Fandango Restaurant Review

Fandango Restaurant Review | JustOneCookbook.comI hope you had a great weekend.  It’s been a while since we had restaurant review on Just One Cookbook.  Today my husband Shen is reviewing a restaurant called Fandango in Pacific Grove.  By the way, don’t forget to enter the recent giveaways!  It’s opened until 12:00am PST Sunday, November 27th, 2011.  Good luck!

Dear readers, welcome to the November restaurant review on Just One Cookbook.  Around the bay area, besides San Francisco downtown, the other well known food mecca among foodies is the Napa region with many renowned restaurants including both Michelin 3 star.  However, personally I think the Monterey Peninsula restaurants are just as good but they do not get the fair attention and I love it when we find fabulous restaurants there.  As I had mentioned before in my July review, we always stop by Cantinetta Luca each time we visit Monterey.  Since it would not make sense for me to review the same restaurant over and over again on Just One Cookbook, we decided to venture out and find other hidden gems in the Monterey region.  We used Open Table as the search tool for the next restaurants and decided on Fandango and Shadowbrook (review coming in Dec) based on reviews and price.

Pacific Grove is a bit away from the touristy area of Monterey and offers a fine selection of fabulous B&Bs.  We really love the small town feel of Pacific Grove with cute mom and pop stores lining Lighthouse Ave.  Fandango restaurant is located on a quaint small street (17th St) off  Lighthouse Ave. in Pacific Grove.  The weathered wooden exterior of Fandango gives a rustic vibe accented by blooming flowers in planter boxes under the windows and walls.  The front wall of the restaurant has largely disappeared and is covered by green plants, reminding me of a cottage in the woods.

Fandogo Exterior

Fandogo Front Exterior

As we entered through the door, it almost seemed like we went through a traveling portal and ended up at a cottage somewhere in Southern Europe.  The cottage feel came from the unfinished yellowish concrete the restaurant had liberally used in many seating areas.  Even though the restaurant was very clean the unfinished texture made you feel like that wall has been there for a while.   Fandango has several different dining rooms and each one surrounds the patrons with different decors.  In one of them, you are surrounded by a mural of country side and open fields with exposed warm wooden roof.  In another, you are surround by clean white walls with the warm sun shining through colorful sheer curtains on the windows.  It’s easy to feel the warmth the restaurant is trying to communicate in each of the different settings.

fandango interior rooms

We were seated in the main dining room where a large stone fireplace was burning a stack of firewood.  The long ceiling was made of parallel wood beams covered by glass panels so the room was very bright even on a cloudy day.  We were there for lunch and the lunch menu had a large variety of selection.  For appetizer, we ordered the escargot and onion soup gratinee.  Before I start commenting on the food, I want to say something about the french bread they served.  The french bread so amazingly tasty we all ate an incredible amount of the french bread and butter.  I believe the bread basket had to be replenished three times before we even got our appetizers.  The escargots were served in the classic porcelain escargot plates with 6 holes without the shell.  I love escargot so I tend to order them whenever they are available on the menu.  The meat was very tend and the garlic butter was perfect without the garlic being overly powerful.  I tricked my children eating a small piece each and told them what they just ate afterwards, their expressions were priceless.  The French onion soup was also very well done with plenty of warm melted cheese.  Sorry to digress a bit here but if you do visit Las Vegas, stop by Mon Ami Gabi and try their French onion soup.  It’s simply the best.  I have to forewarn you that it’s almost a meal in itself so it’ll be difficult to intake other food afterwards.  The French onion soup at Fandango had all the right flavors in the soup stock and the sauteed onion melted in your mouth.

fandango appetizer

For salad, Nami and I shared the roasted beets with Mesclun, mozzarella cheese, mushroom, tomatoes, and boiled potato.  It is an extremely large salad and probably enough for 4 adults to share.  The roasted beets were very sweet and contrasted very well with the tartness from the tomatoes and red onion.  Mix in the blue cheese and greens and your mouth becomes a carnival of flavors.  We absolutely loved it and will probably ordered it again if we go.  For the main course we ordered Spaghetti Siracua for the children, and I got the calamari steak and Nami got the filet of sanddabs based on our waiter’s recommendations.  I was surprised to see the calamari steak to come out looking as it did since I had it in my mind it’ll resemble a whole cuttlefish.  The calamari steak was very tender but I would not say it could have been the best choice.  Nami really enjoyed her sanddabs and commented on how fresh the seafood was.  One other disappointment was that the calamari and sanddabs both had the exactly same lemon butter sauce, the same mashed potato, and the steamed veggie with tomato sauce.  We had debated to get osso bucco instead of the sanddabs but it was lunch and we didn’t want to fall into the food coma right after.  The children enjoyed Spaghetti Siracua and intense flavor of the Italian sausage blended very well with the sauce and all the spices.

fandango main course

fandango calamari steak

As for dessert, we ordered crème brûlée and it was served with fresh seasonal fruits on top.  The fresh fruits actually made the crème brûlée extremely delicious.  Homemade crème brûlée is on our recipe to-do list so we definitely plan on adding fresh fruits as well.  In summary, we really enjoyed Fandango and look forward to going back there for dinner.  I would characterize the feeling as if you are eating a meal at your favorite aunt’s house in Europe.  The warm decor with very well prepared food has won its way into our hearts.  One other side note, according to our waiter Fandango is one of the only two restaurants that serves wild abalone in the Monterey area.  If you do ever try the abalone dish please let us know how good it is.

