Posts Tagged With: Montrio Bistro

Top 10 Things We Ate in California

Perbacco - Carne CrudaCarne Cruda at Perbacco (SF).  If you close your eyes while eating this magnificence, you may find yourself chasing chickens on the hills of Serralunga d’alba, while a little Barolo tipsy.  Once you open your eyes, you are eating this delicate hand chopped raw beauty aided by hazelnuts and quail egg at Perbacco.  This is one of San Francisco’s elite Italian specializing in dishes from the severely underrated region of Piedmont.

French Toast at NOPA (SF).  I’ve had a lot of French Toasts in my young adult life, and got the kilos to prove it.  While this French Toast doesn’t look very different than the rest of them, it couldn’t be more different.  A lot of work involved to reach such richness levels, and it only comes in one size, extra large, so great for sharing.  And while you at it, do try the great burger, before checking out SF’s version of the Painted Ladies nearby

NOPA - French Toast

Carnitas Tacos at La Taqueria (SF) – Yes, the Carne Asada Burrito griddled El Dorado style was heavenly alright, but those Carnitas just blew me away.  Heaps of juicy porky goodness topped with pico de gallo produce pure awesomeness on every morsel.  At this busy Mission legend, off hours means only a 20 minute wait

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Culotte at Cockscomb (SF) – Yes, I still have a job, which means “Cockscomb” can be safely Googled.  Its actually the comb of a rooster, and also a name of a flower.  But in SF, its a name of a hidden gem in the SOMA neighborhood.  Their Bacon Chop is sort of of a revelation, and the beef heart tartare is as good as it gets.  But it was the perfectly cooked Sirloin cap (Culotte) that left that special lasting impression.  To make a Culotte this tender, requires talent, and all signs point to no shortage of it here.

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Burrito Mojado at Los Agaves (Santa Barbara) – Who knew Santa Barbara was such a Mexican mecca.  You certainly wouldnt know while watching all those soap operas in the late 80’s (remember?).  Guadalajaran specialties throughout the menu with this grande wet burrito at the helm.  Grande often means dry, lacking flavor, but not the case here.

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Mussels at Montrio Bistro (Monterey) – Since the meal at Montrio we’ve had Mussels on three different occasions, and all three resulted in disappointment, anger, and even expletives on one occasion.  PMD (Post Mussels Depression) is apparently a real thing.  Something one can get after experiencing Mussels from Penn Cove in Whidbey Island, Washington that can put Prince Edward Island Mussels to shame.  Cooked and served with a mild red curry broth, these were some of the fullest, sweetest mussels I ever had

Montrio Mussels

Rotisserie Chicken at El Huarique (LA) – A pleasant surprise in the middle of Venice Beach boardwalk was this hole in the wall producing some of the best Peruvian in recent memory (recent memory is 10 days give or take these days).  Unlike the plethora of touristy eats outside, there’s zero atmosphere here, unless you have a wall fetish.  The menu includes a nice Lomo Saltado, Chinese like beef and veggie stir fry, ceviche, and this perfectly spiced chicken.

El Huarique Chicken

Hummus With Mushrooms at Itzik Hagadol (LA) – “Big Isaac” came up as Donald Trump would say, “Huuuuuuuge”.  This Encino gem dishes out all the Israeli classics in a sprawling space that allows you to bring the entire Mishpucha without notice.  WITHOUT NOTICE!  The hummus had that perfectly creamy texture and flavor you can only find in select places.  And those shrooms elevated this thang even further.  And while you at it, try the Moldovan Mititei, beautifully spiced kebabs made from mixed ground meat.  Some of the bulkiest, juiciest Mititei I’ve had in recent memory

Itzik Hagadol Hummus

Fried Chicken at Big Sur Bakery (Big Sur) – I know fried chicken.  I mastered in fried chicken (minored in couscous).  This was good fried chicken.  And the pizzas, especially with egg, not too shabby at this perfect stop on your stop-go-stop-go-stop-lose-your-glasses Route 1 day

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“Toast and Jam” ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (SF) – We fell in deep lasting mad love with this ice cream shop in the Ferry Building.  The ice cream has all the textures and sharp flavors of a top notch Gelato (technicalities!).  While their top seller “Secret Breakfast” was brilliant indeed the “Toast and Jam” was even brillianter (Is that a word?  I think so).  Dying wish type stuff.

