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Monterey Fine Dining Recs

sivyaleah Jun 14, 2007 08:52 AM

I see several threads on casual dining in Monterey, but my husband and I are looking for more upscale recommendations in the area tho not necessary suit and tie fancy. We're heading out there the first week of July. We'll have a car at our disposal and are willing to drive around (in fact, will relish the opportunity having never been down in that area of CA). Good scenary would be a plus :-)

Thanks!

  1. j
    jaweino Jul 16, 2007 05:38 PM

    I've always liked Pacific's Edge and Marinus. Cal Staminov the chef at Marinus and Mark Jensen the sommelier both came over from Pacific's edge. My favorite big deal restaurant in the area has been L'Auberge de Carmel. I haven't been there since they've changed chefs and formats. The old format was only a 12 course tasting menu, and it was wonderful. The new one gives you a choice of the 12 course deal, which takes 3 hours or a four course, with choices for each course. BTW L"Auberge has just been added to the Relais and Chateaux group. I have been to L'Auberge's sister restaurant Bouchee recently and I think they're still feeling their way after being shut down for remodeling and changing chefs. Some of the dishes were wonderful and one was unacceptable. I think I'd want to try it again before giving a definite opinion.

    Montrio in Monterey has the same ownership as Tarpy's and the Rio Grill and is very good also.

    I think Masaro and Santos is awful. Passion Fish and Taste are two of my favorites. In fact I'm going to Taste this evening.

    For a casual breakfast or lunch with a great view try California Market at the Highlands Inn. You won't get a better view except maybe at Pacific's edge also in the HI. I like their burger and Fish Tacos.

    BTW this is a resort area, not NYC. There isn't one restaurant I know of that you'd feel uncomfortable without a suit and tie.

    1. s
      sweetnspicy Jun 17, 2007 12:11 AM

      I don't know why I didn't think of it before but Marinus at Bernardu is something you should consider!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sweetnspicy
        Ed Dibble Jun 17, 2007 09:01 AM

        Yes, don't know why I forgot it also. Sounds like another one that the OP would enjoy.

        ed

      2. s
        sweetnspicy Jun 15, 2007 11:55 PM

        There is a new restaurant in Carmel called Bubbly Fish they do Champagne, Caviar, and Chocolate. I think that is all!! They have little tasting menus to choose from. I have yet to visit but it sounds like it could be a ton of fun!!! Anton & MIchel in Carmel is one to consider. Or Fresh Cream in Monterey!! Hope you have a great time

        5 Replies
        1. re: sweetnspicy
          sivyaleah Jun 16, 2007 08:30 AM

          Bubbly Fish sounds fab for me, but my husband not so much, no cavier for him although on the other hand, a dinner of champagne and chocolate could please him :-)

          I just came upon Anton and Michel the other day on Open Table, it's one we are considering.

          I also came upon Fresh Cream but the menu is very similar to a French restaurant close to our home, not enough variety to make us chose it.

          1. re: sivyaleah
            m
            Moka Jun 20, 2007 01:16 PM

            Just to clarify, Bubbly Fish has more than just Champagne, caviar and chocolate. They also serve small tastings of salumi, cheeses, pate, other wines and desserts. The whole menu is a small tastes menu so you can have as much or as little as you want and any combination of flavors.

            It does sound interesting for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up after exploring the village, or for pre-dinner aps or an after-dinner treat/dessert. They say they have live music in the evening, which is rare for Carmel. It's on San Carlos S. of Ocean in a courtyard by Kocek jeweler. I want to try it soon, too.

            1. re: Moka
              sivyaleah Jun 20, 2007 01:27 PM

              This sounds great! I'll keep this in mind - we're big on salumi and cheese, etc. Thanks!

              1. re: Moka
                s
                sweetnspicy Jun 20, 2007 11:48 PM

                Thanks for the info!! It's something I want to try! it just sounds so fun!

              2. re: sivyaleah
                w
                Wendy_san Jun 21, 2007 05:31 PM

                Here is my recent report on Anton and Michel in Carmel...
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/405684

            2. sivyaleah Jun 15, 2007 09:55 AM

              Casanova is looking like a winner - overpriced or not.
              Passionfish too - this is the type of cuisine/atmosphere we're seeking for dinner. Menu looks great.
              The others are tempting but too casual for dinner, plus too top-heavy on seafood. My husband does not eat any seafood at all :-( so I always have to keep that in mind.
              However, the mexican place Peppers is a possibility if we decide to downsize it one night. I'm intrigued by the artichoke/mushroom enchilada, it's something I've never encountered in the northeast and we're huge artichoke fans.

