Two years ago I had a wonderful lunch at Fifis on Forest in Pacific Grove above New Monterey. I had a salad with baby shrimp and avocado and paired that with some incredibly good French onion soup. Since then, I've wanted to try Fifi's once for dinner. Neither Steve nor Helen had ever eaten at Fifi's so they were game. When we arrived at 6:45 on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was already largely full. The only unusual thing about the patrons on this evening was that they seemed older, on average, than me - and I'm getting to be a pretty old dude. The last time I can remember being younger than the average customer at a restaurant was a couple of years ago when my cousin and her husband took me out to the Elks Club. Of course, there I was the youngest customer in the entire restaurant.
In a way, the clientele at Fifi's reflects the menu. Many of the dishes are traditional French bistro items. The wine list, while having some California wines, specializes in French wines. In fact, we chose a 1998 Bordeaux from St Estephe that was reasonably priced at $38. As soon as we selected the nice wine, the stemware that was on the table was replaced by a set of Riedels.
As soon as we were seated, we were provided with a baguette of very flavorful French bread and butter. All the entrées listed on the menu were priced at under $20, and one could add a side salad for $2.95, an option we all took advantage of. After having some incredible salads over the course of my visit, I found this one fairly small and rather ordinary with a few slices of red onion and one slice of tomato. We shared a cup of the French onion soup, and it was every bit as savory and flavorful as I remembered. Topped with melted cheese and full of French bread and onions, the soup was outstanding. I ordered the duck in huckleberry sauce which came with some vegetables including a couple baby potatoes and two asparagus spears. The vegetables were alright, I guess, but didn't seem to have much pizzazz. The half of a duck was largely deboned, competently prepared, and well matched to the berry flavored huckleberry sauce. Helen had the steak frites - your basic steak and french fry plate. It looked okay, but the french fry that I stole off her plate was not exceptional. Steve chose a chicken curry which he pronounced very good.
The only odd note, and I hate even to mention a dish that I did not see nor try, was one of their specials that evening, blackened ahi in a cream sauce. Huh? Maybe it's just me, but that's a dish I have trouble imagining.
The ambience in the restaurant was fine, and the service was professional. The headwaiter, who took our orders, projected some personality and had a sense of humor, telling each table with a chuckle that the venison special that evening was a local product. All in all, however, the Fifi's experience was one of staid competence rather than culinary excitement.