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Jan 6, 2014 09:22 AM

Carmel-Monterey High End Food and Wine

I am heading to Pebble Beach for a special birthday weekend with a group of five during the first week of February. For the birthday celebration, we have booked Marius at Bernardus Lodge and Winery and may opt to do a wine tasting before dinner. My question is: Are there any other wineries in the Carmel-Monterey area that offer dinner---perhaps in a wine cave setting or that offer a very special experience that we might consider? Great restaurant suggestions would also be greatly appreciated!

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  1. As far as restaurants, Aubergine at L'Auberge in Carmel is excellent and has a private cellar room downstairs.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PattyC

      Pacific's Edge, Roy's in Pebble Beach, Grasing's, Casanova and Little Napoli are all wonderful in this area. :)

      1. re: syrahgirl

        Sorry but roy's is kind of terrible, i would not put it in the same class as casanova (which is amazing)

        1. re: Ttrockwood

          All of the mainland Roys I've tried are kind of terrible.

    2. La Balena and Cantinetta Luca have outstanding Italian food-not your normal American Italian.

      1. No. Unlike napa area there are no other wineries with excellent restaurants.

        Marinus will be the best choice for the area. The sommelier is excellent and the bernardus wines are impressive. The service is flawless and the food is excellent- the kitchen has a talent for fish.
        The next day you can take a drive down the coast to big sur and if its a nice day eat on the patio of Ventana (indoors is lovely as well). They have a great brunch/lunch and make a wonderful bloody mary. I've been there with friends many times and lingered for a few hours never feeling rushed by the waitstaff.

        Are you staying at bernardus? If so they will pack you a wonderful picnic lunch if you decide to go hiking or to the beaches.
        While you are there talk to the concierge- they have a great map of the wineries and tasting rooms that are in carmel valley to spend the afternoon wine tasting- don't miss Talbot's winery.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ttrockwood

          Thanks so much to all for the very useful feedback! We are staying at the Inn at Spanish Bay and had already planned to drive to Big Sur and eat at Ventana. We need one more dinner reservation and would like it to be relaxed but still with a nice atmosphere. Trendy and lively is fine or more comfortable and refined would be great too----- as long as its not too casual. I was considering Italian, seafood, or even American/continental fare. Would La Balena, Il Vecchio, Passion Fish or 1833 be good choices?

          1. re: Debbie

            What do you consider too casual?

            1833 is about as hip and trendy as the Monterey Peninsula gets. I've only had dinner there once and wasn't crazy about the food but it's a favorite on this board. There are several different rooms and seating areas. There's one cozy private room with a fireplace that would also work for your party. I accidentally wandered in there while getting lost on my way back from the restroom.

            I personally love the food at La Balena. The indoor dining area is tiny. Some might consider it cramped. We like to sit in the heated back garden patio but weather could be iffy in Feb. Reserve early if you decide to have dinner here.

            Il Vecchio's dining area is one large room with a casual vibe. I've only been there for the weekday worker's lunch which was fine/OK. On Monday nights they serve a multi course set menu which I'd like to go back and try.

            I haven't been to Passion Fish.

            1. re: Debbie

              In addition to marinus,1833 and passion fish are excellent choices. Passion fish has an awesome wine list with unique selections too.

              Or, a very casual local favorite for seafood is monterey fish house- be sure to get the spot prawns if they have them. No reservations but the wait is never long and some great seafood friendly wines. They don't even have a website! Here's the yelp link with address:

              ETA: oops, mntry fish house is very causal....

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                We had a VERY mediocre meal at Monterey Fish House and will not return. Restaurant 1833, Montrio Bistro, Schooner's Coastal Kitchen @ The Monterey Plaza Hotel and The Sardine Factory are some favorites of ours in Monterey.

                A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely fireside dinner in The Captain's Room @ The Sardine Factory. Their Abalone Bisque is not to miss there. :)

                1. re: syrahgirl

                  I wondered whether The Sardine Factory would get mentioned in this thread. We had an outstanding meal there many years ago.

                  1. re: syrahgirl

                    Well to each their own, i've eaten at the fish house dozens of times and enjoyed those meals as a casual option.

            2. I would 2nd Passion Fish as it's very relaxed but nice, serves great seafood, and has an incredible wine list with amazingly fair prices.

              1. I'd throw L'Auberge, Carmel into the mix as well.

                2 Replies
                1. re: HoosierFoodie

                  +1! Great wine list as well.

                  If the OP goes to marinus (french influenced) they may not want another french style meal......

                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                    I haven't been to Marinus but Aubergine feels more Asian influenced to me.