Thursday, March 31, 2011

Overeating in Old Town

Besides a large number of chain and fast food joints, Salinas is lacking in what it offers for eateries.  For dinner, we had a choice between two of the main restaurants in the area:  Monterey Coast Brewing and Salinas Valley Fish House, located right across the street from each other in Old Town.

We opted for casual fare over a second night of seafood.  Booths lined the wooden walls.  The pub atmosphere was expected, as was the pub style food.  I decided to be brave and try out some Salinas-pub-style seafood after all.

Once again we started out with an appetizer of Calamari.  I enjoyed their version much more than that of Neptune's Palace (see my first post).  The batter was crunchy, and the meat inside tender.  It was served with a delicious garlic aioli, which complemented the fried calamari well.

For my entree I chose a Sea Bass served with a Risotto.  I never have had sea bass before but was motivated by the hope that I would finally get the good risotto I had been craving.  The sea bass was tough and there were no redeeming qualities in its flavor.  However, the risotto was great!  It was surprisingly creamy, smooth, and well seasoned.  I ate around the fish, sticking to the rice.

It is a brewery, but I unfortunately am not a big fan of brews.  Brendan told me that he enjoyed them.  They also served local wines in addition to their beers.  I got a nice glass of Pinot Noir from Paraiso Vineyards.

Overall, it was a decent meal.  Don't expect fine dining and you'll find it a pleasant pub experience.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Soup and Sandwich in Salinas

Salinas is about 100 miles south of San Francisco, and was where our customer was located.  We drove down after our dinner at Neptune's Palace (read my previous post!) and checked into our hotel.

The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel, which isn't worth recounting here.  Brendan was set on eating at an In-N-Out Burger for lunch, but burgers aren't really my favorite so I checked out the area and picked out a diner in the next parking lot.

Margie's Diner ( had that local,small restaurant feel despite the fact that there are four locations in California.  The service was amazingly friendly.  I was getting takeout, but my waitress treated me like a seated customer.  I decided on a Grilled Turkey Sandwich which had jack cheese and green ortega chillies on it, giving it a slight kick, but nothing too intense.  It also came with a side of either French Fries, Onion Rings, a Cup of Soup, or Tossed Salad or Fruit.  I picked a meatball vegetable soup, which ended up being an entire other meal in itself.  It was a great lunch, although my stomach was a little unhappy afterwards.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Seafood and San Fran

My first trip and I lucked out... I was on my way to California.  My coworker, Brendan, and I flew into San Francisco on Tuesday.  Neither one of us had ever been there before, so our first stop was Fisherman's Wharf.  No meals were served on our flights, so despite a quick lunch break during our layover in Chicago, we were starving.  We scouted out a few restaurants on the wharf, and settled on a spot called Neptune's Palace, mainly because of its location right on the water.

We were seated at a table overlooking the bay and enjoyed watching the sea lions and boats on the water.  After getting drinks and having some bread, we ordered a plate of Calamari, which was served with a lemon aioli dip.  Although tasty, the calamari was a little chewy and the dip didn't add much to the dish.

Determined to use the entire food stipend provided by my company, I decided on Fish and Chips, except I swapped out my french fries for a Roasted Veggie Risotto and got a side of Polenta.   Their tartar sauce was delicious, and helped mask the saltiness of the fish, which I didn't notice until my ramekin was empty.  I did not enjoy the risotto.  The lack of creaminess made it taste more like fried rice with some vegetables mixed in instead of a smooth risotto.  The polenta was extremely rich, but being a lover of anything smothered in cheese, I truly enjoyed it.  If you're watching your weight, you probably would want to pass on this one.

The prices were reasonable.  The service was great (although formal).  I enjoyed the view and atmosphere of the restaurant, but was underwhelmed by the food.  You could probably find better fare for a better price right on the wharf, and if you're willing to venture out, you could definitely discover better restaurants in San Francisco.