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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Knuckles Up

Bold The baddest sports bar in the land is upgrading its game. Starting this Sunday, Aug.1 through Oct. 1, Knuckles (372-1234) will temporarily relocate to the Pebble Room located adjacent to the current location so workers can remodel the joint. Food and beverage service will be available beginning Monday, Aug. 2 at 4pm.

Official word is Knuckles will offer the same menu with draft beer selections and food and drinks specials.

For the duration of the renovation draft beer specials including $4 pints and $6 mugs along with a $4 value menu.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

France in the Fog

An antidote to the obnoxious July fog awaits: the always warm and inviting Fandango (372-3456) in Pacific Grove.

The whole "take a two hour vacation to the Mediterranean"/"Save thousands in airfare!" bit feels a little over-traveled as too many wannabe spots evoke it, but here it holds true.

The bright sunflowers, the country windows, the red fabric light fixtures, the strong European flavors all drip transportational powers.

But there's more to Fandango's impressive staying power than ambiance and great food. While other restaurants have been around longer, other chefs have accumulated more accolades and many places match their service, no one I know can trump the trifecta that Fandango has: a chef, an owner and a server who have each been there since its founding.

Yes—Owners Pierre and Marietta Bain, Chef Pedro De La Cruz and Server Wesley Cain have all been there 23 years. (In fact, Fandango is celebrating its 23rd all year by drawing a birthday winner at the end of each month from those that dined and submitted their names. Winners get a private party with hors d'oeuvres and wine for 23 guests in the beautiful upstairs banquet room.)

Something is right when the staying power is that potent. In fact, Cain's son Tony, maybe the best dancer in the local hospitality circuit, now serves at Fandango himself.

We went for lunch last week and inside truly felt like a sanctuary of savory. The salads—every entree comes with salad or soup, which has somehow become an old-school move—felt simple, lightly/nicely dressed and blue-cheese satisfying.

The veal picatta ($26.95) barely needed a knife for its free-range fabulousness, arriving thinly sliced with lemon butter and capers, and partnered with fresh grilled vegetables and perfect mashed potatoes. This dish might make a run at the legendary rack of lamb ($32.95) for signature dish status.

The wild Alaskan salmon spaghetti special ($12.95) was somehow sumptuous without being too rich, luxuriating in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce with as many big pink pieces of fresh fish.

The special comes with adorable profiteroles. Nice way to end a fleeting vacay (though the coffee ice cream does better refrigerated than the pastry part, which doesn't feel as fresh out of the cold).

BTW: $12.95?! That's a flat-out freaky-good deal for a high-grade three-course lunch.

Here's to another 23 or 46 or 69, Fandango.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Three Savory Salinas Storylines

1. The Steinbeck Festival's got a lotta love for foodies.

The National Steinbeck Center is opening easily its most ambitious and diversified Steinbeck Festival outing ever—its 30th annual—on Thursday, Aug. 5 with a world cuisine highlight reel directed by deliciously talented food artist Wendy Brodie.

Brodie’s done more than inspire Californians with her craft and her TV show. The well-traveled toque has developed menus at five-star hotels in Europe and the Jockey Club in Hong Kong among other travels, so this “Circumnavigating the Globe Through the Art of Food” sucker should be seriously savory.

“The food will visit places Steinbeck did,” she says. “Mexico, Japan, Russia, Paris and Berlin and of course we can’t forget Cannery Row-Monterey-Salinas.”

And the price is a bargain, especially for members ($10), though us civilians cough up less than a twenty ($18), 775-4721.

2. Habanero is back and as hot as ever.

Habanero (757-1975) reopened last week in the heart of Oldtown after being closed for a couple of months due to drama with the sales tax man.

Place is quick, good, convenient and delicious. Owner Miguel Martinez recommends the signature brochetas ($12 with rice, beans and tortillas)—skewers of a range of spiced meats blanketed with fresh melted cheese.

And his housemade salsa can stand up to anybody’s.

2. The Oldtown Bar & Grill as you know it is history.

Change is afoot at Oldtown Bar & Grill (757-2720) as Mike Hackett, who also directs traffic at Casa Sorrento (757-2720), is selling the popular spot.

