Thursday, May 8, 2008
It’s a powerful feeling – knowing that you could, if so inspired, order a Double Phat Burger with chili, sautéed mushrooms and onions, bacon, avocado, an Ortega chile, pepper jack cheese and a fried egg. Apparently that opportunity to customize – along with a robust condiment bar that offers still more accessories, a lively autoshop-themed interior and central location – has locals motivated to chow down: Phat Burger’s been doing some bustling business just a few weeks into its Seaside, Calif., existence.
I had a hard time not taking issue with a name that bites on the venerable L.A. establishment (and confuses folks in the process), but have since been converted by all the quality condiments and the atmosphere conjured by the same folks behind the Breakfast Club. My bout with the Phat Burger ($4.69/a la carte; $7.69 with a drink and good seasoned fries) was rewarding, with the help of ample avocado ($.95) and some smoky and crisp bacon ($1.35). (I would recommend folks seeking a juicier burger ratchet their request to a medium rare or rare, as my “medium” burger was a bit dry.) Look for a full review in Feast once we give them some more time to hone their hamburguesas.
PHAT BURGER, 1520 Del Monte Blvd., Seaside, 11am-8pm, 394-PHAT, www.phat-burger.com.
INDIAN FOOD: BETTER LATE…
Summer just got a touch hotter at one of the livelier late-night lounges in the area, with Indian Summer’s new ownership adding some elements to complement the banana hookahs and brick fireplaces out back.
New chef Sukhwinder Singh has expanded the menu, added a champagne brunch on weekends (11:30am-2:30pm) and annouced his kitchen will be open until midnight Thursday through Saturday – good news given the dearth of options after 9pm in downtown Monterey.
Some subcontinent-savvy palates and I stopped by Sunday evening and tried out some Tandoori chicken ($7.95/half, $12.95/full), Saag Paneer (homemade artisan cheese with savory spinach, $12.95), cucumber salad with a mango dressing ($3.95) and samosas (and naan, of course). While the samosas underwhelmed – despite the inspired idea of a jalapeño cheese version – everything else was up to snuff. Come late night and the buzz-born appetite that often accompanies it, these options could become atmospheric. Indian Summer signature cocktails and a 22-ounce Himalayan Blue from India complemented things well.
INDIAN SUMMER, 220 Olivier St., Monterey (behind Portola Plaza), 372-4744.
GO FOR JOE, STAY FOR… TRI-TIP?
You gotta admit Godfather looks good – salami, proscuitto, mortadella, provolone with olive tapenade and garlic aioli all melted by grill into focaccia bread ($5.95). And I gotta admit I didn’t plan on walking out of a coffee shop with a panini, but the food options at Coffee Mia Brew Bar are seductive. There are 11 paninis (not counting the daily special I tried, a stack of sliced tri-tip, chipotle dressing, lettuce and tomato), a bunch of Paris Bakery, Layers and Cypress Baking Company treats, and homemade soups and legendary canolis from co-owner and longtime local Sarina Mercurio, who runs the corner spot near Long’s on Reservation Road with her husband, Horace. There are plenty of fair trade coffees, too, hailing from Ethiopia to India and dripped one cup at a time. A 16-ouncer runs $1.95.
COFFEE MIA BREW BAR, 250 E. Reservation Rd., Marina, 6am-6pm, 384-0148.