Restaurants & Bars 6

Carmel Trip Synopsis (VERY long!)

Funwithfood | Jul 4, 200503:41 PM

Carmel Trip Synopsis

We rented a small cottage in Carmel, which was actually cheaper than a hotel there. It was nice having a kitchen to warm-up leftovers too!

Because we have small children, we did not go to nice restaurants at night, just for lunch. (I don’t feel it is fair for other diners to even have to look at a high chair when they are spending $200+ for dinner!) We also did take-out a few times, and ate at the cottage.

Santa Barbara

On the trip up from OC, we stopped in SB at Beach Break Café. We had a delicious, homey breakfast. Great rec--we will return.

Paso Robles

Panolivo (1344 Park Street)
We only had pastries. They were okay, but nothing to write home about.

We stopped at many wineries both on the trip up and down from OC.

Castoro Cellars: Beautiful grounds! Only the 2003 Pinot Noir (elegant) and the non-alcoholic Zin (for the kids) appealed to us.

Opolo: Great Roussane—wow! The 2003 Zinfandel was excellent too.

Summerwood: Great wines, but overpriced IOO. We purchased the 2001 Cab.

Rotta: Tasting room temporarily located in the Cider Creek Bakery off Hwy 46 An interesting 2002 Dessert Sherry, and a good 2003 Estate Zinfandel.
(The bakery had unusual and tasty jams and preserves. The caramel apple pie was pretty good too.)

Norman’s: Did not like it as much as I used to, maybe my “buds” changed. I only liked their 2002 Merlot and Zinfandel Port this time.

Vista Del Rey: A very nice couple own and produce their own wines at this small vineyard. The 2004 Pinot Blanc, and 2002 Zinfandel were very good. The 2002 Barbera was pretty good too.


Adrian’s Gourmet Kitchen (26135 Carmel Rancho Road): (Was featured in Gourmet or Bon Appetit this month.) They are only open until 6 pm.

Here’s what we tried…
Vegetable Beef Soup: Flavorless
Polenta-Parmesan “Cookies”: Fabulous!
Dill-Shrimp Salad: Fresh, flavorful, delicious
Greek Salad: Excellent
Chocolate Ganache Cake: Perfection!
Date Bar: Too “oatmealy” for me, a lot of dates in it though.

Roy’s (off 17 Mile Drive)
We had lunch. Beautiful view, beautiful hotel!
Even more Asian-themed entrees then when we were there last, which is great if that is your thing (not really ours though). Waiter was kind of annoying and a little pushy, which is in contrast to our wonderful service on previous occasions.

Here’s what we had…
Lobster Bisque: Okay, nothing special (mine is better!)
Seabass Encrusted with Crab: Very well prepared, tasty
Butterfish was excellent
Chocolate Lava Cakes: Overcooked, not much lava!
Overall: Good, but not as good as I remember. The view and grounds however are just wonderful. We always take a walk down to the ocean after our meal—best part!

Pebble Beach Lodge (off 17 Mile Drive)
Stillwater Café: We had lunch. The most incredible view imaginable! This is heaven on earth. We love to walk the grounds here--I love this place.

Here’s what we had…
Clam Chowder: $12.50 for the bowl! Tasty, but the large clams were chewy and not very flavorful.
Fish & Chips: Made with grouper—one of the tastiest dishes of our trip ($13 I think).
Lobster Salad Sandwich: Okay, but nothing to write home about ($19)

***Note: Don’t forget to present your receipt for entrance into 17 mile drive ($8.50), as they refund your money when you eat at the restaurants there.

Rio Grill (101 Crossroads Blvd.)
Always great food here. (I wish there was a Rio Grill in OC!)

Here’s what we had…
Fire-Roasted Artichoke with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli. Has been on the menu forever—for good reason, it is very tasty.
Grilled Heart of Romaine with Herbed Goat Cheese: I loved this!
Balsamic-Chile Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Onion Chipotle Marinade served with Green Chile Polenta topped with Fried Onions: Excellent. Probably the best dish of the whole trip—tender and a great combination of flavors.
Kids Quesadillas: $6 for a tiny quesadilla (with no drink incl). Cost us $10 per kid with drinks & refills!
Chocolate Torte with Malt Ball Ice Cream: Average at best.

