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Car week, Monterey

steve h. Jul 16, 2011 12:44 PM


Deb and I will be in the Monterey area for car week. I already have reservations at Passionfish (been there) and 1833 (new to me). Crown and Anchor is my bar of choice. I could use a couple of dinner recommendations and maybe a few lunch spots. We're adventurous omnivores. We'll have a car.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.


701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

  1. Melanie Wong Aug 23, 2011 05:07 PM

    Would love to hear about 1833 when you have a chance. The pre-opening PR was so over the top for that place not sure anyone could live up to that hype.

    We arrived in Pebble yesterday afternoon to a convoy of semis leaving the area. Today there's still a ton of breaking down and packing still in progress.

    1833 Restaurant
    500 Hartnell St, Monterey, CA 93940

    10 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      steve h. Aug 24, 2011 02:52 PM

      Howdy Melanie,

      Pressed for time so here's the short version:

      Deb and I popped in Friday night and cherry picked the appetizer menu. The crispy pork was pretty good and served as a decent nibble while we read the menu. We sampled the crispy hen egg, charred baby octopus, warm goat cheese custard and the foie gras terrine. A glass of Scarpetta to bridge the transition to a pleasant room in the back. A modest Barolo was our bottle.

      We returned Sunday night because we liked our first visit. We tried the bone marrow, gnocchi, fettuccini. Wines (glass of Scarpetta while reading the menu) and another bottle of Barolo with the meal.

      All-in-all, this is a nice restaurant with an attentive staff. The inside rooms are handsome and can easily accommodate singles/couples and groups of twelve. Staff is knowledgable without being intrusive.

      Here are some pluses and minuses:

      • Forget the bone marrow. They slit the bone lengthwise, pack the interior with a bread/herb mix. Sometimes the old-school methods are best.

      • The fettuccini is house made and quite good. Evoo, fresh garlic, speck, dandelion, summer tomatoes, sea salt. A very clean dish. I liked it. The portion may seem small to some but it was just right to me.

      • The gnocchi with favas, morels and crispy bacon (San Daniele ham) is really good. It's a big plate and worthy of sharing.

      • The foie gras terrine is merely ok. I won't order it again.

      • The apple mille feuilles is pretty good.

      1833 is a very decent destination. I like the staff, I like the rooms, I like the food. Manage your expectations and you'll have a good time. Bring a city attitude and you're setting yourself up for a disappointment.

      As always, this is just my $0.02. The place is young and should have a bright future.


      1. re: steve h.
        Gail Aug 24, 2011 07:20 PM

        Steve, thanks for the review, been curious about this place. When you get a chance please post about other places you dined.

        1. re: Gail
          steve h. Aug 26, 2011 02:27 PM

          Howdy Gail,
          Deb and I woke up at 5 a.m. Thursday morning, caught a car to JFK, touched down in SFO, got our rental and, counter-intuitive, drove up to HWY 1. A few hours later we pulled into our hotel on Alvarado Street in Monterey. We freshened up a bit, renewed friendships at Crown and Anchor (my goto Monterey bar) and drove to PassionFish in Pacific Grove.

          PassionFish lives in a time warp in the sense that nothing has changed since our visit exactly one year ago. We were warmly greeted and politely escorted to our table (they remembered my birthday). Deb and I enjoyed a lovely cava while reading the menu.

          Arincini to start (quite good), burrata was ok. The salmon, a special, was appreciated more by Deb than me. We do better at home but that's a really subjective thing.

          We washed our meal down with a Lopez de Heredia. It was a good wine at a good price point. Coffee to finish (espresso is not an option).

          Service was good, wine selection was good, food was ok. I'll talk about other places as time permits.

          1. re: steve h.
            Gail Aug 26, 2011 03:08 PM

            Thanks for the PF report. It is very popular on this board,with a few exceptions.
            >>> Crown and Anchor (my goto Monterey bar) <<<
            Must have missed this place. Hate when that happens! Is it the pub on the muni pier?
            Hope you got back into JFK before the storm closing tomorrow, I think.

            1. re: Gail
              steve h. Aug 26, 2011 03:48 PM

              It's just off Alvarado on W Franklin. It can get crowded. Figure out what times work for you. Food is decent, pub drinks are superb. It's a comfortable place where locals, navy types and folk like me feel right at home. Tourists sometimes wander in and are treated with respect. Please take time to introduce yourself to the owners.
              And yes, we're back home now. Deb has Zuni chicken on the menu tonight. Storms are storms. Plenty of beer and wine in the house, batteries and candles, too. Thanks for asking.

