2009 Restaurant Week Huge Success

October 13th, 200911:31 am @

This Monterey Bay Restaurant Week has officially jumped into the next strata.

I was in Basil’s the other night with my man Todd Sharp of Cuqui’s Cars in Marina and we were enjoying the delectable offerings of Chef/Owner Michele Cremonese (pronounced Meekaylay Krehmohnayzay). The man has one of the most talked about spots on the Monterey Peninsula with every dish made lovingly by him from fresh, local ingredients. There is a full liquor license and a late night menu so pop in there anytime for a delightful experience.

Delightful is the way I think of Cal Stamenov. He has been the best Chef around here for so long, I think people sometimes take him for granted. You’d think that his vivacious personality would have him right in the bright light of the international culinary spotlight, but for some reason, that’s not the case. Just go to Wicket’s this week and sample from that menu. I’m negotiating a new price package that allows me to have every item, rather than one from each category. While you’re there, have resident mixologist Jose Zapeda mix you up something lively—the man’s got more moves than Allied Van Lines. I was drinking fresh made Daiquiri’s there last week and before long I began to sing Elvis tunes.

Speaking of drinking, stop into Bistro Beaujolais and see Eric (or is it Erik). He’s the local king of the Absinthe Cocktail, with a great selection from around the world. Seek out the giant wooden snail in front of L’Escargot and plop yourself down for a treat. Kerry Loutas has manned the stoves (and the lease) there for about a decade. As always, the generous Loutas has loaded his menu with winners like Coq au Vin, Leg of Lamb, Veal Cassoulet, are you kidding me…I’m gonna have to get more than one of each here too, no question. Next year I hope the organizers of this event include a weight loss program afterwards for those of us who just don’t know when to stop.

I notice Chef Mark Ayers is rocking some Braised Short Ribs at the Highlands. I’m thinking…bop in there, get Wine Director Mark Buzan to find something French and maybe Grenachy, not too heavy, and bang out those Short Ribs. Chef Mark was doing Short Ribs at a recent event, maybe the Harvest Festival—I can’t remember, but I remember those ribs baby.

Jerry Regester is the Chef at the “C” on Cannery Row. That guy’s another one whose mastery of the stovetop shines through to everything he does. I’m eyeing those Caramelized Diver Sea Scallops right now. Greg Lizza is popping out Lobster Raviolis as an app at Fresh Cream. I’d follow those up with simple Pan Roasted Natural Chicken. Nothing like a well executed (sorry to my clucking pals) chicken. Sticking to that theme, try the Curry Chicken & Shrimps at An Choi from Chef/Owner Thanh Truong who has classical training and a deft touch. His wife Christine runs the front and will lavish you with kindness and warmth.

At Fandango, where Pierre and Marietta Bain are as close to restaurant royalty as we have, I’d go right to the Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella as long as they’re still around, then chow down on Paella, which has been one of this area’s best loved dishes for decades. I’m sitting here trying to contain myself, waiting for this special week to get here. I think I’ll roll out and eat up a few of these places right now…can’t wait, just can’t wait any longer.

-Ray Napolitano