Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Monterey: Pleasant Walk, Pleasant Food

We managed to get away ahead of the worst of the traffic this afternoon and therefore got to Monterey much earlier than we expected. We're staying at Casa Munras, an older hotel undergoing renovation. It's not down by the seaside, but I can't afford the prices those places charge, and the walk is good for us. And since we arrived so early, we went for a walk through downtown Monterey and down to the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Standing on the observation deck, we could see and hear the sea lions out on the Marina breakwater, and we decided to walk out and take a closer look.

At the end of the public walk we came to a fence separates the walkway from the breakwater. The breakwater was covered by cormorants nesting and attempting to attract a partner to nest with. Along the edge, sea lions sat, slept, and argued loudly with each other. In the marina harbor, Cheryl spotted a sea otter worrying away at something while floating on his back. As we watched, the otter spun under the water to avoid a cormorant looking for easy pickings.

Heading back toward our hotel, we started to think about where to have dinner. There are plenty of places to eat in the area, some with nice sea views (and prices to match), others in the downtown area. None of them seemed particularly impressive, although most would have been okay. But just before we got back to the hotel we looked in on Mexcal Restaurant, which is located just around the corner from our hotel, a fair bit off the main path. The server actually came out into the foyer while we were looking at the menu to encourage us to come in and eat. The place was deserted, but we put that down to it being fairly early in the evening. We told her that we might be back later. As we walked on, Cheryl observed that the menu was the most interesting she's seen so far.

After going back to the hotel, we rested for a little while and decided that it was Mexcal for us. This is a Mexican-California restaurant, with half their menu Mexican fare like quesadillas, carne asada, fajitas, and so forth, and half "California" fare (steak and seafood, mainly). The restaurant was still deserted; it looked like we might have been the first customers of the evening.

As it happens, this place deserves more customers than it's getting. The food was great! We started with the carne asada nachos, which were excellent. They serve a pinto bean spread with the bread, which we've never seen before, and it was very tasty. I ordered for the main course a Monterey Bay Seafood Penne Pasta, and the mix of lobster, shrimp, calamari, and other seafood in a lobster broth was good, too, but Cheryl got the best of it all: Pan-Seared Pistachio Sea Bass with rice pilaf. She shared a bit with me, and not only was the fish great, but even the rice had great flavor.

We finished off with orange cheesecake for me and peach tres leche cake for Cheryl. We waddled back to the hotel, but then went out for another walk around downtown to try and walk off a little bit of all that food.

That was an excellent meal at a restaurant that clearly isn't getting much traffic. That's too bad, and if you're going to Monterey soon, we recommend that you make a point of checking out this restaurant. The owner/chef even came out and asked us how the meal was, and we were very pleased with it and would go back again.

We have internet access in the hotel, although the relative signal strength varies and is unfortunately weakest at the work table. I even can drive my video signal from the computer to the TV in the room, so once I finish composing this, we'll watch one of the Super 14 rugby matches we downloaded earlier today. Tomorrow morning, we'll discover if there's enough bandwidth to live-stream the Cricket World Cup game while we take advantage of the included continental breakfast.
Tags: monterey
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