              1. re: steve h.
                steve h. Aug 27, 2011 04:37 PM

                Drinks: I like them. Barkeep at the Monterey Plaza Hotel Bar is pretty good. Deb and I walked in after a hike down to the Pacific Grove border. Rum drinks for me, Deb was into classic gin and tonic. This was a decent stop on our way back to Alvarado Street for the auction stuff. I enjoyed chatting with staff.

                Cafe Fina, across from Domenico's on Fisherman's Wharf, has a wood-fired oven and makes a decent Pizza Margherita. We sat in the back in the corner so I had terrific views on two sides. Prosecco to start, fried calamari was the nibble. Monterey "gets" calamari. The pizza was pretty good. Service is professional and friendly without being cloying. Don't look down your nose on this modest, little place. It has Domenico's DNA but in a more homey, neighborhood fashion.

                1. re: steve h.
                  steve h. Aug 27, 2011 05:20 PM

                  Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best driver's roads in North America. I took Deb for a ride south from Monterey, past our old stomping grounds, to Nepenthe. No food, no drinks, just the views. On the way back north, we saw many Lambos, Ferraris, etc. in what I would like to think is their natural environment. Big Sur Bakery was ridiculously crowded so we continued to drive north.

                  Carmel is interesting. I like to sneak in from the Ocean Avenue side, find a side street and park the rental. Cars on the Avenue is a big deal. It's free and the car/people watching is pretty good. Interestingly, there's still pretty good people/car watching a day or two later. Deb and I like to grab a (half-pound) cheeseburger and onion rings at the Hog's Breath Inn. We sit in the bar.

                  1. re: steve h.
                    steve h. Aug 28, 2011 01:13 PM

                    Sunday during Car Week means the Concours at Pebble Beach. I packed a picnic basket (sourced at Trader Joe's) with bread, salumi, wine, cheese, pate'. Sparkling wine from an on-site kiosk as we looked at this year's fabulous offerings. This is the 61st year: it just keeps getting better. We picnicked just off the 18th green against a white picket fence. Passersby were envious.

                    Friday's RM Auction was brilliant. Saturday's RM Auction exceeded all expectations. I expected a bidding war to erupt over a stunning 540K Mercedes ($8.8 million before fees), what I didn't expect was two ladies going gaga for Steve McQueen's 1970 Porsche 911. A bidding war ensued and one lady emerged victorious and ridiculously happy.

                    All-in-all, a good time was had by all. I was a registered bidder. I told Deb to sit on her hands and not sneeze. I didn't buy anything but it was a real privilege hanging out in Monterey/Pebble Beach for Car Week. I have reservations for next year. I hope to hit some new places and revisit some old friends.

                  2. re: steve h.
                    souschef Aug 27, 2011 09:44 PM

                    I ate once at Domenico's and once at Cafe Fina, and preferred Cafe Fina.

                    Cafe Fina
                    47 Fishermans Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940

          2. re: steve h.
            Melanie Wong Aug 24, 2011 09:12 PM

            That says alot that you went back for a second round, thanks for the highlights. Sounds more together than expected this early in the game. I've added the links to some of the early publicity for 1833 Restaurant in the Restaurants and Bars page, if anyone's interested.

        2. d
          Dr. Edna Williams Aug 6, 2011 08:57 AM

          Hi Steve,

          For breakfast, lunch and picnic fare, and very reasonable prices, I highly recommend Carmel Belle, see the following new review.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Dr. Edna Williams
            steve h. Aug 6, 2011 10:16 AM

            Thanks Doctor,

            Car Week rapidly approaches.

          2. Beach Chick Jul 18, 2011 05:26 PM

            Love Passionfish..
            I'd add Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur for lunch..fab food and stunning views.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Beach Chick
              steve h. Jul 19, 2011 12:06 PM

              Looks good. Thanks for the tip.

            2. d
              Dr. Edna Williams Jul 18, 2011 04:00 PM

              I agree with the sous chef about Casanova. It is only two blocks from where I am now.

              You can't really go wrong with Casanova's menu, cuisine, desserts, or service, so two visits is certainly not overdoing it.

              Lunch, dinner or late afternoon dessert menus are all fantastic, as are the complimentary appetizers, e.g. sun dried tomato tapenade with flavorful herb bread sticks and olives.

              If you skip the alcohol, then you will actually be surprised at how reasonable the prices are - especially at lunch.

              The atmosphere is also really delightful as it is in an old house with various rooms, nooks and outdoor seating. The decor is colorful, yet not loud.

              Check out the back room where they have a table from Vincent Van Gogh, if only to take a peak.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dr. Edna Williams
                steve h. Jul 19, 2011 12:09 PM

                Thanks, doctor.

