Oh, you CA folks were great. You were right on the mark in all suggestions. When we fended for ourselves, we got skinned a couple of times.
Fancy places like Anton and Michel that coast on their reputation (?) and serve consistently lukewarm food, reheated off-tasting crab cakes, plain unmarinated Artichoke appetizers for $9 with ungarlicky sauce and unimaginative desserts need to be avoided. It's hard to ruin good lamb chops, but the crust wasn't highly seasoned, nor crisp. Was our awful experience there unusual?
As for the Great stuff: Bouchee exceeded expectations. Never would have found it by ourselves, and I thank you again. My "olive oil-poached Atlantic Salmon with Braised Castroville Martichokes, Blood Orange, Roasted Almonds and Albarino sauce, whatever that is, set a standard for salmon dishes.($19) Going to be hard to top. My companions ordered the Cauliflower soup, which was a hit, albeit a tad spicy for me, with maine sweet shrimp, thai basil, and singapore curry with tapioca pearls on the bottom of the soup bowl before the soup was poured in.
Best of all were the desserts. Mine, a Budino (Italian ricotta cheese pudding )with tangerine pieces, marscapone cheese sauce and tangerine sorbet was huge, a bargain at $6, and shared reluctantly with hubby and friend. This place is a winner. On Mission, between 6th and 7th.
Passionfish in Pacific Grove in the 700 block of Lighthouse was eclectic fun. I wound up ordering ribeye, with tempura style veggies--sweet potato strips, polenta. Tasty, crisp veggies; unusual. Oysters proved to be out of the shell, swimming with a bit of salad in an unusual soupy sauce. $5 for oysters; yummy good.
Fishwife in Pacific Grove was a big hit, and very reasonable for top quality fish. ((We paid far more on the wharf in Monterey for an awful lunch))
In Monterey, Stokes with its Tapas and other small plates was fun and different. Warm service; friendly place. No dish was outstanding, but I did like experimenting with small plates instead of larger entrees.