Good restaurants in Monterey
I'm going to be in Monterey for a conference and need to wine and dine clients. Is there a specific cuisine that this region is known for? Any suggestions? I've made note of earlier recommendations like Tarpy's, Adobe Inn and Montrio. Thanks.
CARMEL, CARMEL VALLEY
Sans Souci -- This old world French establishment still reigns as our absolute favorite, and in our opinion the BEST and most romantic in the entire area. Scrumptious lamb (the house specialty) done to perfection, and the most awesome lobster bisque we've had anywhere, anytime! Incredible, knowledgeable (food and wine) very warm and friendly service -- not just polite, I mean truly friendly! Tried our first bottle of Talbot Diamond Reserve Chardonnay and it was unworldly delectable!
Robert's Bistro (formerly Kincaid's Bistro) in the Crossroads shopping center of Carmel Valley -- What an outstanding discovery for us! This place is wonderful! Incredibly friendly, dedicated, knowledgeable staff and outstanding food. The sautéed Holland Dover Sole (de-boned at your table side) was a delightful treat. Crab cake appetizer was great. Here we discovered Arrowood Chardonnay and it was tantalizing to the pallet. Kincaid really knows how to soufflé! The Grand Marnier soufflé was so light, so incredibly tasty, I cannot adequately describe it. And talk about customer orientation I was in the men's room when the soufflé first arrived, and they insisted on feeding it to the cat and making me a new one. This will become a favorite place! When we left, we spotted this lazy cat with the silliest of grins on her face!
Casanova -- Did lunch this time. The Mediterranean "Casserole" was outstanding. (It's a saffron broth bouillabaisse, folks and it was light and wonderful.) Service was very attentive and friendly. The manager came around repeatedly, to each and every table, to make sure everyone was satisfied.
Café Napoli -- Always have done lunch here, as we did again this time. Great Italian cuisine and good service. Their shrimp, fish, shellfish pastas continue to please by being light but extremely tasty.
Porta Bella -- Also, have only had lunch here, and again this time. Been really pleased every time, including this one. The saffron broth seafood linguini is just outstanding as is the shrimp Provençale. Really friendly staff and the gray-haired French cook is helpful and humorous.
Village Corner Bistro -- First time there, and we did lunch only. The Monterey Bay Sandab sandwich with a lemon remoulade sauce was really, I mean REALLY good! Fresh grilled tuna salad was also very nice. We will return again and again as long as this continues to be the kind of experience we have.
Anton et Michel -- Our first time there, and it will be our last. With all the hype this place gets, we were expecting something special. The service was polite but pushy (to the extent of being over-attentive and giving us the feeling of being pressured to either eat faster or order more). My pheasant was overdone and dry. Sandy's (my wife) pork tenderloin medallions were tasty but there were three (yes 3) little 1½" diameter, 3/8" thick pieces for $25!!! And my lobster appetizer was also a sham: three tiny undercooked morsels set along the periphery of a virtually tasteless cabbage/veggie mixture. Way overpriced, and not even in the same universe as Sans Souci or Robert's Bistro.
Tarpy's Roadhouse (Hwy 68 to Salinas, about a mile past the airport) -- A really good first experience. The food was excellent and the portions were HUGE! The seared Ahi atop a sautéed mash potato patty was great. Service was attentive and friendly. Only issue we had was that they sat us right in the traffic way, practically at the main entrance. For romance, next time we'll ask for one of the smaller rooms. We'd go back.
Old Bath House -- Again a wonderful experience. Such friendly, knowledgeable staff! The sommelier is so cool. The guy really enjoys what he does and he knows a BUNCH about wine (pun intended). Everything on the menu is just extraordinary, especially the chocolate brandy soufflé. And this nite, I had Abalone sautéed in a lemon, butter, garlic sauce. It was my first taste of this delicacy, and it was so enjoyable, I will probably try it every time I come across it in a great restaurant. We'll keep going back to The Old Bath House every chance we get.
Fandango -- Lunch and dinner. Our first experiences here, and we'll keep going back. What a really nice place. French, Italian, and Spanish food done extraordinarily well! The sautéed Tapia was delicious, as was their Scampi Primavera. Crème Carmel was a nice ending. And wow the attentive service! When we made the reservation, I put it under our last name, which is French, and we use the French pronunciation. Upon arrival, when we told the host who we were, he and our waiter snapped into action the way we experienced real French staff do with real Parisians in the good Paris restaurants in which we ate a couple of years ago. The guys started speaking French to us and when I answered in French they just went nuts! Oh, there was nothing to want for, from that point on. What a place! And if you go there, ask to be seated in one of the smaller rooms. We found it to be quite romantic.
My personal experience in Monterey isn't current. But I'll pass on my friend's extreme disappointment at Bernardus Inn. A dream weekend that was not inexpensive at this resort was ruined by terrible restaurant service. She's sufficiently upset to write a letter to the General Manager.
re: Melanie Wong
Did your friend say anything about the quality of the food? I had some terrific meals at Pacific's Edge when Cal Stamenov was the chef there, and when I heard that Marinus, the dining room at the Bernardus Lodge, had hired him, I thought it had scored a real coup. Poor service can ruin a meal despite outstanding food, but I'm curious if Chef Stamenov is producing the same high quality, interesting dishes that he produced at Pacific's Edge.
re: Tom Armitage
I located her original e-mail, and no mention of the quality of the food. However, she does say that this fiasco at Bernardus set them back $180 for dinner for 2, $150 for one bottle of wine, and $500+ for the room. I'd be screaming mad if service was not only less than professional but rude too.
re: Melanie Wong