I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.