Hackett’s a big idea guy—he once told me he wanted to bring Salinas its own Catalyst a la Santa Cruz—so don’t expect him to go quietly into the valley night.

Former manager George Ramirez says a mariscos seafood spot is expected to move in some time in August.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Salt Rock

Hard not to heart Schooners' patio pretty hard. Though our readers vote Chipotle Best Burrito in Monterey County, they get Best Drink With a View right.

The drinks include good wines by the glass, 23-ounce draft Kona "Longboard" Lager or Big Sur Amber ($7.25), and a Patio Boss (with Patron silver, citronge, S&S mix, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice, $13). They also do a martini of the week ($10), a plum cosmo ($10) and seafaringly sporty Pyrat's hot buttered rum ($10).

And though they don't honor happy hour, they do a mean crispy tuna and asparagus roll with wasabi mustard and red curry sauce ($10) and a calamari worthy of the perch on the Pacific.

Now they are adding an inspired (read: no brainer) summer series that capitalizes on a terrace that merits the many weddings and private parties it hosts with…live local music for the people.

The concerts happen on the corner of that ocean patio pictured above—for free—every Friday through the end of summer. There are also shows indoors on Saturdays. Here are some tasting notes-style descriptions of the local favorites they are featuring, compiled by the Plaza team:

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa’s Concerts on the Bay
Summer Concert Series

Schooners Lower Terrace
5:30pm-9pm Friday Nights

July 30: Eight Second Ride
Country Western Band, Eight Second Ride has opened for and performed with such superstars as George Strait, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Johnny Rodriques, Riders in the Sky and John Denver, just to name a few.

Aug. 6: Wild Blue
Jimmy Buffet Style “Key West meets Southern California.” That's it in a nutshell. Wild Blue is the hot little trio that brings the message to every event—“The Tiki bar is open!”

Aug. 13: The Original Substitutes
Specializing in recreating magical musical moments from the 60's and 70's, The Subs have perfected a sound remarkably faithful to that of the original recording artists they pay tribute to. With great integrity and contagiously fun energy, The Original Substitutes play all your favorites from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Creedence Clearwater, The Band, and so many more.

Aug. 20: The Money Band
Classic Rock n Roll, The Money Band has shared the stage with many major acts including Steve Winwood, Bekka Bramlett, The Dixie Chicks, Pam Tillis, Kenny Chesney, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dave Mason, Link Wray, The Stray Cats, The Byrds, James Burton and many, many more. They have toured and performed all over the United States as well as internationally, with dates in Europe including England, The Netherlands, Italy, and France.

Aug. 27: The Money Band
(See notes above.)

Monterey Plaza Lobby Bar
5-8pm Saturday Nights

July 24: Melange
Paul Tarantino (tenor, soprano and alto saxophone, flute) studied music at the University of Miami. His credits include playing with Louie Bellson, Bob Hope, Joe Williams, The Temptations, Bill Watrous, The Smothers Brothers, Michael Bolton, and many others. Scott Brown, a solid keyboard player and vocalist, is also known as one of the finest musical arrangers on the Monterey Peninsula.

July 31: Local Knowledge
An award winning singer/songwriter, Geoffrey Rutledge has been playing professionally for over two decades. He's shared the stage at various venues with such prominent artists as Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby & Graham Nash, and John Prine (to name just a few).

Aug. 7: Laurent Fourgo
Laurent Fourgo and his Ensemble have been charming music lovers all over the Bay Area with their sweet, jazzy sound. Even as a child growing up in Paris, France, vocalist and bandleader Laurent Fourgo exhibited a passion for music. He learned to sing almost every Elvis song, prior to actually learning to speak English and knowing the meaning of the words.

Aug. 14: Laurent Fourgo
(See notes above.)

Aug. 21: Melange
(See notes above.)