Strawberry Ice Pop at Yosemite National Park – Nothing particular noteworthy at this stand by the entrance to the mist trail.  Though having it at the end of the hike to the top of the falls on your way back can be as satisfying as any of the items above.  Like a gift from the gods.

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Montrio Bistro in Monterey – Don’t Fear the Reaper

Montrio SalmonChills, confusion, despair, butterflies, who shot Mr Burns, shaking, why is it so cold here.  Where the hell are we?  Where are the butterflies?

“Mom, what’s wrong with dad?  Why is he sitting in the corner, on the floor like that?”

“He just found out the restaurant he picked for tonight is #1 on Trip Advisor.  Just give him a moment and avoid eye contact.  It happened before.”

I know that voice.  Mommy?  More chills, hungry, it was Maggie, Maggie shot Mr Burns.  How many R’s in Monterey.  Where are the freakin butterflies.  She says they come in November, but I cant stay that long.  I need to visit Big Sur tomorrow.  What the hell is Big Sur anyway.  So hungry.

“Mom, he is drooling now”

“Don’t touch him!  That means he is getting better”

Ok, feeling better.  Off we go to the #1 as of this writing and dine with fellow tourists.  We are after all tourists as well, and do touristy things like ride cable cars, walk slow, and visit aquariums.  How bad can this be.  I considered a place called Passionfish, another long timer, near our Butterfly-less Grove, but opted to stick to the script.  This vacation is going just great.  Stick to the script.

Montrio PopocornIt’s just as I imagined.  Packed with visitors from all over the world.  I hear French, Italian, New Jersian… chills slowly creeping back.  But hey, we quickly get a table and.. crayons.  You would think that crayons will make the matter worse, but in this classy looking, mural filled joint its actually quite refreshing.  Imagine getting crayons at Aquavit.  I’m back to self, and in ordering mode.  The menu breathes Best of America.  California America!  There’s salmon, there’s chicken, there’s short rib.  Its a new revamped menu I’m told by a {gulp} British chef, and just about everything sounds orderable.  They even have a “Bites” section which suggests this check inflating trend is now nation wide.

We start with what else, popcorn.  They come cheesy, mixed with bacon bits.  The waitress goes “May I?”  “May I what, feed them to me?”  No, she picks up the cup and spills all the popcorn on the plate so we could easily pick them up with the chopsticks that come with it.  How fun.  Mac and Cheese was cheesy alright, and quite good.  But the polenta with mixed mushrooms, one of my favorite dishes on the planet fell a little short.  Leave that to the Italians.  Dungeness Crab cakes tastes like crab cakes should.  Wish there were more of that though.  Perhaps the fact that its not quite Dungeness Crab season here is to blame.  The “Crispy Calamari” comes shaped like chicken tenders, aided by a tangy Romesco (I heart Romesco) and house made hot sauce that came in a nose drop bottle.  And then came the Mussels.Montrio Calamari

The Mussels are paragraph worthy.  We are a mussels family, enjoying our east coast mainly PEI (thats Price Edward Island for the German tourists) mussels for years.  Yes, I know eating PEI mussels in NYC and in the source is like eating two different kinds of mussels.  But here on the west coast, chefs in the know, even British, are loving the mussels coming out of Penn Cove in Whidbey Island, Washington.  These mussels, cooked with a mild red curry broth, were some of the fullest, sweetest mussels I ever had.

The mains here did not disappoint either.  The last time I ordered salmon and chicken together was 25 years ago when my source of income was tips from pizza deliveries.  The chicken was fine for a #1.  The salmon (top) I get isnt meant to be eaten by itself.  A spoonful of salmon, creamy risotto, Nduja Sauce, and fried brussel sprouts leaves was, I’m using it, divine!  And I couldnt find much wrong with that short rib.  Damn its super tenderness, and juiciness!  A proper finish with a sticky toffee pudding and a waitress recommended bread pudding that is particularly popular here (great for NY standards, average in New Orleans)

Crisis overblown.  We enjoyed this one enormously.  Kudos to the chef, the waitress, and crayon makers.  This did not feel like a tourist trap, but a local established that cares about the product, and what their customer eats.

Montrio Bistro
414 Calle Principal, Monterey, CA

Montrio Mussels Montrio Crab Cakes Montrio Mac n Cheese Montrio Chicken Montrio Short Rib Montrio Bread Pudding Montrio sticky toffee

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