California Market at the Highland’s Inn
Nice view, warm & friendly service. Wine list was too pricey. I will stick with the more moderately priced food items here next time, as the food was a little disappointing.

*Make sure to have a drink in the lounge at sunset—spectacular!

Here’s what we had…
Artichoke Soup: Oustanding!
Beef Tenderloin: Small, okay but not wonderful ($28)
Salmon: Tasty ($25)
Dessert: Chocolate something or other—very good.


Point Lobos:
Thanks for recommending this “park”. We have gone to Carmel at least a dozen times and had never been! It really is a beautiful place to take a walk.

Barnyard Farmer’s Market:
Tuesday mornings. A worthwhile visit!

Earthbound Organic Farm (Carmel Valley):
What a joke--$5.19 per pound for peaches, and $3.75 per pint of strawberries! (How does this place survive?)

Carmel Wineries:

Joullian: Fantastic wines. We liked most everything. We purchased their 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 Syrah, 2002 Zinfandel, and 2003 Chardonnay, and a Merlot.

Bernardus: Pretty tasty. (A few wines were half price and pretty good, which was nice!) Great 2003 Sauvignon Blanc.

Monterey/Pacific Grove

Fifi’s: (Across the street from Taste) Really pretty/elegant décor, with white tablecloths and red velvet drapes. The owners are very nice. Fortunately they are in the process of getting A/C (very hot & stuffy inside.)

We just ordered two soups to go, which were outstanding! (Seafood Chowder and French Onion). I will definitely return! They have Early Bird Dinner Specials which sound great—I’d love to try their Boeuf Bourguignon.

Taste: (1199 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove)The outside gives no indication of how pretty the interior is. We just got Roasted Red Bell Pepper soup to go. It was pretty good--I look forward to trying other things.

Little Chicken House: (1193 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove) This place has a drive through, but it isn’t cheap. The ribs were great, the chicken moist but not very flavorful (rotisserie only), but the brisket was fantastic. The side dishes were nothing to write home about; the mashed potatoes were watery, and the baked beans tasted like they were out of a can.

Toasties: The biggest disappointment of the trip, by far! Disinterested/confused service. The manager (or owner) bickering with the waitresses in full view was just lovely--a complete waste of $30. I had a terrible omelette and the ham & eggs were not good; tough, overcooked, flavorless eggs. They have no idea how to cook eggs here. The pancakes were good, which was little concelation.

Gianni’s Pizza: (725 Lighthouse Avenue, Monterey) I didn’t have the pizza, but it was rated an “8” by those who did. I had the antipasto salad, which was fine. What was NOT fine was the “Italian” dressing was a package of “Rod’s Low Calorie Italian Dressing”. No respecting Italian restaurant should be serving this crap with their Antipasto Salad!

Paris Bakery: (271 Bonifacio Plaza, Monterey) Great pastries. I love their almond croissants. They are kind of heavy because they have loads of almond paste in them. I like them anyway! The chocolate ganache cake was fantastic! Everything else we had was good too.

Fish Hopper: Within walking distance from the Aquarium. It’s a “tourist place”, but the food is always good and everyone is always starving so it’s nice to just walk over.

Santa Cruz

The Buttery: (702 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz) This was our favorite bakery of the trip. The almond croissant was really good, as was the macadamia chocolate chip cookie (5 stars!), and the pumpkin and peanut butter ccokies (some pastries are yet untried in the freezer!). The ham & cheese croissant was 10x better than any I have ever had. The sandwiches were really good also. The soup was just okay.

(I really wanted to go to Kelly’s and Donnelly’s Chocolates, but we ran out of time!)


Henry Cowell Redwoods:
I always love walking through the redwoods at the Redwood Grove Nature Trail (near Felton). It is so peaceful and lovely there. We are usually there off-season, so the Roaring Camp (adjacent) is not open. This time it was open and although it is a total “tourist trap”, next time I would like to take the train ride on the Steam Train (real) that goes through the redwoods (1 hrs 15 mins). There is also a trip from to the Boardwalk and back (3 hrs roundtrip). It costs about $20 for adults and $12 for kids.

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