Chez Noir, Carmel by the Sea, 8/12/23

Exterior – 5th Ave between Dolores and, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

Chez Noir was the result of the husband and wife team collaboration of Jonny and Monique Black.  He runs the kitchen and she manages the front of the house, both with lots of fine dining experience.   The craftsman house that holds the 36-seat restaurant also houses the couple above it.  Out front are enough patio tables for 22 more guests that also can be reserved.  Another 8 seats are in front of the small bar in a separate interior room.  A small seasonal menu relies on local products but they also offer a “let us cook for you” option.  They call it a shareable feast and it is.  The whole table must participate and wine pairings are offered.  It is a fantastic way to sample much of the menu and I heartily recommend it.  It is relatively new on the dining scene of Carmel, opening in Oct. 2022 and already has one well-deserved Michelin Star.  Trust me, this is a fabulous place to go if you get the opportunity. Continue reading

Stationæry , Carmel by the Sea, 8/12/23

patio – 5th Ave between Dolores and, San Carlos St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

Stationæry is a medium-sized (11 indoor tables) place operated by Anthony and Alissa Carnazzo.  They offer brunch, dinner, coffee and wines in a casual setting.  Also available are tables on the patio that opens to other stores and a couple stools at the tile counter.  A bench seat lines the wall set with small wood tables.  Many windows add lots of natural light and plants provide the decorations with music in the background which was sometimes hard to hear due to the crowd noise.  It was very busy and walk-ins had a long wait.  We had reservations luckily and the attentive and friendly staff moved the meal along nicely.  One note to service is that there are no refills on coffee – this was just house pour not a specialty cup.  The food primarily is sourced from nearby farms and ranches and varies with what’s in season.  It was good food, especially the roll which could have been a meal in itself.  I encourage you to try it but have a reservation. Continue reading

Aubergine (update), Carmel, 8/11/23


exterior –L’Auberge Carmel, 7th avenue Monte Verde St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

Aubergine has re-done the dining room since we were there in 2019 (in 2020 we were there but it was during the pandemic and we ate outside) and it looks even better.  It has fewer tables but they’ve added some upstairs and dining outside is a regular option for the 5 nights a week they are open.  Chef Justin Cogley runs the kitchen with skillful pastry chef Yulanda Santos to offer an ever-changing 8-course tasting menu.  (There was an optional Japanese A5 wagyu supplement that night which we took).  A huge wine cellar supplements the meal as does the full bar.  They have maintained the Michelin Star they earned in 2019.   Music is in the background and artistic fish swim around the walls for the 5 tables in the dining room.  Gone are the dark beams above but they’ve added a cabinet for glassware and burled wood center fixture topped with candles and flowers.  The staff are all friendly and ready to help with any requests.  Chefs bring out some of the plates and explain them.  It was a wonderful dining experience and I recommend it to anyone who can get there. Continue reading

Mission Ranch, Carmel, 7/31/20

entrance on road

Mission Ranch dates back to the 1800’s.  It covers 22 acres with views of the Pacific Ocean, Point Lobos, Santa Lucia Mountains and the beach and Clint Eastwood, former Mayor of Carmel and longtime Carmel resident, rescued the property from developers and turned it into a resort location.  The 10 buildings on the property include 31 hotel rooms and a restaurant featuring Classic American cuisine where you can watch the sheep graze while you eat your dinner.  There was a piano bar but it is now closed due to Covid-19.  The restaurant does not take reservations but you can go by and get on a list and they will call you when your table is about ready.  Masks are required and tables are well spaced.  There were 2 large patio areas for dining with a few standing heaters in each area.  As the night wore on and the temperatures dropped they could have used a few more heaters.  Once we made it to the table service was prompt and friendly.  The menu and wine list are all available through the scan square and there is a wifi network if you don’t have service.  You can bring your own wine with a corkage of $25. Continue reading

Nepenthe, Big Sur, 7/31/20


Nepenthe is 808 feet above sea level in Big Sur on the site of The Log House that was built in 1925.  Nepenthe, named for a plant ancient writers described as inducing a pleasurable sensation, was designed by Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright using native materials of red wood and adobe so the building became one with the landscape.  It is a facility on several levels with the main dining area on the top, the gift shop on the first and a more casual dining spot on the second level.  You can drive up much of the hill but then there are several sets of stairs to climb to the top.  Each level has magnificent vistas to take in of the water and tree covered hills.  The main dining room for Nepenthe was a large room with a long counter that now serves as a staging area for the plates to be served on the outside seating on the balconies around it and the large patio in front of it.  There was music inside the room but none outside.  You need to walk through the room to get to the bathroom.   It is really busy so we got there before they opened and checked in to get a beeper that went off when they were ready to seat us. Continue reading

Aubergine (update), Carmel, 7/30/20

L’Auberge Hotel

We visited Aubergine one year ago but currently California does not permit indoor dining.  Luckily Carmel has great weather for this change and the L’Auberge Hotel has a beautiful courtyard to move the restaurant guests to.   The polished wood tables are well spaced from each other and set with placemats and large linen napkins.  The patio has a brick floor, lots of plants and is punctuated with various lighting sources and heat lamps.  It is a lovely place to sit in the lighted hours as well as after the sun sets.  Various benches and chairs on the perimeter are used by people who ordered a separate drink from the bar.  All staff wore masks and were extraordinarily welcoming (as are all the staff at the hotel), especially Chef Justin Cogley who served some of the courses and visited with guests.  They now offer just one tasting menu to all and wine pairings are available.  You can view the wine list on your smart phone with the link provided.  Portion control was good and pacing was leisurely but never lagged.  It started quicker and then slowed slightly.  It still has one Michelin star but I see this place moving to 2 stars soon.  Put it on your list of places to go. Continue reading

