Thursday, January 16, 2003
BEST INTENTIONS...Hi everyone. Hope the year is starting off well for you all (or y'all, which is the better expression). My NEW YEAR'S not-quite-a-resolution but more like an inclination to lose some weight and get back into shape-actually I am in a shape already, just not one that allows me to uncover the mirrors-is going great. I feel livelier, more inspired, quicker of step, sharper of mind and definitely more in tune with the universe. I have cut back on the portions of food (trying to cut the number of meals down to four or less), made an effort to be more active (I moved the couch farther away from the refrigerator) and completely revamped my attitude to one of pure positive energy and joy (I'm on PROZAC). I expect that anytime soon I'm gonna be back to my old svelt self again. Uhh, last night I had a bit of a setback when I got on the scale and it registered one pound heavier than usual, but it was a friend's scale and it must have been defective.
STAR QUALITY...Someone gave me a copy of the UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO RESTAURANT GUIDE FOR 2003, official name, Al Allesandri's Restaurant Guide 2003. Actually it was a photocopy of the pages that listed the Monterey County restaurants. Apparently this publication goes out to the 30,000 alumni of USF so it has some clout. I don't know how it is compiled and I suppose if I was more of an investigative reporter and less of a couch potato columnist I would find out but the published results are interesting. It uses a star and dollar sign key to indicate the restaurant's price to quality ratio (if you don't follow, ask someone). Also listed is the address and phone number and what meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch) are served.
ANTON AND MICHEL got a $$$ *** rating, a solid three out of four, no problem there. CASANOVA, same thing, three and three...DEETJEN'S in Big Sur was awarded $$ **1/2, probably should have been higher, but not bad...CAFE RUSTICA in Carmel Valley Village, $$ ***, nice ratio...CAFe FINA and DOMENICO'S on the Wharf both got $$ ** as did CIBO'S the Italian joint up the street on dry land...OLD BATH HOUSE *** edged out PACIFIC'S EDGE **1/2 while both garnered $$$.
MISSION RANCH got 2 and 2...TUTTO MONDO'S in Carmel $$ **1/2. In Tony Tolner's joints, MONTRIO led the way with a $$ *** while TARPY'S got $$ ** and RIO GRILL a disappointing $$$ **. THE GEM, tucked away in Carmel behind Anton and Michel's, scored $$ ***, a nice boost...FLAHERTY'S, also in Carmel went $$ **1/2...LA SCUOLA in Castroville $ **, a pretty good price-to-quality ratio...IL FORNAIO and PIATTI'S finished in a dead heat for the Northwest-based Italian chains with outlets in Carmel, $$ **1/2...ROCKY POINT came in at $$$ **1/2...VENTANA INN a respectable $$$ ***...WHALING STATION, a spot one might associate with higher prices scored well with a $$ ***, as did ROBERT KINCAID'S WHITE HOUSE BISTRO $$ ***.
In a battle among PG Italian spots, JOE ROMBI'S with $$ *** beat out PASTA MIA $$ ** (apparently the reviewers missed both Favaloro's and La Dolce Vita along the Lighthouse Avenue Strip, not to mention Alberto's and Vito's on Forest Ave). The FRENCH POODLE in Carmel $$ **1/2...THE OAKS at Carmel Valley Ranch $$$ ***...PORTABELLA on Ocean Avenue $$ **1/2...ROY'S in Spanish Bay $$$ ***...MICHAEL'S TACQUERIA in Country Club Gate Center PG $ ** (there was a noticeable absence of Mexican joints, as well as Chinese, Thai, Japanese--all the esees)...GOLDEN BUDDHA in the Barnyard was an exception, getting a nice $$ ***.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE...The big winners were FANDANGO $$$ ***1/2...FRESH CREAM $$$ ***1/2...SIERRA MAR AT POST RANCH INN $$$ ***1/2...plus the four-star favorites, BOUCHeE $$$ ****...CLUB XIX $$$ ****. The choices that stand out the most are FIFI'S which earned a $ ***1/2 rating, making it the best price-to-quality restaurant in the guide, and SARDINE FACTORY which garnered the unique $$$$ **** rating (obviously the reviewers went deep into the wine list).
As you can see, there are some glaring omissions. It is a ridiculously tough job to attempt to catalog all the restaurants in one area, especially one as restaurant-rich as this one. Like so many other guides and top ten lists and catalogs of all sorts, this one is just a rough map of what is available. I've never been too big a fan of things like ZAGAT'S Survey or the MOBIL GUIDE even though I love to read them and argue about the choices. Remember, these are usually written by some nimrod like myself who just happens to be able to meet deadlines and string together two or three semi-coherent thoughts (occasionally).
Have fun debating the results and screaming about the omissions.
--SEND YOUR RATINGS TO RAY@COASTWEEKLY.COM