              2. souschef Jul 18, 2011 03:48 PM

                Check out this thread too:

                And here's my trip report from two visits to the area last year:

                1 Reply
                1. re: souschef
                  steve h. Jul 18, 2011 03:58 PM

                  That's one hell of a trip report.

                2. m
                  MRMoggie Jul 18, 2011 02:08 PM

                  You didn't mention breakfast, but Kate's on Mission between 5th and 6th is outstanding -- eggs cooked precisely the way I wanted (scrambled soft) for the first time since the demise of the olde Tuck Box.

                  Dametra on Ocean in Carmel is good and fairly priced for Carmel, but definitely make a reservation. We figured it wouldn't be necessary on a Monday night -- we were wrong.

                  Outstanding sushi at Akaoni on Mission near 6th. Impeccably fresh local Blue Fin (I was surprised to find it) that was superior to the just-off-the-boat ahi we get in Hawai'i. Fresh local salmon was delicious, as were panko coated pan fried local calamari. Contrary to posts on another food board the service was reserved but friendly and efficient. Sushi chef isn't chatty, but that doesn't make them aloof. Highly recommended.

                  PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

                  Dametra Cafe
                  Ocean Ave, Carmel, CA 93923

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: MRMoggie
                    steve h. Jul 18, 2011 02:21 PM

                    Love sushi. How's the rice?

                    1. re: steve h.
                      Dr. Edna Williams Jul 18, 2011 02:48 PM

                      Personally, I love Hanagasa near the Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is on 8th between Mission and San Carlos. Remember we have no street numbers in Carmel-by-the-Sea, but you can easily find the Sunset Center.

                      I lived in Asia for a while, so the whole California Roll and millions of mayonnaise-laden California variations are not typically what I am looking for.

                      Hanagasa is friendly, Asian-style and Asian owners with really great traditional dishes and attentive service. Yes, the rice is done just right, the miso soup is flavorful, the maguro / tuna is wonderful and the tempura is perfectly cooked. They serve a healthy plate of steamed veggies as well.

                      Sushi Heaven on Dolores is more party atmosphere, Californian and somewhat expensive in my opinion. I can't recall the details of the rice.

                      The other Carmel-by-the-Sea Sushi place has excellent quality but very inattentive service. It's called Akaoni. It has Asian staff, but they are so aloof that it doesn't make you feel too welcome. Perhaps they heard an ugly rumor that Carmel is supposed to be snobby. It is also very small. It is unique in that you can eat at a window seat. They'll ignore you, though, while you drink that tea that is everywhere in America....not in Asia, though...

                      Believe it or not, good restaurants in Asia have excellent service: a sort of - make you feel welcome, cater to you but not get in your face....

                      The coast of California, especially Santa Cruz, or Insanity Cruise as I often call it, is, umm, well, the opposite. Ya know - causal, condescending and full of attitude. Who needs that? You can turn on the television for that!

                      For gracious, simple sushi and wonderful rice, check out Hanagasa.

                      If you want some excellent Chinese inspired food, head into the courtyard where Tommy's Wok is. They have great food and good prices too!

                      Another Ca

                      PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

                      Tommy's Wok
                      , Carmel, CA 93923

                      1. re: Dr. Edna Williams
                        steve h. Jul 18, 2011 03:15 PM

                        Deb and I lived in Asia, courtesy of my uncle, for three years. My pivot foot was Seoul but I travelled a bit on business. Japan was important so I spent time there, too. Sushi rice, good sushi rice, is a thing of beauty.

                        1. re: steve h.
                          Dr. Edna Williams Jul 18, 2011 03:40 PM

                          Yes, I agree. I had some decent tataki in Seattle recently, but the rice was absolutely horrible. I wondered if it were genetically modified or just very poor quality.

                          I generally just like a good bowl of rice with excellent sashimi, so it is the quality that matters.

                          What California has done to "sushi" is somewhat comical, but, then, that is another tale....

                          Check out Basil on San Carlos between Ocean and 7th in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Chef Michele Cremonese from Verona Italy is fabulous - he studied Japanese cuisine in LA after he was trained in Italy. He brings fusion food to a new level. It is a small place with a selective menu emphasizing fresh, local and organic produce as well as fresh wild and sustainable seafood. My friend had duck breast with kumquat sauce at Basil. It was fabulous.

                          Another fresh, flavorful eatery in Carmel-by-the-Sea is St. Tropez. They have a roasted chicken herb dinner that you can order ahead of time, along with a great selection of French Coastal Cuisine, as the name implies. They offer a hefty portion of olives and hummus, or other appetizer, when you arrive and they have excellent service.

