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Dec 7, 2010 05:06 PM

Dinner at Toast Carmel Valley

Last month a friend and I had a quiet, casual dinner at Toast Carmel Valley. New in the village and mostly a breakfast spot and café, Toast has just started serving dinner as well.

Star of the meal for me was the appetizer of fried Monterey Bay calamari. Tender squid with a near greaseless, light batter was tossed with halved seedless grapes that added a bright and juicy accent.

I had the fettucine with Humboldt Fog and foraged mushrooms. The sauce on this was much too thick and clumpy for me and the flavor of the famed goat cheese obliterated the taste of the scant amount of mushrooms. I’d ordered this because our server said it was one of the most popular dishes. Not for me.

I’ll mention that the complimentary bread was very good. It’s housebaked, so I bet that the other baked goods here are worth trying as well.

Toast Carmel Valley
3 Del Fino Pl, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

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  1. Found the itemized bill while cleaning out my wallet:

    $10.50 - Squid appetizer
    $10.00 - Small fettucini (nice to have a choice of sizes)
    $16.95 - Open food, which was my friend's grilled salmon over salad greens

    Has anyone else tried it yet?

    Here's the review from the _Monterey County Weekly_:

    6 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Tried Toast for the first time last night and it was very, very good. Funny, but the calamari was our least favorite of the few things we tried. It wasn't bad, just not rave-worthy but we did find the use of green grapes interesting.

      The beat salad with Humboldt fog cheese, candied walnuts and mache was delicious. Portion size wasn't very big (diners can get half or full and I was glad I went with full) but the components were of the freshest and highest quality. Also had the mixed greens with cucumber ribbons which was a very good, simple salad. Dressing on the later reminded us of the sesame ones used in those free salads you get at Japanese places but minus the creaminess and a more citrus-y.

      The mussels in Riesling and butter sauce were melt-in-your-mouth amazing! We both decided they were the best we'd ever had. Came with great skinny fries and the complimentary bread was used to sop up every last drop of the yummy broth.

      Dessert was a panna cotta with granola, drizzle of honey and fresh strawberries. Wow! Savored each bite, would order again and again.

      Wine list was local but not updated - we didn't see our favorite local winery, Parsonage, on the list so we asked and they had both the merlot and pinot.

      Toast is also open for breakfast and lunch.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Hi Melanie -

        I'll be in the area for 4 evenings in May. I have planned Passionfish and Manresa. One of the meals will probably be a throw-away...we land at 9:30 on a Wed....i'll prob be lucky to get a burger. you think Toast would be a good option for our other dinner? I wanted to do something casual the night before Manresa. My hotel (Hyatt Highlands) has a view, so I don't care about that. I'm just trying to figure out the best food. We like seafood best of all, but really just want to find the genius chefs, whatever they're cooking. Carmel, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, we're flexible on location, too. Thanks!

        701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

        1. re: danna

          Hmm, danna, hard to say. My dinner experience was mixed but i did see the potential of the place. I was staying with a friend in Carmel Valley, so it was a nearby neighborhood place for us to try. Would I drive a distance to go there for dinner? No, not the 18 miles from where I am today and not from the Highlands Inn. Where it could make sense for you is if you're doing some wine tasting in the area. Then it would be nice stopping point to grab a casual bite for lunch or dinner. I liked Toast's commitment to local ingredients, even if the "foraged" mushrooms were mostly absent and didn't seem wild in my dish. The Monterey Weekly article mentions that the chef came from Manresa, but I can find no other references for that fact. I do find a review trail showing his path from Ventana Inn to Paragon in San Jose (not that well thought of on Chowhound) to Aquarius in Santa Cruz. If he did indeed work at Manresa, then it might be an interesting comparison to try the cooking at Toast before your trek to Manresa.

          Whille I understand that you are looking for something casual, you'd be bypassing Marinus to eat at Toast. I've not dined at Marinus, but I have had Chef Cal Stamenov's cooking at catered events and have a lot of respect for his work. Or if it were the right day of the week, I'd be inclined to take the even longer drive to try Michael Jones cooking at the Cachagua General Store.

          Cachagua General Store
          18840 Cachagua Rd, Carmel Valley, CA

          415 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Melanie, forgive me for going a bit off topic, but have you been to brunch at Cachagua General Store? If so, is it basically egg type entrees or do they offer other choices?

            Cachagua General Store
            18840 Cachagua Rd, Carmel Valley, CA

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Wickets @ the Bernardus Lodge is pretty casual and has very good food. You may also want to check out Demetras Cafe in downtown Carmel, it's casual with excellent food. This past Mother's Day we had a very nice meal at Cantinetta Luca in Carmel, a casual venue with very good food and service. :)

                Cantinetta Luca
                Dolores St Carmel-By-the-Sea CA, Dolores St Carmel-By-the-Sea, CA

      2. I was here for breakfast recently and the service and food were both great. Love the local ingredients and reasonable pricing (rare in that area). We look forward to returning next time we're in the area for sure.

        1. Wanted to mention that Toast expanded into the adjoining space to open Toast Coffee Shop. It opens at 7am and has a big communal table inside and an expanse of seating outside. I tried it this summer when I needed a meeting place in the Valley. The coffee's good. One problem is that only one of the pastries was fresh baked that early in the morning. Breakfast can be ordered from Toast Restaurant to be served on the patio.