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Jul 28, 2005 01:19 AM

Disappointing meal at Massaro and Santos, and the Breakwater Deli, but not Passionfish..(Monterey Peninsula).

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Met some friends in Monterey Sunday night for dinner. We were supposed to go to Passionfish, but one of the friends, who neither drinks nor eats either seafood or beef (she has always ordered chicken when we go out) asked if we could go elsewhere instead, 'just once'.

Hubby and I had had an outstanding dinner at Passionfish the night before(one of our best yet, could it be getting even better?) so I reluctantly agreed, and we went to Massaro and Santos. Sigh. I wish I had put my foot down....

Three of us had cream of spinach soup to start, hubby had spinach salad. The salad was just whole spinach leaves and a cut tomato, lightly dressed. Fine, but boring. The soup tasted commercial (although our non-Chowish friends enjoyed it).

Mains: the server read off a *huge* list of specials (there were at least 7), all without prices. So, of course we had to go back through the ones that interested us: in all cases the prices were half again as much as comparable regular menu offerings.

I debated getting sand dabs, and decided instead on scallops, in a 'light' cream sauce served over spaguetti. ($22) Probably a mistake: I am fairly sure the san dabs would have been better ( and they were $10 less). I've had good seafood pasta there before but this was a gloppy mess. Hubby had cioppino, which he pronounced ok, one friend had the same scallops (he sighed also). The picky member of our group had an Asian chicken salad with large pieces of fried chicken. I suspect she got the best dinner of all of us: it looked fresh and appetizing.

The three of us who drink wine shared a bottle of David Bruce Pinot Noir. Sorry I can't remember which vintage or location, but at $31 it was probably the best deal on the limited wine list.

After this disappointment, the previously attentive server just disappeared. For a *long* time. It took forever to get the bill.

I am going to have to take that one off of the list for a while....

And since we are talking about restaurants on the San Carlos pier, I have to hearby officially withdraw any previous endorsements of the Breakwater pier deli (downstairs below Massaros and Santos). The reports I'd been getting from the dive community regarding extremely rude service (there is actually a half -serious move afoot among some divers I know to start a picket line/boycott of the place) are well-founded. One of my dive buddies ordered two bbq pork sandwhiches and a can of soda, and the person behind the cash register tried to charge her $32! When friend protested that it appeared the calculation was off, she got a snarl in return and lots of muttering about how unreasonable she was being to even bother the cashier when she was busy....

Such is life.But to end on a high node: Passionfish, better than ever. The halibut I had there Saturday was steller.

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  1. Too bad about M & S. Their chowder is good and the sand dabs are good also, but I do hate the list of expensive "specials." I usually recommend it more for the view and as an alternative to Fishermans Wharf. Try Taste or the Red House next time you're looking for something different.


    1. Never heard of M&S, but I think I'll stay away based on your report. Not my kind of food, and doesn't sounds like your ideal either. Oh well, sometimes we need to make sacrifices. At least you got PF the night before!

      I wonder if Max's Grill in Pacific Grove would be a place that would please both you and your non-chowish friends should you be in a similar situation in the future? Food Tyrant posted on it recently so linked that for you below. The website is linked in my response. They do have a number of seafood dishes but also have meat and pasta options. Prices sound reasonable too. That thread also has some nearby recs for you to keep in mind, just in case you didn't know about them or had forgotten.


      4 Replies
      1. re: Carb Lover

        Fortunately, dinner with these friends is about a twice a year thing :-) and usually we meet in the bay area where there are a lot more options...

        I'd like to try Max's grill. Have to say, part of my disappointment is that I have enjoyed M and S in the past: had a wonderful pasta with spot prawns there on another visit...The other advantage to it is that it does have a water view, which matters to some people (not so much to me, though)

        1. re: Carb Lover

          I was at Max's recently. It was definitely OK, but I was not overwhelmed. Portabello mushroom soup very gray, but otherwise undistinguished. A standard mesclun salad with a hint of portobello in the dressing was interesting. For a main course, I had a blackened sea bass that seemed underflavored. I had eaten at Max's once before in the past and had a similar response - competent, but not especially creative or memorably good. In fact, I had forgotten about my meal there until I read your post. I have not yet posted about my meals at Red House and Taste, but both were memorable and more creative than anything I saw at Max's. Sorry that my posting about my visit has been so slow, but I had Internet access issues when I was up in Monterey.


          1. re: e.d.

            Would love to hear your take on Red House and Taste, e.d. The former was closed our last trip to PG and haven't been to the latter in quite a few years. Let is know which dishes are not to miss at both places. TIA

            PS to susancinsf: we've had similar experience at M&S, the safe bets are the chowder and sand dabs. My seafood pasta last trip was disappointing also.

            1. re: PolarBear

              I mention both Red House and Taste in my post about munching around Monterey. But I am far from an expert at Taste, where I have eaten about 5 times. And I'm a complete newbie at Red House.

              I also had a nice halibut dish once at M & S, but I confess that the complex and nuanced chowder is the real draw. Well and for tourists, the nice view.

        2. My wife and I live in PG...and Passionfish is by far our favorite place. We go to Passionfish often, and have always had a memorable experience. The food and wine is really great, and the staff knowledgable, friendly and well educated. If you believe in sustainable practices, organics, and good people, Passionfish is the place in PG!

          1. i agree, the breakwater pier deli is a real rude place. lucky for us, we can dive in a lot of places and they can only do business on the one corner.