Aug. 28: Local Knowledge
(See notes above.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Taste Time Machine to 1833

The wildly anticipated heir to the Stokes Adobe in downtown Monterey is within weeks of a soft opening. The telltale indicator: a two-day job fair 10am-2pm Sunday and Monday, July 18-19, in sister restaurant Cannery Row Brewing Company's banquet room brought out scores of barbacks, managers and servers-to-be.

The indominable David Bernahl, co-owner/founder of the Coastal Luxury Management parent that runs CRBC and 1833, says the tentative opening date is mid August.

In a related note: Out in Carmel Valley, they are celebrating the "bon voyage" of former winemaking assistant and nLinkew 1833 Chef Tim Mosblech in conjunction with Ridge Watson's birthday this Saturday, July 24, with wine tastings, barbecue and special deals, 11am-5pm,

Here's what I learned about the heady concepts both edible and contextual at 1833 for a cover story about the rise of Coastal Luxury:

The adobe at 500 Hartnell has been there a very long time. CLM realizes that is the place’s greatest asset – “The historic property itself is a great investment,” says Monterey County Bank’s Charles Chreitzberg – and one CLM is wisely capitalizing on. Its name is taken from the year the building was built. The menu gravitates toward ingredients obtainable 177 years ago. Tables, chairs and accents will echo that theme – no white tablecloths, but perfection by imperfection.

The bar will take on an apothecary aspect appropriate for an era when medicine and alcohol were often interchangeable, lined with antique bottles and manned by bartenders in labcoats applying a scientific appreciation to a mixology-style menu heavy on botanicals. “Hattie’s room” will carry appropriate tributes, including salt crystal samples in homage to the resident ghost’s alleged tradition of salting glasses of wine.

And Hattie won’t be the only thing glowing. Designer Cassie Duncan says the bar itself in the reconfigured entrance area will be 4-inch-thick green onyx illuminated by imbedded LEDs. Antique lighting fixtures will drip near what she calls “romantic niches” hugging the immense oak and soaring redwood out front as part of a reimagined “secret garden” guarded by a hedge. Light from period floor lamps, lounge-friendly furniture and ottomans will give the bar-adjacent “library room” lounge a casual sensibility.

Tim Mosblech was just announced as chef last Wednesday. A veteran of three-Michelin-star restaurants in France, Spain and Germany, having commanded the kitchen at lofty L’Auberge in Carmel and worked with Walter Manzke and Laurent Gras, he’s got the chops to execute carefully crafted rustic. Items on the wine list and menu will reflect the influence of the predominant populations at that point in time on the Peninsula, primarily Spanish and Italian. Mosblech’s palate – he’s been making wine at Joullian with Tom Ridge for the last and year and a half – bodes well for wine pairings.

A place with seven distinct spaces appropriate for a range of occasions, meanwhile, bodes well for a downtown currently hungry for good dinner options and starved on lunch spots.

Mosblech’s drafting preliminary menus already, though he hopes they’ll change as often as every day. He’s thinking plates small (salt cod croquettes) and very big (whole halibut), dishes from the wood oven (rabbit cabbage flatbreads) and à la plancha (spot prawns and hearts of palm), tastes both far flung (lamb tongue) and totally local (red abalone).

Love for Mundaka Lunch

Beautiful news by the sea: Mundaka (624-7400) is rockin' for lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Tuesday through Saturday...

Chef Brandon Miller was the master of the heirloom tower at Stokes, and the guru's still got it. His house-pulled mozzarella remains mighty, the tomatoes meaty-earthy excellent, and the combination of sea salt and a honey-like gastrique a godly accent to the assemblage. The mozarella salad is $12, but worth it.

Gaston Georis, co-owner of Casanova and uncle to Mundaka commander-in-chief Gabe Georis, made one his lunch.

The tapas—like this cous cous treat—are still there for the tasting on the bar for $2 a toothpick. Spanish native Nico also swooped some by our seats.

The padron peppers ($7) are back in all their seasonal, smoky, Maldon-salty glory. I could eat 18. Check that. I did eat 18.

Little silver slivers of the sea—boquerones, or white anchovies with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and parsley—present a sustainable treat ($7).

And it's not really tapas without the papas. Ordering up the simple satisfaction of the fried bravas ($5) with a little life from chili and aoili seems automatic for this hombre.

