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2 weeks SF Bay Area to LA and back: 28 meals worth! (Pt 1/2)

tre2012 | Jun 7, 201503:45 PM

We finished our two week driving trip down to Southern CA, where we wound our way down in (relatively) leisurely manner to visit family. This allowed us to take 2-3 days for each stop. Six hotels and we only lost two small items, which is an indicator of success, LOL.

Our first stop was in Monterey, on to Cambria/Hearst's Castle, then Santa Barbara, arriving after a week in Burbank/Glendale where my brother lives. One long weekend and some great eating later, we began the drive home. We stopped in Paso Robles for the first time. A 2nd visit to Monterey/Carmel was our last stop before coming home.

14 days = 28 total lunches and dinners. I chose to summarize them in separate postings. The Glendale/Burbank restaurants are posted to the LA forum.

Monterey #1:
Passionfish - Great food from a talented, creative chef. Every year Ted Walters gets better and better. Complex flavors in perfect balance - if you only have time for one dinner in this area, make it here. This chef is brilliant, and keeps getting better every time we come, a rarity.

Bouchee - We always love Bouchee. Chef Zagouri is improving; less sauce on the plate with the same deft touch for seasoning. Great service, lovely dining room. Similar to La Folie in style but more casual.

Grasings - Former chef at 231 Ellsworth/SMateo prefers to live down here and who can blame him? A large casual, American-style menu, but well-executed. Not great, but very good. We'd pick this for lunch over Forge, La Balena, St. Tropez or Le Bicyclette. A good lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea is harder to find than you might think.

Fifi's - A new dinner cook seems to have also rejuvenated the lunch cook. Lunch was so good, we canceled our reservation that evening at a different restaurant to come back here for dinner. And THAT was so good, we canceled our last lunch elsewhere and came back for the third time in two days, to make this our final lunch before driving south. We've enjoyed Fifi's before, but these meals were a whole level higher. Spouse was in heaven!

Black Cat Bistro - The pick of what we tried in Cambria. That's not saying much. This is not a foodie town by any stretch of the imagination. But in a direct comparison with Madeline's Bistro & Wine Shop, with two almost identical dishes, Black Cat won handily.

Main St. Grill - Cafeteria style, despite the name. It's a sports bar, and you bus your own tables. But they had beef ribs, and Spouse adores beef ribs which are almost impossible to find in the Bay Area. They weren't half bad, either, and even the baked beans were better than most. Quick and cheap; this is 'paper napkins from a dispenser' territory all the way.

Madeline's Restaurant and Wine Shop - As mentioned above, a disappointment. Their ambitions exceed their grasp, although maybe we ordered the wrong dishes. But we liked Black Cat a whole lot more - more charming, more relaxed, tastier food.

~ Part 2 posted separately in this forum: Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey #2 ~
~ Glendale/Burbank restaurants posted to LA forum ~

La Balena,
La Bicyclette Restaurant
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