                          If you do head to Nepenthe for dinner, then order the Chicken Dinner. It has the feel of a thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The locals all know that it is the only meal there worth the price. We go for the view. They have an appetizer menu that has added something to the food offerings, but it is the view....

                          Regarding Akaoni's service: it is more or less well known amongst the locals for it's coldness although the fish is fresh.

                          The comment about the tea has nothing to do with Cherry Coke, just an attitude that they set the tea there - whether you want it or not.

                          Tea is not meant to be plopped down like ice water: Neither of these are good for digestion with meals, but that is another tale....

                          I would love to hear what you found most worthwhile during your visit.

                          PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

                          1. re: Dr. Edna Williams
                            steve h. Jul 18, 2011 03:55 PM

                            Nepenthe is a tourist zoo. Still, drinks just before sunset on the deck are hard to beat. I like the drive there.

                            I'll report back.

                            1. re: steve h.
                              souschef Jul 18, 2011 04:19 PM

                              The store at Nepenthe has some interesting finds when it comes to local music, as does the store next to the Big Sur River Inn (which has some nice stuff for lunch). The store also has some good artwork.

                              Big Sur River Inn
                              46840 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

                              1. re: souschef
                                steve h. Jul 18, 2011 04:39 PM

                                The best kept secret in that part of Big Sur is Pfeiffer Beach. Loading up a picnic basket (beer and wine included) and spending the day is as close to Paradise as it gets.

                                Nepenthe gets my vote for views. Nothing more.

                                1. re: steve h.
                                  souschef Jul 18, 2011 05:14 PM

                                  "Nepenthe gets my vote for views. Nothing more."
                                  I agree completely.

                                  For a view AND food, go to the casual restaurant on the terrace at the Highlands Inn and order the bouillabaisse (or is it cioppino?). I've had nice desserts there too, but can't remember what they were. An absolute must is a glass of bubbly.

                      2. re: steve h.
                        MRMoggie Jul 18, 2011 03:17 PM

                        Rice at Akaoni was excellent, the Japanese chef carefully pressed it hand to hand to warm it slightly, and the fish-to-rice ratio was spot on, i.e. generous.

                        I see another remark on this board that the service at Akaoni was aloof. I haven't traveled to Japan, and I don't speak Japanese, so I have no clue if they were whispering about us Gaijin behind our backs. But our Japanese waitress was prompt and responsive, carefully answering our questions, and laughed at her own difficulties opening a bottle of sparkling wine we brought.

                        The Japanese chef was quiet, but he was busy. He nodded to us and asked us to come back when we left.

                        I'm not sure what people expect in a restaurant, but I don't anticipate making new best friends every time I sit down.

                        I'm uncertain what the issue is with people drinking tea, if that's your beverage of choice. I didn't see any cherry Cokes.

                        Anyway, if goofing with the staff isn't your priority, but pristine local fish is, I can highly recommend Akaoni. On the other food board, locals recommended this place and out of towners (such as ourselves) complained it was cold and the local patrons glared at them. Go figure.

                        Wish we were joining you for all the automotive festivities. I'm told by a fellow car nut (I have a vintage sports car, see my screen name) who lives in Carmel to grab some coffee and something to eat early in the AM and set up some chairs on the route taken by the concourse cars, and sit back and enjoy the show. They get added points for making the 60 mile drive so many participate.

                        PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

                        1. re: MRMoggie
                          steve h. Jul 18, 2011 03:36 PM

                          Howdy Moggie,

                          Sushi is all about the fish and the rice, nothing more, nothing less. The good stuff is worth seeking out.

                          Morgans are a hoot. Still manufactured, still beautiful. Lime Rock Park back here in Connecticut has a fantastic Labor Day weekend event that attracts Moggies from near and far. Deb likes the +4.

                          Kicking back and watching the parade is very cool.

                          1. re: steve h.
                            MRMoggie Jul 18, 2011 05:49 PM

                            BTW, Passionfish is terrific, as is the wine list.

                            Just had lunch at Nepenthe, it's a regular stop on the annual drive down Highway One to the West Coast Morgan gathering in Cambria. The burger gets skimpier and more dry by the year, but the view is lovely and it's a good spot to take a break.

                            The screen name is from a Plus 4 four seater, BRG of course.

                            701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

                            1. re: MRMoggie
                              steve h. Jul 18, 2011 05:53 PM


                              1. re: MRMoggie
                                PolarBear Jul 18, 2011 06:00 PM

                                We've found the french fries and a couple of glasses of wine are the best way to go. (That would be no more than 1 glass/person, at least for the driver).