La Bicyclette (update), Carmel, 7/30/20


Frankie and I visited La Bicyclette just a year ago and while the food is still good it is a much smaller place as all the seating has moved to the outside (due to Covid 19 regulations of CA.)   They have built a small deck so that seating is at sidewalk level but there are not many tables (I counted seven 2-tops and two 4-tops) and they do not take reservations.  We lined up before they opened and snagged one of the first round of seatings.  The small wood tables were set with a hand towel for a cloth with some umbrellas  and heaters dividing the tables.  The heaters would be good in the evening but during the daytime they could use more umbrellas as it gets quite sunny on this less busy street.  The menu offered a couple specials as well as a daily soup.  Service was friendly and helpful with all servers wearing masks and trying to afford distance  between them and patrons when possible. Continue reading

Flying Fish Grill, Carmel, 7/29/20

entrance and patio

The Flying Fish Grill website still lists Tina and Kenny Fukumoto as owners rather than Honza Prikryl who bought it 3 years ago but has not been able to get control of the website to change things.  The menu is correctly reflected on the website except they temporarily don’t offer Clay Pots as that was part of the indoor service.  It looked like a cozy place but currently dining was outside of the restaurant, along the bricked corridor of a shopping plaza, set off the street.  The good sized tables were unclothed metal ones some with umbrellas attached.   Service was friendly but with a few glitches, but then everyone is adapting to new rules and systems.  The inside restaurant was down a set of stairs so staff had to bring everything up to the “new” dining area.   The menu is all about Asian fusion seafood and a couple specials were also offered by the server. Continue reading

Dametra Café, Carmel, 7/29/20

IMG_6596Dametra Café specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.  The small cafe opened in 2008 and is even smaller now having only outdoor dining due to Covid 19 restrictions of California.  The same table set up runs along the street in front of the building with tables divided by planters and heaters and separated from the street by a wooden fence.  The narrow, small tables are covered with bright yellow oil-cloth tableclothes and set at street level rather than sidewalk.  It makes some difficult to get in and out but didn’t seem to keep the crowd away.  It’s reputation is that there is often a line for walk-up guests but we were lucky and got a table when we arrived. They offer the same menu at lunch and dinner but add sandwiches to the lunch offerings.   They also have a more limited menu for curbside pickup.  Service was friendly, helpful and efficient.  Even with an ever-changing supply of table guests they did not rush us to finish up our wine so they could reseat the table. Continue reading

Il Grillo Carmel, Carmel, 8/10/19


Il Grillo has a small indoor seating space and a larger patio outdoor.  The small light wood bare tables are set closely, but the night we were there most of the space was taken up by a giant party so I’m not sure what the normal spacing would be.  On the end of the room is a service counter with foods for sale or to be used in meal preparation.  Overhead are bottles of wine.  The white ceiling has painted white beams, the floor is tile and the walls are decorated with art.  Music plays in the background and service was friendly.  The menu here changes daily to reflect the availability of local products. Continue reading

Cultura, Carmel, 8/10/19


Cultura is a large place whose entrance is down a pedestrian only street.  Lower light levels were accentuated by the dark bare wood tables set with black napkins and a dark wood ceiling.  Fairly loud music played in the background.  On weekends they serve brunch as well as a lunch menu.  The room with the bar had a lovely stained glass window in the ceiling and windows to the outside.  The small tables were widely spaced and service was friendly with fairly good pacing. Continue reading

Aubergine, Carmel, 8/9/19


Aubergine is a tiny place that received a one Michelin star rating in the newest California guide, a first for the central coast.  It is one smallish room in the L’Auberge Hotel, but they also have a table in the wine cellar and some lounge seating.  Two of the walls of the room have bench seating while the third wall is windows to the street that were mercifully covered with curtains – as they get the afternoon sun.  The white ceiling is decorated with dark beams and the flooring is  a gray wood.  The white tablecloth covered tables are small and surprisingly close, but it was a small room and they only had 9 tables.  The 5 waiters provided plenty of attentive service.  Pacing was good to relaxed and portion control good.  There was some music in the background, lowered lighting and constant flow of people in and out of the hotel.  They serve two tasting menus, seasonal and signature, and do offer wine pairings (2 levels).  We chose the signature menu and ordered our own bottles of wine.  The service included lots of the main dishes coming out on platter to be shown before preparing your portion.  It was usually before you were served the item but I’ve grouped the photos with their appropriate course.  The ambiance is different but the place is worth a visit if you have the opportunity. Continue reading

La Bicyclette, Carmel, 8/9/19


La Bicyclette is on a corner in the busy shopping area of Carmel.  It is basically made up of 2 rooms, one having windows to the street on 2 sides, the pizza oven, a long bar and kitchen pass through and the other smaller room having a lot of hanging copper pots and glassware storage.  It seemed much more lively in the bigger room.  The small bare wood tables are placed fairly closely together and set with cloth napkins that are more like small towels.  The rooms had a number of eclectic decorations.  Music is in the background and the place is amazingly busy.  It is a fun spot with good food, friendly service and casual atmosphere. Continue reading