The cauliflower gratin earns my recommendation, meanwhile, for its blend of purple vegetable, horseradish and gruyere cheese.

I was heading toward the open face goat cheese sandwich with oven-roasted ratatouille ($9) that two Carmel Visitors Center lunchers were breathlessly oooing over at a nearby two-top—until Miller recommended the steak sandwich with cauliflower and shoestring fries on the side.

Nice call, chef—the foccacia style bread is a nice vehicle for the supertender filet and Spanish onion jam, and the fries are just right.

While we were eating, the night's fish special swam in. That's superb server Nico, who helped hatch the idea of the restaurant with Gabe and his brother Nico over drinks and grub in Spain, on the left.

And for the lunch that really means business, the wine list remains blanketed by great values like a Vinho Verde we plucked for 15 bucks.

In short, the best city for sit-down lunch on the Peninsula—the land of Dametra (622-7766), Basil (626-8226) and Bouchee (626-7880)—just got better.

Can I get an amen from the congregation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things You Should Love

1. Three geniuses, one dinner.

They don't make many tasting experiences like this.

Chef Cal Stamenov is the creator of the Zagat-wowing "California natural" ambrosia at Bernardus Lodge’s signature restaurant Marinus, where he handpicks gems from the garden to combine with what his foragers and sources give him to craft things like black morels in black truffle oil. (Check out a recent experience in his rarified epicurean atmosphere here.)

Gary Franscioni
of Roar Wines grows grapes so glorious he can charge as much for Pinot poundage as anyone in the world. Really.

And Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, who partners with Franscioni with Garys' Vineyard, is larger than life. Together they made Santa Lucia's rep what it is in the wine world (namely: more revered by the sip).

Thursday, July 29, a 6:30pm welcome reception unwraps on Wickets Terracebefore the 7pm dinner—sounds like Eden for a summer evening. $135, 658-3550

This sucker will sell out. Five courses plus at least five wines multiplied these three heroes equals exponential excellence.

2. Farmers markets flying all over the place.

This month is MPC Farmers Market's last as a Thursday operation. Starting in August the freshness descends upon the lower parking lot on quieter Fridays to allow a surge of recessionary junior college students desperately needed parking on busier Thursday. More than 50 vendors—including fresh oyster shuckers and boutique sourkraut experts—will also appear at different hours from now on, with an earlier 10am-2pm slot. Info at

In Pacific Grove, the much debated shift of the city's certified market is finally happening. Central Avenue supplants Lighthouse as the street to be on. Starting this Monday, vendors began setting up between Forest and Fountain avenue. The market will still run 4-7pm. More at Everyone's Harvest website.

3. More pizza.

With Croce's Pizza and Croce's East Coast Eatery evaporating at the start of the year, downtown Monterey faced a sudden hole—one exaggerated come late night—when the pair of places was among the only viable options. Fortunately the hole has been filled.

The Scarface posters and Godfather slices are gone, but nice brick walls, archways and counters and friendly folks are in place at Bellagio Pizzeria (643-9500).

They had slices of cheese, pepperoni and meatlover's when a colleague and I stopped by to uptick our body sugar after giving blood at the Old Monterey Farmers Market, where the Bloodmobile parks every second Tuesday.

Their meatlover's enjoys salami, pepperoni and two types of sausage and is admittedly similar to the Godfather, but not quite on par—it could use a little more sauce. The Frank's Red Hot in the tall bottle and the seasonings come in handy.

Staffers on hand seemed more enthusiastic about baking a fresh to-order pizza than the slices, and the specialty pies ($7.99/7-inch to $27.99/18-inch with four other sizes in between) include attractions like garlic chicken combination, Tuscan veggie and a "Pisa" with mozzarella, spinach, garlic, feta, artichokes, tomatoes on a garlic/olive oil base.

There is an all-you-can-eat pizza-and-salad bar for $7.99 come lunchtime ($4.95/kids; $3.99 without salad), and perhaps most importantly, late night hours that help the drunk club monkeys sober up and the taxi drivers feed their families: the joint's open until 4am Thursday through Saturday (and 3am otherwise).

