Most of the time, good grub is all I’m after. Friendly folks, a mom-and-pop atmosphere, a convenient and unique location and views of Monterey Bay… that’s just gravy.
Or barbecue sauce, Carolina-style, in the case of Harborside Deli & BBQ, which opened on Labor Day in the space below Massaro & Santos Restaurant on the Coast Guard Pier.
Owner-operator Bob Jamieson lives nearby on a 38-foot cabin cruiser with his wife Sally, a two-minute walk away (282 steps he says), and is making a splash with his weekend barbecues. Fishermen, scuba divers, tourists, locals and anyone who ventures off the Rec Trail are scarfing up his 30-hour wet marinated tri-tip every Saturday and Sunday.
The other weekend specials are the boneless chicken breast and slow-cooked pork. All three are $11.99 and come with two sides with ciabatta and butter. Sides include the macaroni, potato, corn and broccoli salads, as well as toasted Israeli couscous, green salad and Jamieson’s signature cilantro-lime coleslaw.
One Monday I popped in for a late lunch. I asked the young lady behind the counter what was good. She said the chili ($6) and pulled pork sandwich ($8.99) were her favorites. I seconded the motion. (Clam chowder, $5, is the other soup option.) As I sipped on a decent cup of coffee I noticed beers on tap, including three from English Ales Brewery of Marina – Dragon Slayer IPA, Black Prince porter and Big Sur golden ale. Firestone 805, Stella Artois and Bud Light are the other three (all $6.50). Three wines are available – Chateau Julien’s French kiss and Royalty Red and Cru Chardonnay (all $7).
Just as I was finishing the hearty, full-flavored, not-too-spicy chili, a beefy, traditional American version with kidney beans, the sandwich arrived. Half was enough after downing the big chili.
I enjoyed the other half of the succulent, slow cooked pork sandwich later – and its contrast of flavors and textures thanks to the housemade barbecue sauce (apple cider vinegar based), melted Jack and the Palermo Bakery French roll. But what really gives this sandwich its identity is Jamieson’s signature cilantro-lime coleslaw that goes on top.
Later that week I was lured back by Harborside’s breakfast choices. Having skipped breakfast, by mid-morning I was craving protein. I chose the croissant with egg, cheese and bacon over the ham version (both $5.99). Tasty, satisfying and nothing skimpy about it. It kept me going for hours. Other choices were the breakfast burrito with egg and cheese ($3.99, add $1 for bacon or ham). House-made quiches go for $6.50, ham and swiss or the classic quiche Lorraine. Mini-pies ($5), muffins ($1.50), bagels ($2) and fruit cups ($4.49) too.
After three decades running a cable TV business, Jamieson and his wife Sally can follow their passions. She teaches special ed, having earned her credential a couple of years ago. He continues to pursue cooking, something he’s been doing the past 20 years catering for nonprofits like Hospice Foundation and United Way. He also has competed in Chili Appreciation Society International-sanctioned chili cook offs.
Continuing to sail and live the sea life is another dream-come-true.
“The best thing about living on a boat,” he says, “is rocking to sleep each night and having pets we don’t have to feed.” He’s talking about the harbor seals and the playful sea otters he can hear cracking shells against the hull of his boat.
Barbecue is a weekend thing for now. That’s when it gets busy and his wife has time away from teaching. He tries to make only enough to be consumed the day it’s made. When he’s out, he’s out.
Come Sunday, plans to try his barbecue were dashed by torrential rains – one of the few things that can stop his ritual. He agreed to make a smaller batch of tri-tip Monday. Inside it was tender and juicy, not gristly or tough, thanks to the USDA choice meat he selects and the 30-hour marinade. That and his smoking and grilling technique create a fine caramelized outer crust. As for the side salads, it was clear some thought went into them too. One consisted of broccoli florets, sliced grapes, sesame seeds, red onion and chopped bacon, all very lightly coated in a mayo-apple cider vinegar sauce. The other was the corn salad. He pan roasts white and yellow corn, then adds diced red bell pepper, Ortega chili peppers, sliced scallions and just a dash of rice wine vinegar. I’m stealing that recipe.
Build-your-own sandwiches run $7.99, with a choice of breads (French roll, wheat roll, sliced white and sourdough); meats (pan roasted turkey breast, pit ham, roast beef, mortadella and Molinari dry salame) and cheeses (cheddar, Monterey jack, Swiss, provolone and pepper jack). The one veggie sandwich is the Dagwood ($6.99), with cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickle and red onion.
Jamieson calls what he’s doing now his “passion career, a career by choice.” In other words, he’s doing what he loves. That’s the kind of guy I want cooking.And his food is a testament to that.
Harborside Deli & BBQ 32 Cannery Row, Suite G, Coast Guard Pier, Monterey •8am-6pm Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri; 8am-5:30pm Sat-Sun; closed Wed. •884-5996, www.harborsidedelimonterey.com