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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.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Niners Run With Forrest

After practicing at CSU Monterey Bay last week, the San Francisco 49ers took 138 players and staff to Bubba Gump (373-1884) for a little post practice carbo-loading.

On the strength of an insider tip alerting us to the semi-secret seating, local contractor-Niner fan Adam Serrano and I got there ahead of their reservation to secure strategic seats in the bar to soak up the proceedings without getting in their mugs.

The NFC West champs-to-be were running tardy so we figured we better settle in. A Lt. Dan's Pomegranate Punch for my friend, I told a very accomodating Diane—Pama Pomegranate liqueur, Malibu Rum, pineapple juice, cranberry and Sierra Mist in a commemorative glass ($9.95); a Delta Sunset margarita ($7.95) for me.

"This thing is pumped full of booze," Serrano said.

The Cajun shrimp ($8.99), sautéed in an addictively oily hot and spicy Cajun butter sauce with dip-ready garlic bread, seemed a must-do. Very glad we did.

And the calamari ($8.99) was surprisingly good, with fried jalapeños, bell peppers and other veggies mixed in.

(A quick note: Dishes like this speak to why the Coastal Luxury Management team gave this place careful attention before they moved Cannery Row Brewing Company here, and how it earns the respect all of the local restaranteurs, Tony Tollner included, after they have to compete with them. I still haven't discerned why the 49ers chose here to eat, though.)

For entreés, more shrimp. (You guessed it.) Like the Baja shrimp tacos ($11.50), three spicy set-ups that come either flash fried or grilled, served with Mayan salsa, avocado tomatillo salsa, and Mexican-style sour cream.

And the coconut shrimp ($17.99).

Only problem: The Niners were an hour late and I had an unmissable meeting coming down the pipe. There was only one thing to do: Order the "I'm Stuffed!" shrimp ($17.25).

Packed with crab stuffing, baked in garlic butter, and topped with Monterey jack, it's served with jasmine rice—not Jerry Rice, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame this very weekend, telling people like Serrano and I, ""I love you fans, especially the greatest fans in pro football, the 49er fans," as part of his induction speech.

Diane was kind enough to agree to deliver the stuffed shrimp to All-Pro Niner middle linebacker Patrick Willis with a personalized message. "Patrick Willis, this stuffed shrimp is for you, to help you stuff the run all year long."

Seeing as it wasn't on the luncheon menu they were served—from which insiders say there were a lot of Bubba's Bucket of Boat Trash (with deep-fried shrimp, mahi mahi topped with a steamed lobster claw and fries) and Cajun-style catfish ordered—I'm thinking it was a hit on par with the one he's laying on overmatched Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward in the above photo.

Go 52 bomber. And go Niners.