This report is a result of returning after 5 years to a restaurant I had fond memories of and had recommended on this board in the past. Julio Ramirez is a great American success story. An immigrant from Central America, Julio started as a dish-washer, worked hard, saved money, started his own small seafood restaurant in Seaside CA, the poorest section of the Monterey peninsula. Soon locals were thronging there, buying lunches and dinners to eat in or to go. With this success, Julio opened The Fishwife in Pacific Grove near Asilomar Beach, a more upscale location and has done well there also. Then while I was living in the area he opened El Cocodrilo, one of my all time favorite placescombining innovative seafood preparations and his Central American background to create an excellent Caribbean restaurant which he eventually sold to open Turtle Bay Tacqueria in downtown Monterey.
Anyway, for years I have had warm memories of the friendly restaurants that he created, and I lovingly pictured in my head his wonderful salads that combined lettuce and veggies and were topped by fresh-cooked seafood (the fired calamari being my favorite). Well today I finally got back to The Fishwife and must admit I was disappointed. The clam chowder was not nearly as good as the seafood chowder that I had loved at El Cocodrilo. In fact, it was downright lousy. It seemed almost devoid of clams and flavor, tasting mostly of flour. The salad with calamari was still goodbut not as good as in my memory. The calamari seemed less crisp, the dressing less interesting. And the price ($9.50 I think) struck me as awfully high. In addition, both chowder and salad were served with what is called garlic bread, though any hint of garlic escaped me. And the bread is the same sandwich roll used for their sandwiches. In an area like Monterey, where one can purchase wonderful crunchy, European style breads, that is a real disappointment.
I still admire Julio Ramirez. I still have fond memories of the black bean soup at his first location and many wonderful dishes at El Cocodrilo. But, hounds, there are better places to eat in Monterey/Pacific Grove than the Fishwife. Sorry if any of my past postings have misled any of you. My bad.