bar, and my husband had an Italian beer which he liked very much. As soon as we sat down wonderful cheese-breadsticks and a loaf of bread were placed before us, with a tapanade made of olives, garlic, and other unknown but tasty ingrediants. We grazed on a prawn appetizer, consisting of three prawns over butter beans. We shared a perfect tomato/basil pizza and mushroom risotto. I am starting to salivate at the memory of that risotto. We did not make it to dessert, but hope to try it again and save room for tiramisu.
My only regret was that we did not make it to Passionfish this trip--especially in light of the disappointing meal at Stokes. We always enjoy Passionfish, so I recommend it highly.
Hope this is helpful in your planning!
Great to read the review of Luca, as we'll be in Carmel next week, and have just heard about this new place. We'll give it a try. Liked Tarpy's very much last year; it's a deceptive place..huge parking area, big building, but surprisingly small and intimate rooms are availabe.
Share your opinion about Rio Grill, which my wife and I, and maybe a son tried fifteen or so years ago, and liked. Two years ago, not so much. Would not return.