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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.

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.