We made the long drive down from Healdsburg to Monterey Bay in about 4 hours, 1 hour longer than it should have taken, due to some Friday rush hour traffic around the Bay Area. We made it in time to check into our hotel, the Deer Haven Inn and then in time for our dinner reservation at Passionfish. All the hotels in the area were fully booked or charging exorbitant rates (like $500 for a Best Western) due to the U.S. Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach. We lucked out with the Deer Haven Inn, as the location was convenient and the price was reasonable, even if the accomodations were a little shabby. At least there were deer in the vicinity as the name suggests.
Passionfish which has to be one of my favorite restaurants ever (Thanks Michael for the suggestion!).
Le Bernandin in New York for seafood, which is often cited as the best fine dining seafood restaurant in the country. We visited Passionfish last year and were so blown away that we knew we had to plan our trip around another visit this year. They make seafood exciting, with big, bold flavors, and moreover are committed to only serving sustainable seafood (and educating their customers about it, which I think is great) and also offer an incredible wine list that is marked up just a touch over retail. I find the prices to be reasonable for the high quality of food. The decor is clean and modern with some nice aquatic photography and the staff is extremely knowledgeable, warm and attentive. Now onto our meal:
We started with the dungeness crabcakes with lime relish and mussels steamed in a spicy tomato cilantro broth. The crabcake was cooked perfectly and served on a bed of chilled tomato, onion and lime with just a hint of spice. The contrast of the warm fried crabcake with the cool acidic tomato salsa that was just a little spicy and oniony was refreshing and delicious. The mussels were so delicious and served in a wonderful spicy cilantro tomato broth, with just a hint of lime juice for some acidity. We meticulously sopped up every last drop of that broth with bread.
For dessert, we had the white peach raspberry crisp special, a glass of Sanct Valentin 'Comtess' 05 Passito from Alto Adigo, a dessert wine made from gewurtztraminer, reisling, sauvingnon blanc and pinot blanc, where the grapes are dried on mats to give it its sweetness, and some coffee. The crisp was a beautiful expression of summer, a little on the tart side, which I like, but with some nice vanilla ice cream to smooth it all out. The dessert wine, which was sweet with strong notes of stone fruit, went perfectly with the crisp; perhaps a little too well, as it was finished quickly.
701 Lighthouse Avenue,
Pacific Grove, CA 93950