Where to eat in Carmel/Pacific Grove
In beautiful Pacific Grove, Passionfish. I regularly attend a conference in PG that winemakers also attend, and you will see groups of them headed to Passionfish for dinner. It's wonderful, and it would be my neighborhood place if I lived there.
Also, in Monterey, not too far away at all, Stokes Restaurant (sometimes referred to as Stokes Adobe).
The chef is all about local, seasonal, fabulous food, and my companion and I were moaning like pornstars when we ate our food, which I unfortunately forgot to write down. We just put ourselves in the chef's hands—he came highly recommended from another chef I knew, and every single bite of every single thing was just bursting with flavor. The rooms are lovely and unfussy, and it was one of the highlights of my dining out last year.
701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Stokes Restaurant & Bar
500 Hartnell St., Monterey, CA 93940
I had the same just ok experience at Stokes a few years ago. And a local couple I know had been there twice and not been impressed. But just before I had to leave the peninsula last summer, they mentioned having had two very good lunches at Stokes within the last year or two. So perhaps it is the rare case of a restaurant actually getting better over time.
It is on my list for this next summer's visit.
I ate there a few years ago while staying in Carmel during the Monterrey Jazz Festival and it was delicious. Hands down one of the best meals I've ever had. I can't remember the specifics, but the gnocchi in a basil cream sauce as well as the roast chicken were stand-outs for me. It's very easy to find (as all things in Carmel are) so just ask practically anyone to point you in the right direction.
Edit: Oh...it's good ole' rustic French and known for it's fantastic wine selection.