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Portobello's Rotisseria and Cafe, Salinas

Melanie Wong | Dec 25, 200412:21 AM

Last month, we stopped here for a quick dinner. Even though it's close to my parents home, they'd not been here before. At night, a couple dinner specials with table service are offered in addition to the rotisserie chicken, salads, soups, pasta, and hot sandwiches on the lunch menu

My parents split a cheeseburger topped with gorgonzola. This came with a choice of bagged chips. Very fresh garnishes, carefully grilled and cooked medium, an especially good bun, and satisfactory all round, although my father felt there should be more cheese. Dad liked his peach smoothie too.

I had the half sandwich with cup of soup of the day. The butternut squash soup was rustic and savory, served with a few slices of good baguette. I'd picked the Cuban for my sandwich order. It had cheese, a slice of ham, and some outstanding garlicky roast pork loin. A really rich combo, and I wished it had the traditional slice of pickle and citrusy accents. Again, the bread was really good, although not Cuban bread. I'd order this again and not consider it a Cuban sandwich.

I had asked our server about wines by the glass and offered to walk over to the wine bar. Instead she sent over one of the wine staff to tell me what was available, which is more service than I expected from what is essentially a deli. He asked me if I wanted red or white, and I asked what local Pinots were available. That night both Hahn (disclaimer: the winemaker is a personal friend) and Chalone were open and I ordered a half glass of each for a side-by-side comparison. The Hahn was much riper, tending toward surmaturite with some plummy, pruney notes. More alcoholic, fat and dense in texture, it was more Syrah-like than Pinot-ish. The Chalone was lighter in body with more red fruit character and open-knit aromatics. It was more complex and longer in finish.

I asked our server about the bread supply and learned that they bake La Brea in-house. The bread on my sandwich was the rustica roll.

This isn't a destination by any means. But it's a nice spot to get a well-prepared light meal, hang out with a glass of wine or espresso, and make use of the free wi-fi. It's unique is this town.



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