4. Seaside grub.

The inaugural Taste of Seaside hits 6-8:30pm this Friday, July 23, at the Seaside City Center.

Ventana Vineyard
, Schied Vineyard, Baywood Cellars and more wineries lubricate while ACME Coffee energizes and community classics including Turtle Bay Taqueria, Angelina’s Bakery, Pho King, Orient Express, Del Monte Cafe, Saigon Noodle, Kahn's Kabob House, Fishwife and Harumi—fresh seafood! tacos! noodles! sushi! pho!—all fill small plates with flavor for $25 that directly benefits Seaside Police Activities League.

(The International Flavors of Marina happens a day earlier. More on that here.)

5. Summertime rooftops.

The Inn at Del Monte's Wednesday dusk happy hour rocks on buoyed by bay views, DJ Sparkinsky beats, free homemade Mediterranean snacks, a fun crowd and $5 drinks.

Learn more by checking out a recent post on the sunset scene here.

6. Free lunch.

Yes, you read that right. Buy one lunch or breakfast and get one free with a printable coupon on Monterey Cookhouse's (642-9900) website. Meanwhile happy hour specials 4-6pm every day of the week: Draft beer and well cocktails run $3, hot dog and beer is $5.95, and a damn good 1/2 pound all natural hamburger with fries and a beer for $10, and by the glass wine secials.

7. Life at Esteban.

The terms were simple: Quick nibble and sipper, somewhere strategically located between Seaside and P.G. So was the answer, accordingly: Esteban (375-0176).

We lingered on the elegant patio over the complimentary (and warm) flatbread with housemade hummus, a little oil and balsamic and a robust, deep purple olive tapenade, tasting the Valencia (whiskey, raspberry and ginger beer, $8 in a pint glass), the Vega Sindora Chardonnay ($7), the seafood stew (fresh but disappointingly bland, $9, pictured below) and the spanish sausage with peppers and mashed potatoes (dynamic and delicious, $9).

Now they've got a wine dinner coming:

6:30pm Wednesday, July 28, $55, Anglim winery from Paso Robles. "Look for dishes like duck confit with peaches," Chef Thomas Snyder writes, "stuffed calamari with squid ink sauce, crab salad and leg of lamb."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fresh Chef Todd Fisher Recipe

Why is this man smiling? Because he's a funny mother f*cker who knows how to have a good time and share great food—and because he's doing just that 1pm Wednesday, July 28, at one of the newest farmers markets in the area, the Salinas Farmers Market at Natividad Medical Center (which goes 11am–4pm).

In honor of National Salad Week, Fisher's rocking his Roasted Beets in Sherry Wine Vinaigrette (serving 6). You know beets are good. And you know you wish you could do them well.

Here's the recipe—

Roasted Beets in Sherry Wine Vinaigrette

6 Lrg. Red or Golden Beets
3 cups Water
½ t Salt

In large baking dish place washed beets, water and salt. Cover with foil and roast 1-½ hours at 350°. Remove from oven and cool. Wearing gloves peel beets using two paper towels and rubbing the beets till all skin is removed and slice. Arrange on a serving platter and crumble Chevre (Goat Cheese) over the top and set aside while you prepare the Sherry Wine Vinaigrette.

2 ea Shallots minced
1 T Dijon mustard
2 t Honey
1 t Cracked black pepper
1 t Sea salt
½ cup Sherry Wine Vinegar
4 T California Olive Oil

Whisk together above ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over the sliced beets. Ooh lala!

The market is located at 1441 Constitution Blvd., outside of building 200-Out Patient Services, and is open to the public every Wednesday through Oct. 27.

There will be additional featured farmer cooking demos each month that take place during the Farmers Market at noon.

Making Better Organic Decisions

Environmental Working Group has a good handle on how to manage budget and healthy produce shopping: In short, pick your spots.

With its elegantly simple Shopper's Guide to Pesticides, EWG highlights what edible plants often need the most chemical protection to thrive, and therefore are the best places to purchase organic.

