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Mar 31, 2011 05:03 PM

Romantic Dinner in Carmel/Monterey Pennisula

My partner and I are taking a trip down to Carmel, and are looking for someplace to have a really delicious, romantic dinner. We'll be staying in Carmel Valley with family, but will have a car, so Carmel Valley, Carmel-by-the-sea, Monterey, Salinas, Pebble Beach, etc, is fine.

I'd like to spend no more than $60 dollars for two, including tax and tip (no alcoholic beverages, and probably no dessert. we'd rather have more to spend on appetizers and entrees, and go get ice cream or something after). If it is absolutely worth it, I'd consider spending up to about $75, but that's really it, and only if it were a HUGE improvement over what we could get for about $60. Also, I hate going to a restaurant and only being able to order the least expensive thing. I like to go in, and have my choice of the menu in my budget.

I love Italian and French food, but he generally isn't a big fan, due to portion size and fussiness. He's happy with peasant Italian or French, and big portions, but haute cuisine with small plates and delicate flavors is not his thing. He also loves Asian food of various sorts, and so do I. Basically big portions and rich, hearty food, intense flavors and amazing. (We're foodies of the highest and poorest degree. This is a very special occasion, we rarely have this much money to spend on a meal, and want to make it worth it.)

We've been to Casanova and both LOVED it, but I'm thinking it's a bit out of budget. (I don't actually recall the prices, if you think we could do Casanova for 60 for two, let me know, but I recall it being a LOT more expensive.) I wonder if lunch at Casanova would be prohibitive.... Any ideas on cost there?

He eats everything, I can't eat pork, shellfish, rabbit, (any land animals without hooves really), or meat and dairy in the same dish. (I can usually work around meat and dairy in the same dish almost anywhere, but some restaurants are almost all pork, or almost all shellfish). Other than that, we're pretty adventurous eaters.

It doesn't have to be some stereotypically romantic spot, as long as it is quiet enough for conversation, nice enough to feel worth dressing up for (even if everyone else isn't much dressed up), and blow your mind amazing food. (I'm even up for blow your mind pizza, burgers etc. I'd happily spend less, and it doesn't have to be super fancy.)

Oh, and we'll be going mid-week (probably wed. or thu.)

Wow us! (And if there is something that we HAVE to order at a given spot, please tell me.) Thanks.

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  1. $60 inclusive out the door is tough but I have the following 2 suggestions:

    The Red House (in Pacific Grove) and Bistro Moulin (Monterey)

    Bistro Moulin
    867 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940

    Red House Cafe
    662 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

    2 Replies
    1. re: gmk1322

      I know for a lot of places, it's not much, but for two entrees, and 1-2 appatizers, no drinks, no dessert surely not impossible. At home in Berkeley, we've been to many places we get out the door for about 30-40. Bistro moulin looks great.

      1. re: Magelet

        We love Bistro Moulin too, but it is not cheap. We each had a bowl of mussels, $20. each. The wine list is very expensive too. I think it would end up to be over the OP's budget, but if you want to splurge, it's a great place.

        OP, since you are staying in Carmel Valley, check out the Corkscrew Cafe and Cafe Rustica. I think both menus are on their site.

        Bistro Moulin
        867 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940

        Cafe Rustica
        10 Del Fino Pl, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. We recently dined at PortaBella, it's an excellent choice in downtown Carmel. We dined in the front room by the fireplace, its' very cozy and charming with great food and very attentive, warm service. :)

      2. Alberto's Ristorante on 1219 Forest Ave., Ste. B, Pacific Grove -- in a building perpendicular to Forest (across from Safeway) --

        Nice place, but not particularly dressy. Service was good, but one time we had a brand-new server who was very ernest, but inexperienced. Ambiance depends on the other clientele dining at the moment. Enjoyed some quiet conversation over dinner with hubby and friends a number of years ago. Then a larger group of Italian-American showed up and things got livelier, but nothing too loud -- just lots more simultaneous conversations and hand gestures. . . still fun.

        Pls. tell us where you end up!

        Alberto's Ristorante
        1219 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950