Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Sardine Factory’s storied cellar is stacked. Cantinetta Luca’s (625-6500) ready to roll dough for days. Passionfish has its sustainable catches and wondrous wine values amassed – and Mundaka (624-7400) has its DJs and Serrano ham ready to slice. And even Cannery Row Brewing Company is ready to flow – almost.
For the U.S. Open brings more to town than hallowed history and the 156 most talented golfers on terra firma. It brings traffic. And packed-restaurant scenes. And, now, a so-called “renegade” club.
The Flying Wasp (840-6671) in former Chop House at San Carlos and Fifth in Carmel will be open till 1am, serving sips like the just-right Manhattan I tried this Sunday, with a menu inspired by the characters from the best golf movie ever set to celluloid, Caddyshack. Think Danny’s pork sliders (“Noonan!”) and Judge Smail’s garlic fries.
Rowdy and sexy servers will ferry food and drink. Matt Stibers will do country-western rock from 6-10pm Wednesday-Saturday (it opens at 3pm). Golf bags will hang from the walls. Big screens will show everything U.S. Open.
Consider the idea a Cinderella story of sorts. Outta nowhere.
Down on Cannery Row, the CRBC is making its final adjustments at a 24/7 clip and hoping to open as early as Thursday – the acquisition of its liquor license Wednesday will certainly help. During Tuesday’s soft opening, friends and family grazed on slippery sliders, tender pork belly, chop salads and corn flake-crusted chicken strips made juicy by an extended buttermilk bath. The big brick keg room soared beautifully behind the bar and the kitchen was hustling, while contractors tinkered with a beer bottle chandelier (and giant wine-barrel DJ platform) and Coastal Luxury Management team members solicited feedback on everything from music selection to menu items (and furnished plenty themselves).
The team is understandably torn between debuting at partial strength for the Open and taking time to fine tune more details. David Bernahl quoted something Thomas Keller told him: “The restaurant opens when it’s ready.”
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Another reason to love summer: The roof at the new boutique Inn at Del Monte Beach (655-0515) on Del Monte Avenue is raising its game every Wednesday from 5:30-8:30pm with a series called “Boats and Beats.”
The Monterey Yacht Club sends the beautiful sailboats on the sea; DJ Sparkinzi lays down the mellow house beats. I went by this week and found young, fun folks mingling in the sun as part of a Team in Training benefit.
A $20 donation included snacks prepped by owner Nick Yakup – like sun-dried tomato pizza – and wine (think Bargetto and Kick Ass Cab) poured by Mr. Everywhere Desmond Carreras.
Normally entry is free and drinks (beer, wine and champagne) are $5. A full bar downstairs also lubricates at market rates. And Yakup still provides free apps like lamb meatballs, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and seasonal veggies.
Yakub, Carreras and company are even scheming Sunday jazz brunches starting this Sunday (June 19) from 11am-3:30pm with Marc Jones of Tasty Solutions helping map the menu.
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Chants were already bouncing through the Britannia Arms (656-9543) and a swarm of face-painted and flag-waving fans generated a sweltering heat – and the U.S.-England game was still more than a half hour away. In fact, the bouncers told me, they’d hit capacity at 9:30am, two hours before opening kick. If soccer’s the beautiful game, the World Cup is a beautiful thing. I wished I could stay, but chowder called… Anticipating the 2010 Monterey Wine Festival chowder throwdown, soup’s been on my mind. Can a chef abuse the use of bacon? How can you not crouton? Do carrots belong? How severely should overcooked potatoes be prosecuted? My focus failed; I day-dreamed in cream colors. On Saturday, 15 local joints like Abalonetti, Forge in the Forest and Vivolo’s crafted their best in three categories; our judge panel chaired by MPC culinary arts professor Paul Lee blind tasted the contestants and emerged with essentially unanimous scorecards. The results, meanwhile, reaffirmed a favorite and introduced somewhat of a stunner.
The surprise: Overlooked Louie Linguini’s (648-8500) Chef Pedro Barroso delivered a soup singing with fresh crab, tender shrimp and a lively tomato broth with big crispy crouton-crostini, took my top score (and best seafood chowder title) and also took home third in the traditional chowder and most creative categories, bagging $1,000 across the three types. The champ in the most contested category, though, won’t come off as much of a surprise – at least to our readers, who have voted Old Fisherman’s Grotto their favorite for years. Chef Juan Ponce and his mastery of rich-but-not-too-viscous thickness, garlic accents and tender chunks of fresh clam still rule. His elixir also scored the shiny copper pot that comes with the People’s Choice Award… Like Moliere said, “I live on good soup, “not on fine words.”