It also evokes something celebrity chef and Iron Chef champ Ming Tsai told the crowd gathered for his cooking demo at Pebble Beach Food & Wine (only seven months off!)

He was asked something to the effect of "When do you invest in purer product?" or "Do you go for organic/free-range chicken?" and he said that certain places paying a little more made a lot of difference.

"This is a place where you want to 'one-up'" he said of chicken. "Dry aged bone in ribeye can be significantly more expensive, but organic, kosher chicken might be $3.50 a pound instead of $2.50. It's worth it."

Similarly, in certain cases paying a little more for organic makes a lot of difference, and for logical reasons, some of which The Organic Center's Chuck Benbrook, who attends Asilomar's EcoFarm every year, broke down for Special Edible.

"The Dirty Dozen don't have a shell or a thick peel that's removed before they're eaten," he says. "They are vulnerable to attack from wide range of insects and plant diseases; and many are relatively short-season crops—like celery, spinach, kale—that traditionally required a lot of pesticides."

Benbrook does add that he's helping publish a report coming soon with a more sophisticated risk assessment that takes into account EPA toxicity rather than what he describes as a simpler EWG system that measures only amounts of residue.

"The biggest change is that their methodology is missing a significant shift in residues and risk with imports," he says. "American produce farmers, especially tree fruits and grapes and vegetable [growers], have reduced risk quite substantially over past decade, while they have not gone down nearly as much or have gone up in imported food.

"If we put out a comparable list, you'd see at least six imported items. Only one on that list is imported grapes. And the have domestic blueberries. We would not single out domestic blueberries."

So with that asterisk, here's the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. I'll post the new report when it becomes available.

And, yes, it's OK to cheer each time you see a fav on the clean list.

The Dirty Dozen (buy these organic)
Bell peppers
Grapes (imported)

The Clean 15
(lowest in pesticides)

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potato
Honeydew melon

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bahama Billy's New Bag

It's official. We can put the rumors to bed for at least a month or two.

Anthony Momo is out at longtime locals favorite Bahama Billy's in the Barnyard (626-0430)—and was even able to get out earlier than originally anticipating, absconding for other projects just this Monday.

In is Peninsula native Tony Loeffler, after a career working in restaurants (Ford’s Mill Steakhouse in Los Gatos being the most recent), partnering with his uncle Joe L. of Kula Ranch fame (where that "island steakhouse" is about to celebrate two years) and Sylvia Sharp, longtime local hospitality figure at Baja Cantina and Club Jalapeño.

The acquisiton represents the realization of a lifelong dream for Tony. But it carries even more weight than that for him and his family. His mother was going to help with the purchase because she knew how much it meant to him, only to fall victim to a massive—and fatal—heart attack. His father Tom went forward with the dream despite the nightmare loss of Roberta.

"The opening takes on a whole new meaning, much more significance," Tony says. "I know she’d be pleased and proud with the finished product."

Joe Loeffler says they'll keep "everything people love," including the cheesy corn bread, chopped mango salad, macadamia crusted fish, and the vast majority of the staff. The popular happy hour—which I looked at in a recent post—will also stay.

New Hawaiian carpet, interior design and bamboo walls with imbedded lighting are on the way, however, along with another firepit and fresh paint. It's scheduled to be complete in two weeks for a grand opening tentatively booked for the last weekend in July. The restaurant won't close though, thanks to early morning painting sessions and room-by-room upgrades.

For the record, Tony thinks his mom would’ve ordered a gimlet. And a fresh seafood item—maybe the coming-soon signature crab-crusted halibut.

After Midnight Action in Carmel (?!)

Typically the words "2am" and "Carmel" only appear in the same sentence in the police blotter—along with "raccoon"—so I get it if the next sentence blows a motherboard or two in the vicinity of Sleepy-by-the-Sea.

Flanagan’s Irish-American Pub (625-5500) has been holding it down until 2am tomorrow quite often. New owner Joe Opitz (below) estimates half of his first month has seen folks holding up the bar until the wee hours. Then there's this: "Although the kitchen closes at 10pm," he says, "we do have a late night menu that changes on a whim. If I can make it... I will, and the fryers always on."