              Thanks for the recs - keep them coming!

              8 Replies
              1. re: sivyaleah
                Ed Dibble Jun 15, 2007 10:37 AM

                As someone who lived in Monterey for 12 years and still visits regularly, I agree that Passionfish is worth a try - I think of it as the quintessential Mty Peninsula place. One new restaurant that has gotten much favorable mention here is Melange.

                If you are looking for real Mexican food, I wouldn't suggest Peppers. Not that the food is terrible, but it is more like Mexican influenced cuisine rather than real Mexican food.

                Two other spots are worthy of consideration. Taste cafe has some interesting and innovative preparations, and the Red House is a great breakfast/lunch spot as well.

                Also no visitor to Monterey should miss the Tuesday afternoon Farmer's Market on Alvarado in downtown Monterey. Just an amazing assemblage of produce and people. Leet me add that Point Lobos about 3 miles south of Carmel is beautiful jewel of a park with incredible views and numerous walking trials. It is definitely worth a visit.

                I am surprised that no one has yet suggested Pacific's Edge, which many consider the outstanding fine dining option in the area. It's outside of my price range, so I have no personal experience, but many others speak highly about it.

                ed

                1. re: Ed Dibble
                  sivyaleah Jun 15, 2007 02:00 PM

                  Just looked at Pacific's Edge menu - THAT is EXACTLY what we're looking for and not out of our price range (we're from the NY area and way used to those prices and worse). Thanks for that rec!

                  We fully intend to visit the Farmer's Market or at least, let's say I'm going to push my husband to visit :-)

                  Thanks!

                  1. re: sivyaleah
                    g
                    Gail Jun 16, 2007 08:33 AM

                    When you get your res at Pacific's Edge, ask them to note that you want a window table. They can't promise, but they do try. Also, they are not open every night, so do call to check.
                    We are spending our anniversary there too in mid July. :-) Please report back on your experience.

                    1. re: Gail
                      sivyaleah Jun 16, 2007 09:56 AM

                      If we manage to get a reservation. I tried doing through Open Table last night and there was a problem with it. I'm going to try again today and if it still isn't working, call them directly. Hopefully I'll be able to get in the door at this late date. I'll certainly give a review if we do go - I'm known in my local boards for lengthy reviews :-)

                      1. re: sivyaleah
                        g
                        Gail Jul 12, 2007 07:26 PM

                        Hi sivyaleah, I'm waiting to hear about the Pacific's Edge. Did you go? How was everything? We leave this Sun for Carmel.

                        1. re: Gail
                          sivyaleah Jul 14, 2007 07:50 AM

                          Unfortunately, we didn't. We managed to only get to Tarpy's which was very good and much nicer than we expected. Had a very nice meal there; it's a lovely restaurant on beautiful premises. We expected it to be kind of a more casual place - the name sounds like it would be a "dive" but it was far from it. Very good wine list, well run, interesting menu. Our reason for going there, was that we didn't arrive in Monterey the night before until 1am (which was 4am our time). We were exhausted and just not up to doing much of anything, let alone dressing up and going out of our way for a meal. We'd heard a lot of good things about Tarpy's here on Chowhound for casual fare and it was close to the hotel, so we figured it fit the bill for our state of mind and, it did.

                          The day we had planned for Pacific's Edge turned out to be such a long involved day of running around, that we realized we weren't going to make it back to the hotel in time to clean up and get re-dressed for dinner (the reservation we had was on the early side, it was the only one we were able to get).

                          I was VERY disappointed by this - but being a vacation, it's all about being flexible and having fun. Unfortunately, where we did wind up going was rather mediocre since we weren't able to plan ahead; Finos at the Wharf. Not terrible, but just average at best and way overpriced. But, it was close to 8:00 by the time we got to think about dinner. But I do have to say, service was excellent there, and it's on the water.

                          We were only there for 2 nights - which stunk. We really need to come back and spend more time. I had warned my husband this wasn't going to be enough time - he seemed to be under the impression it would be fine but did agree in the end it wasn't.

                          We made up for the lack of fine dining here by having much better meals when we arrived in Napa :-) I made sure of that!

                          1. re: sivyaleah
                            g
                            Gail Jul 14, 2007 08:08 AM

                            Having fun is number one, of course! Two nights is not enough, you must come back. Our next favorite place to go is Napa or Sonoma. Being native Calis, we are there often. My husband collects wine as a hobby and I'm a more than willing participant. Would love to know where you ate in the Valley. We are always looking for new, non touristy places.