                      3. d
                        Dr. Edna Williams Jul 17, 2011 08:56 PM

                        There are many fine and fresh choices in the Monterey Area for lunch and dinner.

                        Mundaka is only open for dinner. Arriving early and lingering over a variety of dishes is the best bet:


                        Mundaka is one of a number of eateries in the area connected with the local winery and creative culinary family Georis.

                        Casanova for dinner or lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Corkscrew Cafe in Carmel Valley are also great choices and both are connected with the Georis clan.

                        The latest addition that serves wine from the Georis winery is La Bicyclette on the northwest corner of 7th and Dolores in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

                        Well-established for it's cozy dinners, La Bicyclette now serves pizzas in the evening and offers a creative fresh menu for lunch and breakfast too:


                        If you want to try the newest European Bistro in Carmel-by-the-Sea, check out the Carmel Food Company for lunch or dinner and outdoor seating on Junipero between 5th and 6th.

                        The Big Sur Bakery now serves up fine lunches and dinners.

                        South of Big Sur, Nepenthe is worthwhile for the view alone. The appetizers at Nepenthe or the mid-level Cafe Kevah are the best value and offer the more creative cuisine.

                        If you happen to go via Santa Cruz, check out the River Cafe on River Street, just off of highway one for breakfast, lunch or -just added- dinners and happy hour on the deck on Thursday and Friday only. They use the freshest ingredients, support local farms and have local wines too. They have great fish tacos for dinner and wonderful grass fed beef burgers for lunch or dinner.


                        Demetra Cafe is often packed, so it is not the most private place for dinner. Expect to be serenaded somewhere along the line, when the owner and the cook put on their nightly show. The menu is varied, emphasizing Greek and Middle Eastern food.

                        Basil on San Carlos Avenue serves what is called Modern California Mediterranean Cuisine, expertly prepared by Chef Michele Cremonese from Verona, Italy - a classically trained Italian Chef who has also studied Japanese cuisine.



                        Big Sur Bakery
                        47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

                        Cafe Kevah
                        Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA 93920

                        La Bicyclette
                        7th Avenue Dolores, Carmel, CA 93923

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Dr. Edna Williams
                          steve h. Jul 18, 2011 09:27 AM


                        2. g
                          Gail Jul 16, 2011 04:39 PM

                          California Market, Highlands Inn (lunch only)
                          Corkscrew Bistro: Carmel Valley
                          Rustica: Carmel Valley
                          Nepenthe: Big Sur (lunch due to drive)
                          Dametra: Carmel
                          Mission Ranch: Dinner or Sunday brunch (no res) Carmel
                          Sandbar: Monterey Municipal Pier (think fish shack)

                          California Market Restaurant
                          120 Highland Dr, Carmel, CA

                          Mission Ranch Restaurant
                          26270 Dolores St, Carmel, CA 93923

                          Dametra Cafe
                          Ocean Ave, Carmel, CA 93923

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Gail
                            steve h. Jul 16, 2011 05:00 PM

                            Thanks, Gail.

                            1. re: steve h.
                              Gail Jul 16, 2011 05:34 PM

                              I'm leaving tomorrow for a week in Carmel. If I find something new and wonderful, I'll post back.

                          2. g
                            glbtrtr Jul 16, 2011 12:50 PM

                            We went to Mundaka, a great tapas restaurant in Carmel recommended on another Chowhound thread recently that was worth a drive from Monterey. Plus later learned that The Sardine Factory might have been a worthy choice which we rejected by sight as it looked too touristy to us, but after looking at its website and some reviews here, we were sorry we turned it down and unfortunately in favor of a pretty dreary choice on the wharf, which we had been already warned to avoid as clearly a tourist oriented place for any dining choices, but we were being tourists so sometimes we just make those tourist choices against even our own better judgement.

                            Sardine Factory
                            701 Wave Street, Monterey, CA 93940

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: glbtrtr
                              steve h. Jul 16, 2011 04:27 PM

                              Tapas are always a welcome idea. Sardine Factory is an old (last century) favorite. I have no idea how the shop is doing these days.

                              Sardine Factory
                              701 Wave Street, Monterey, CA 93940

                              1. re: steve h.
                                glbtrtr Jul 16, 2011 05:17 PM

                                Very nice Sangria at Mundaka - made with apples which made for a very fresh flavor - I guess I usually think of this as more citrus. It is small and became very busy, so plan accordingly. We were able to drop in but just a little bit later this would not have been possible as the prior reservations tables started filling up - nice, happy buzz to the place.

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