I stopped by on a summer Wednesday and the place was full. Opitz and his wife/co-owner Luciana are loving having their own place after helping fly the Pelican Tavern in the American Tin Cannery (now Woody's Bayside Grill) and giving the Fuse Lounge life across the parking lot in the Carmel Mission Inn.

(Opitz says his work with the Mission Inn helped solidify his pitch with the Barnyard landlords, who he says have been very supportive; the Mission Inn, meanwhile, sends late arriving guests over if they need some sustenance after hours.)

Irish-American Opitz seems most proud of bringing the area its first Irish pub—"My mother is a Blair and a Fitzpatrick and I was named after my great-grand daddy, Joseph Fitzpatrick; the pub, however, is named in honor of my favorite watering hole in Liverpool, Flanagan's Apple"—and the double-fried fresh cut fries, which were outstanding at Pelican. In two weeks or so Opitz will be using peanut oil instead vegetable oil, which will make them even better.

The pool table is a huge addition for the Barnyard and the city. I think you have to migrate to Monterey to get the next closest game.

He and Brazilian-born Luciana are crazy for soccer so the joint had a World Cup theme going at the time.

They're open 11:30am-2am (or a touch earlier if crowds die out) daily.

Here's a look at the menu, which reads, "Welcome to Flanagan’s. We are opening with a limited edition menu as we acclimate to our new surroundings. We’d love to hear your feedback and we’ll be adding new items in the coming months. Please visit again and watch us grow!"

(I tried the crab balls, which were on par with the hardcore Maryland standards he had for his lump meat cakes at Pelican. Pitchers of Newcastle to accompany the pool game were a respectable $16. They currently have eight drafts on tap.)


Lil’ Crab Balls $8
Baltimore style wee-size crab cakes are made with Phillips crabmeat, served with tartar sauce and crackers.

Chips-Fresh Cut $4
A basket of our fresh cut chips (that’s fries for the Yanks), these babies are something to behold! Cooked in the traditional method, our desire for perfection is evident.

Buffalo Wings $7
True to their origins, these big wings flew here by way of Buffalo. Served with Blue Cheese and celery of course.

Mozzarella Sticks $6
A pub favorite, served with marinara sauce.

Chicken Tenders $7
All breast white meat breaded and served with ranch or honey mustard.

All Hail Caesar $6
Local Romaine is cut and served with house made croutons, freshly grated parmesan, and our own Caesar dressing.

Mixed Baby Greens $6
Salinas Valley’s finest blend with chopped onions, cherry tomatoes and the dressing of your choice.

The Green Monster $9
Fresh Salinas Valley spinach served with bleu cheese crumbles, diced bacon, toasted sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, and chopped onion, with a classic or raspberry vinaigrette.

Sandwiches- all sandwiches come with our fresh-cut chips

The Banger $6
Authentic UK style sausage served on a lightly toasted bun with all the fixins.

Flanagan’s Burger $9
½ lb. of fresh Angus beef is just the beginning. Comes with L.T.O. on the side. You can add cheese, bacon, or mushrooms. It’s your burger…

Reuben $9
This sandwich is packed with pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 Island dressing served on marbled rye.

All Beef ½ lb. Dog $7
Saag’s all beef hot dog is a nine incher on a lightly toasted bun. Yeah, we like’em big….Comes with the fixings.

Cali O’Club $9
This triple decker California Club is decked out with smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, lettuce, onion, mayo, and avocado. Served on toasted wheat.

Flanagan’s Fish n Chips $14
Slabs of cod deep fried in beer batter, served with our fresh cut chips.

Bangers and Mash $13
Fresh made Bangers, mashed potatoes, and our delicious gravy.

Sanddabs $15
Locals know’em (and love’em). If you’re not from these parts, it is a flat fish along the likes of a small flounder. They are tasty when lightly dredged in flour and pan-sautéed. Served with a light white sauce.

The Ribeye $19
12 ozs of pure flavor, this steak just sizzles. Cooked the way you want it, it is our pleasure to present this hand-cut Angus steak.