                            Thanks for the newsy review, I'll keep Tarpy's in mind. Somehow, I have always thought of it as second rate. Nice to know differently.

                            1. re: Gail
                              sivyaleah Jul 14, 2007 03:17 PM

                              We ate at Ad Hoc, Mustards Grill, Taylor's Refresher and the Napa Valley Wine Train (this was a concession to my husband, a train fanatic). Here's a link to my review:

                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418772

                              We enjoyed Tarpy's. They served warm sourdough bread when you sat down. I had the BBQ Babyback Ribs with corn on the cob and substituted their scalloped potatoes for the fries which was a very good choice. My husband had the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Molasses Glaze, Braised Red Cabbage & Apple Butter - very good. We had gotten a free appetizer coupon from the concierge at the Marriott, it was "chef's choice" of 3 things, so we choose the Francaise Bruschetta with Sonoma Herb Goat Cheese, Roasted Garlic and Roma Tomatoes. It too was good, but we think it should have been warmer (the waitress made such a point of warning us of how "hot" the platter was, and it wasn't). We didn't indulge in desert because we were way too stuffed by that point. Wine list was pretty impressive, and like I mentioned service was very good, knowledgeable and friendly. If you go, look for the wonderful whimsical sculptures of dogs and cats all over the place :-)

              2. Carrie 218 Jun 15, 2007 09:27 AM

                Casanova = YES!

                In Monterey, Passion Fish.

                'Nuff said. <grin>

                1. James Raia Jun 15, 2007 09:22 AM

                  Sivyaleach:
                  I've traveled to the Monterey Peninsula for more than 20 years an have eaten inexpensively and eaten at restaurants with great reputations but overpriced cuisine.
                  In no particular order, here are a few quick opinions:

                  Casanova, Carmel -- Romantic, nicely prepared food -- overpriced.

                  Fishwife -- Pacific Grove -- A locals' favorite. Fresh fresh, nice atmosphere without being pretentious.

                  Peppers -- Pacific Grove -- Another locals' favorite. Freshest Mexican food in the tri-city area.

                  Massaro & Santos -- New Monterey (Coast Guard pier). Still unheralded and about as unpretentious as it gets. Good seafood selection, nice oceanview. Doesn't appear to be a restaurant from the outside, but the place does a fine job.

                  I also have a lot of additional restaurant and other additional Monterey Peninsula information on my web site, www.montereypeninsula.org

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: James Raia
                    toodie jane Jul 2, 2007 09:32 AM

                    I'd rec the Fishwife in Seaside over the one in Asilomar area. Quality of fish dishes is better. After eating seveal times at the Seaside location, I ate at the Asilomar spot and was very dissapointed. Dry fish, lackluster salad, etc. I like the deli at the Seaside location for po'boys and seafood salads to go for picnics.

                    1. re: toodie jane
                      Ed Dibble Jul 2, 2007 10:17 AM

                      I agree. The chowder at the Fishwife in PG is some of the least flavorful I've ever eaten. With so many special places around, it just isn't worth a visit (imho).

                    2. re: James Raia
                      s
                      soquelcalifornia Jul 15, 2007 10:33 PM

                      I had a TERRIBLE and TERRIBLY DISAPPOINTING meal at Pepper's this week. I was so looking forward to it, but our group ordered several things, and only the smothered burrito (in the green sauce!) and the roasted (grilled?) chile stuffed with some kind of cheese were winning. The tamales were like dried-out wallpaper glue, and the chiles relleno was buried in goo. Not attractive goo, but gloppy goo.

                      Definitely sliding or resting on their laurels. Believe me, I wanted to love it, because I did before, so much.

                      Nothing tasted fresh or original. Not like it used to.

                      Love Passionfish, very much. Everything so fresh. (I can't empasize that enough.)

                    3. m
                      mikester Jun 14, 2007 09:01 AM

                      Others may weigh in on this, but you might consider Casanova, in Carmel:
                      http://www.casanovarestaurant.com/

                      good reviews of the place here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/wDM9FVslT4fTv...

                      Caveat: I haven't eaten here, but my wife and I were exploring the village the last time we were there, and we discovered it (it's kind of tucked away, not on Ocean Avenue the main drag). Anyway it looked (and smelled !) really nice, but we'd already made dinner plans, so we promised ourselves to try it the next time we were in town.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mikester
                        sivyaleah Jun 14, 2007 10:04 AM

                        That will be one to put on the wish list - I've never read so many glowing reviews of a place before. Thanks for the link!

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