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Monterey Eating, Part I: Tico’s in Marina, and a Passionfish Update


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Monterey Eating, Part I: Tico’s in Marina, and a Passionfish Update

susancinsf | Aug 6, 2007 02:17 PM

I had originally planned to put my report on weekend dining in Monterey into one loonngg report, but the way my work week was going I knew if I did I’d never get it done…so will break it into parts..

Up first: Passionfish. We ate there Friday night for the umpteenth time. As my profile indicates, I am a big fan, so won’t belabor the love too much, but wanted to add a few comments. We had:

Mussels in a spicy tomato/cilantro broth: these were a special appetizer; I’ve enjoyed them before, ordered them again, as good as ever. Very spicy. When PF says something has a kick, believe them.

Greek salad: this was a new one to us, and hubby’s face broke into a BIIGG smile when the server informed him that the Greek salad had no lettuce: apparently some customers had complained about that, but hubby, who has traveled fairly extensively in Greece and claims he never even saw lettuce served there, feels that lettuce shouldn’t be part of a Greek salad. The salad did have deep fried olives, which I am not sure are authentically Greek either, but hubby seemed to really like those. :-). In any event, he polished it off and was very happy; commented that he wished he could make a dressing as balanced as the one on the salad.

For mains I ordered halibut, a special, and hubby had salmon. I thought the salmon was somewhat overcooked (more medium than the advertised medium rare), but the halibut was excellent, grilled and served with a red pepper sauce and sautéed greens.

The highlight however, was dessert: when I heard there was peach cobbler (served warm with vanilla ice cream) on the menu, I had to order it. I love peach cobbler. It was great. Actually, it was outstanding. But it wasn’t the best dessert on the menu: thank goodness hubby ordered the raspberries, served with a reduced cabernet sauce over vanilla ice cream, rather than just agreeing to share the cobbler as I had suggested. These were some of the best raspberries I’ve ever had. Good enough that I just had to ask their source for raspberries: and was told it is Vasquez Farms in Moss Landing. This farm would be well worth checking out…I was also told that their golden raspberries are wonderful.

Couldn’t find a website for Vasquez Farms, but a quick Google reveals that they are at the San Jose Downtown Farmer’s Market.

I looked for them at the Salinas FM on Saturday (more on that in Report #2), but they weren’t there. Anyone know where I might find them in the bay area?

Anyway, back to dinner: our total bill with tax but before tip for a half bottle of Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, two apps, two mains, two desserts, and a coffee, was $97. Passionfish remains a great value in my book.

After that dinner, we had to sleep in a bit, so it was about nine-thirty by the time we got to Tico’s in Marina for breakfast, following a lead Ed Dibble had given us in the thread below;

Tico’s was fairly busy, thanks to one large family group that was finishing their breakfast as we arrived, but we were seated promptly at a comfortable table, big enough to spread out the paper. There are a few tables outside, but there isn’t any type of a view, and in any case it was too foggy and cold for outdoor dining on Saturday am.

Over good coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice that was quickly brought to us, we settled in to read the menu. And what a menu: there is a regular menu, a written weekend specials menu, AND a white board menu, and everything sounded great! White board specials included an Italian sausage omelet; a scramble with spinach and baby artichoke hearts; apple pancakes; a provolone, mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil pizza…and the written specials included a sweet corn omelet, fresh mango pancakes…I mean, how does anyone choose? Then there was a separate board for desserts, including a blueberry buckle; berries with crème anglaise; and a lemon tart….

Well, I was on a mission for huevos rancheros, and they are on the regular menu, so for me the choice was easy. Sort of. Since I am somewhat fussy about my huevos, and a bit of a purist, first I verified: corn tortillas (not flour)? Check. Eggs Over easy (never scrambled)? Check. Ok, I will have the huevos rancheros. However, I forgot to ask if the eggs included a layer of beans (as opposed to beans on the side). They sometimes do come this way (in Mexico and here in the US) but I am not a fan of that style of preparation.

Well, I am very glad I forgot to ask about the beans, because they did come with a layer of beans on top of the fresh, tasty tortillas, and I probably would have ordered something else had I known. The moment I tasted these huevos, I knew I had to re-think my stand on beans, because these were great huevos rancheros, Fantastic, actually. The whole beans were in a smoky brown sauce with bacon, probably epazote, and not sure what else, but they were absolutely delicious and made the dish, although the very fresh salsa and perfectly cooked eggs over easy didn’t hurt either. I was in heaven. I cleaned my plate, and only regretted not ordering a side of tortillas to get every last drop of sauce and salsa.

Hubby is a big eggs benedict fan, so with at least three versions of benedict on the menu he was also in heaven. He chose the crab cakes benedict from the written weekend specials menu, at $11.95 the most expensive item on the breakfast menu, and worth every penny. The hollandaise was rich and flavorful, the eggs were done perfectly, the crab cakes were great…and as Ed mentioned in his post, the dish came with wonderful freshly cooked potatoes.

Service was friendly and efficient: our coffee mugs and water glasses were kept full. Total with tax but before tip was around $25, but then hubby did order from the very upper price end of the menu. In general, prices are quite reasonable, especially for food of this quality.

Can I ding Tico’s on anything? Oh sure: the roses in the vases on each table were a touch wilted.

Any more dings?: can’t think of a one. All of our food was fresh, delicious, and made with obvious care by a kitchen that knows what it is doing. Tico’s gets my highest recommendation. I can’t wait to go back. Thanks again, for this tip, Ed.

Next up, in Report Part II (may take a day or two): the Salinas Farmer’s Market, La Fogata in Salinas, and Ambrosia in Monterey.

701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Tico's Breakfast & Lunch
330 Reservation Rd, Marina, CA 93933

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