Fandango Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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  1. It sounds and looks like a great place! I love the pics of that onion soup, yum! and the crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts, in fact I always make it with fresh fruit (but I put it in at the bottom, before filling the ramekin with crème and caramelizing the top. It is such a sweet dessert that fruit helps it make it more palatable to me, I tend to use nectarines, but most seasonal fruit works well :-).


  2. What a beautiful restaurant! This was a really great review. We have been debating a trip back to the States this summer with a stop in California. I’ll keep this place in mind if we do go there. The photos of the food are simply stunning (as always!) I really like what the kids got. I like places that don’t just throw some frozen fries and nuggets in the fryer for kids. I liked that your review was very honest. It looks like a good meal, but very helpful for others planning on going to the same place as far as what to get.

  3. The restaurant look so nice and cosy :)
    haha….love tricking people into eating things they otherwise wouldn’t eat! I did that once with my friend- and got her to eat intestines! The escargot sound so good- I haven’t had escargot for years! :( The creme brulee looks delicious too!

  4. What a great looking restaurant… was it busy? Looks like you could nestle into a corner nicely and have a wonderful meal there. The food looks really good – especially the onion soup!

    I always think snails are a curious dish because they’re drowned with so much garlic butter that you can barely taste the meat. Of course, that’s the way I like them so I’m not complaining. Did you know, here in France they sell big packets of frozen snails, with the ends of the shells ready stuffed with a big lump of garlic/herb butter… yum!

  5. Hi Shen and Nami! Thanks for bringing back great memories of Fandango. I have spent many birthday dinners there as my husband and I have made it a tradition to stay in Pebble Beach for the occasion. I haven’t been there in a couple of years since we have found a new favorite place but Fandango is where I had my first taste of French Onion soup that I actually enjoyed. Their grilled lamb is excellent, as well. Being a creature of habit, I haven’t ventured much out of the rest of the menu so your comments are duly noted. Of course I agree that their creme brulee, one of my all-time favorite desserts (and on my to-make list, too) is wonderful. I think I have sat in every room in the restaurant–your pictures of Fandango and of the food brought me back in an instant. Thanks for a great review!

  6. I love those little cozy places where you feel like at home..Shen one more fantastic review, and dishes look very comforting and appealing! I don’t know about mom use to eat them a lot, and knew how to prepare, but I wasn’t brave enough to try it!:)) Thanks for sharing!

  7. Shen, a wonderful review! While I used to live in the area, we are now down south in San Diego, but this restaurant certainly looks like a keeper. You described a lovely meal and your photos complement the descriptions. That salad is calling my name!

  8. Another wonderful restaurant review! We have a restaurant called Fandango at Houston also, though the rating is horrible so we’ve never been. I am so envious of the different restaurants you have access to at Northern California, even though Houston is a huge city and plenty of eateries, but my trip to your neck of the woods has really gotten my taste buds spoiled…

    That’s funny the kids were tricked into eating escargot, my Mom was just telling the kids yesterday about how her aunt used to trick them into eating braised rabbit, the look on my little girl’s face was priceless (Since we have a pet rabbit).

    Have a great week!

  9. One more fabulous, professional review! It looks indeed like a small village restaurant somewhere maybe in Italy… You have made me want to run and buy some snails (in nearby France butchers sell them in shells already filled with butter, garlic and herbs mixture; actually it sounds funny: a butcher selling snails!). I also choose them every time I go to a French restaurant (actually no, I always have a dilemma: snails or foie gras for starter). They are particularly pleasant on cold Winter days.
    I have never seen crème brûlée with fresh fruit on top. I hope it didn’t spoil the crunchy top… but it looks delicious too!

  10. Nice review Shen. The restaurant is absolutely charming! Did you finish the extremely large salad?:) I love how fresh the vegetables looked! So many good dishes here – may be Nami or you will replicate them at home & share the recipes with your readers.

  11. This restaurant looks amazing (aside from the few less than stellar dishes)! Great review, and fabulous photographs! I would love a bowl of that French onion soup now and the escargots looks delicious – I would have loved to see the look on your kids faces when you told them what they ate!

  12. Oh sounds like a lovely place for a great meal. I was in Monterey once and I have a vivid memory of eating an oyster sold right off the doc in the city…the best oyster ever. And funny about tricking the kids into eating escargot. This was actually my main meal when I was about 3 years old and my parents took me with them to nicer restaurants. This always left the waiter apparently asking: are you sure she will eat them? I was thinking: bring more!

  13. I just love reading bloggers discovering homely and rustic restaurants such as this one. It brings to heart the warmth and joy of great food, great company without all the gloss. :) Looking forward to more recipes and write-ups such as this.

  14. That all looks amazing! I am really jealous of your photos as I’ve been having a hard time lately with taking blog worthy pics in restaurants. Very beautiful and they all showcase the dishes. I will definitely be adding this place to my list of places to go when I’m back in the Bay Area!

  15. Hi Nami,
    I’m headed to Monterey for a mom’s getaway in a few weeks. We were planning on going to a restaurant called Passionfish (it’s in Pacific Grove). Have you gone or heard about it? I’m excited because there are lots of options on the menu that work for me since I’m gluten-free. They aren’t a gluten-free restaurant, but just happen to have many dishes that fit the bill. Any other recommendations? I will definitely think of you when I’m there! :)