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Dinner in Carmel Area - One Night Only - La Bicyclette? Luca? Passionfish? Something else?

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It's my birthday weekend, and I'm looking for some advice. My husband and I are chowhounds, so we'd like to avoid the touristy poser places. The restaurant doesn't have to be upscale -- for us, reliably excellent food trumps "atmosphere."

We live near SF, so we have pretty high standards for Italian and "Californian" food. We are staying in downtown Carmel, so walking distance is would be great, but we're willing to drive a few miles for a memorable meal.

Some places I've seen mentioned are:
La Bicyclette
Casanova
Luca
Passionfish (Pacific Grove)

I have been to the Flying Fish a number of times and have had consistently great food there, but it would be good to try somewhere different.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. If you want more of a memorable WINE evening, you've GOT to go to Passionfish. Their wine list is spectacular - and their prices are basically retail, not the usual 2-3 X retail. I've heard the food is good but not great . . .

    Just an opinion here . . .

    1 Reply
    1. re: lmacschaf

      The food at Passionfish is actually great not just good compared to other restaurant in this area.

    2. We tried La Bicyclette and were not impressed. Although they are affiliated with Casanova, we found the food just ok in comparison to the former La Boheme, whose space and pre-fixe menu concept La Bicyclette took over. Where we almost always walked out of La Boheme extremely satisfied, delicious soup, salad and entree, we found La Bicyclette disappointing.

      Now if we lived in the area and could pop on over whenever they served something exceptionally good, which I imagine they must on occasion, that might be different. But with just one night and a birthday no less, I would pass.

      We love Cantinetta Luca, a nice, low key restaurant in the village, tasty and well prepared food, using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible.