• Food For Thought

    Giving Thanks to Those Who are Open and Serving Turkey!

    by Dorothy Maras-Ildiz

    Turkey here, Turkey there…turkey, turkey everywhere ….well, almost.  Trends in Thanksgiving dining habits have shifted dramatically in the past few decades.  Back in the day, you’d be hard-pressed to find any restaurant open on Thanksgiving Day with the exception of maybe Denny’s or Sambo’s  ( remember them ? ) and a couple of out-of-the-way Chinese places. Families gathered around the Norman Rockwell-esque dining room table, squished in on odd chairs and maybe a piano bench to make room for everyone and there was always the ubiquitous ‘kids table’ off in the Siberian corner of the room.

    The ‘good silver’ and never-before -seen china made their way to the lace table clothed table along with great grandma’s candlesticks and the giant, ugly turkey shaped platter.   Dad broke out the Hamilton Beach electric knife to slice the still steaming bird in a rare display of domesticity and Mom whisked away at what she hoped would be ‘lump-free’ gravy.  Then all hell would break lose – Crazy Uncle Ed and Auntie Mary Jane always had a little too much to drink and knocked over a few wine glasses, which proceeded to tip over great Grandma’s candlesticks which ignited the lace tablecloth which proceeded to begin to flambé the ugly turkey platter, prior to being doused out by Mom’s lump-free gravy. Meanwhile the Siberian Kids Table remained accident free.  Good times were had by all.

    Restaurants have aggressively stepped in to resolve this problem as well as the fire dangers, and alleviated the need to source, shop, and plan, cook, clean up and douse table-top fires. All the consumer is left to do is figure out which place they’d like to go and pick up the phone to make a reservation. No fuss, no muss, no fire.

    Below are a few brilliant options located close by:

    Fandango 831.372.3456 Open 12-7:30 PM www.fandangorestaurant.com .  Pre-fixe Four Course Thanksgiving Day menu 34.95 adults, 16.50 Children.

    Asilomar Conference Center 831.372.8016 Open 2pm 6pm www.visitasilomar.com  Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner – 42.00 + tax + 10% Service Fee Adults, Children (Ages 5-11) 21.00 + tax + 10% Service Fee.  Seriously…this is what the website states…this is one of those confounded ‘word problems’ you never liked in school.

    Maxs Grill 831.375.7997 Open 4pm 9pm  www.maxgrill.com Serving Three Course Thanksgiving dinner with many options to select from 32.95 Adults and Children Under 12 – 18.00 ( and the remaining math is done by the establishment at the end of your meal ! )

    NEW! NEW! NEW! In P.G .

    Jeninni kitchen + bar 831.920.2662 Open 12 pm -7pm Thanksgiving Day www.jeninni.com  please check their website for the Thanksgiving menu details.  This very promising and so far, well received place located at 542 Lighthouse Ave., in Pacific Grove is going to not only knock the socks off of your taste buds, but it will hit a culinary homerun, kick the extra point following a touchdown and shoot a 3 pointer with nothing but net from the half-court line.  Chef Jeffrey Weiss and gracious host/owner Thamin Saleh are a formidable team, to say the very least.

    Great P.G. Restaurants Closed on Thanksgiving, but open day before, day after and mostly every other day of the year.

    Passionfish, The Beach House at Lovers Point, The Red House Café, Fifis Café and many, many others.


    Now Closed.Not Surprised

    There is the distinct smell of death that takes over a restaurant when it is ‘time’.  The grim reaper has sharpened his scythe and stands waiting by the door for the inevitable death knell to toll, so he can walk in and finish it off – quickly.  The RGR (Restaurant Grim Reaper) has taken another swipe at P.G’s restaurant scene.  Not unexpectedly, the reaper preys upon the weak, the forlorn, the lost and the crippled. They are easier to catch.  So, with that – we say goodbye to Breaker’s Café / Sushi Noodle Bar in the Forest Hill Center.

    At one time you couldn’t find a seat at Breaker’s Café on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  People sat on the wookity benches outside waiting to be seated. Once inside they enjoyed large, steaming hot plates of hotcakes and eggs, served by John Stidham and his crew of pros. Then it was sold…and things slowly changed.  The food wasn’t so large, tasty or hot, but the prices remained ‘up there’.  Slowly, the herds of customers thinned out to just a trickle of a couple of wayward stalwarts coming in to sit at ‘their place’ at the counter over a cup of Joe.   Following that came the recent ‘sort-of’ re-formatting of the place into a sushi/noodle bar. Mostly, that involved just changing the signage and little else. Seriously…if we don’t trust you to make eggs and hash browns, do you think we will be gung-ho to try out some raw fish at your sorta new place? Nope. Not me and obviously not anyone else either.

    So, farewell Breaker’s Café/Sushi Noodle Bar.  I hope you morph into something fabulous in the future. The market is here. The people are waiting, but you’ve got to DELIVER THE GOODS or the Restaurant Grim Reaper will reappear with his shiny scythe ready to whirl.


    Gift CardsIt is what we really want for Christmas

    Please spare your friends, the kid’s teachers, the boss and co-workers from the recycled, re-gifted kiwi scented candles, boxes of bloomed (old) chocolate candies and god-forsaken fruitcake/door-stops.  Instead, give them what they really would like to have and will use; A gift card to one of your favorite local restaurants.  Any denomination will do. You don’t have to buy them a five-course meal and a bottle of ’85 Margaux.  Enclose it in a nice card and add in a list of your favorite dishes to order, just for fun.  It will appreciated far more than an ugly tie, bad perfume or some kitschy thing on the clearance aisle.

    Most, if not all restaurants will happily issue either a gift certificate or gift card.  Call your favorite place today and make everyone’s holiday a happy one.



    Inside the mind of a restauranteur

    by Dorothy Ildiz

    Now and Then…

    When you least expect it, a column will actually write itself.  I thought I would share this exchange of e mails between my dear friend and first time business owner, Tamie Aceves, of Crema in Pacific Grove which has just celebrated its’ first year in business. As all restaurateurs are aware …that first year is the worst year. The honeymoon is short-lived and the unexpected is the norm. Tamie and I have been walking through her first year together and she has just reached that point where you feel as if you truly have a handle on the damned thing…. Please enjoy this hilarious insight into what a restaurateur feels and thinks about their world. From: Tamie
    To: dorothy maras
    Sent: Tue, Oct 1, 2013 6:05 pm
    Subject: sooooo. . . .

    What a queer thing to feel so exhausted and so energized at the same time.    I have gone through, cleaned and organized every space in my kitchen, every shed every storage space.

    I know how many staplers we own (7), how many sugar free caramel monin syrups (15-more than we will use in 4 years, keep that in mind if you order it in 2017), I know that we have 8 bottles of nut oil (4 open which are probably about to go bad), I know every spice and chili pepper we have (6 varieties of dried pepper). . .

    I know every utensil and serving piece, every piece of equipment.  I know that I can get a giant can of pineapple at Smart & Final for less than the cost of two small cans at the grocery store.

    I know that I have a loyal staff that loves me. . .and I know that leaving the office to check up on one of my staff members; who celebrated a year of sobriety last month, who calls in sick  the day after her boyfriend breaks up with  her. . .and hugging her as she tells me how hard it is not to use is one of the most important things I did over the past two years. . . Though the fact that I have created an amazing wedding weekend for 40 couples over the past year and a half feels pretty special to me too.

    I know that I am a certifiable restaurant geek because I get a rush from the smell of sanitizer. . .and that having a bottle of that and a clean bar rag. . .ahhhhh,  the process of cleaning my prep tables always lifts my spirits.

    I know that I love what I do.  It is so freaking awesome to have someone in my life who loves this crazy world as much as me.

    that’s all xo T

    From: Dorothy

    To: Tamie

    Sent: Tues. October 2, 2013 9:35 AM

    Ohhh Tamie,

    Awww yes,that brief respite between chaotic moments….congratulations on finding all 7 of your staplers. This is indeed vital to any operation of any quality. In the event of a sugar-free caramel monin syrup crisis, I will keep your number under emergency contacts in my phone. You just never know when someone will require an IV of that stuff to sweeten up their disposition, right?

    Please test the nut oils for rancidity and proceed accordingly. Google “What to do with lots of Nut Oils” and see what comes up. Maybe, some sort of stocking stuffers??

    Hugs are vitally important for all staff members (and yourself as well). They go a long, long way in quelling the demons that possess us at times. She will remember that hug for a lifetime, as will you. 40 couples are indeed lucky to have you at the helm of their nuptials. Hopefully, they will all remain married, but if not…..repeat business is never ‘a bad thing’.

    Now, about that sanitizer scent…you are indeed a restaurant geek. However, there are different levels of accomplishment in the world of geek-dom.

    1. General sanitizer geeks- G.S. is their proper designation- i.e. windex and a bar towel.

    2. Advanced sanitizer geeks- or A.S.G. – those who thrive on getting their high from things like – bar keepers’ friend, brasso and kitchen degreasers.

    3. Master sanitizer geeks – M.S.G. for short (and you thought this stood for monosodium glutamate..ha !)  – for the truly twisted who enjoy the distinct scent of enzymes eating away at the swill that lives in restaurant grease traps. Now, that is truly SICK.

    So, as you can see you have a few more levels to climb in your progress to M.S.G. I have faith that you will climb this mountain, just as you have scaled the small hills, deep valleys, endless crevasses and forged the rushing rivers of the first year restaurateur. Congratulations and keep your waders water-tight.

    xoxo D

    3. Master sanitizer geeks – M.S.G. for short (and you thought this stood for monosodium glutamate..ha !)  – for the truly twisted who enjoy the distinct scent of enzymes eating away at the swill that lives in restaurant grease traps. Now, that is truly SICK.

    So, as you can see you have a few more levels to climb in your progress to M.S.G. I have faith that you will climb this mountain, just as you have scaled the small hills, deep valleys, endless crevasses and forged the rushing rivers of the first year restaurateur. Congratulations and keep your waders water-tight.

    xoxo D

    The Beach House at Lovers Point Makes Her Debut

    by Dorothy Maras-Ildiz

    Finally, everyone can stop asking that infernal question “When is the Beach House going to open?” The old gray gal is open, up and running like a champion filly with carrot dangling in front of her nose. Making her debut just two short weeks ago, The Beach House has been jam-pack full of the curious, the hungry and of course…those damned critics. Read more…»

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    This is the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card for Monterey Peninsula beaches, which reports water quality grades, or when relevant, weather advisories. An A to F grade is assigned based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location. Look at the "dry" grade for all days except those "wet" days during and within 3 days after a rainstorm. Click here for more information on the Beach Report Card. Click the name of the beach when it pops up for more details, or choose a beach below.

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