This weekend, my husband and I had a romantic getaway to Carmel, California. Carmel-by-the-Sea, to be more specific. We stayed at the Asian influenced and stylish Tradewinds Hotel, shopped the tree-lined streets, hiked at nearby Point Lobos and enjoyed the many fine dining restaurants that this upscale community has to offer. One of these restaurants was Grasing’s, owned by the talented and reknowed chef Kurt Grasing and located at 7th and Mission, right downtown. It is across from the local fire station.(which was thankfully quite quiet on Friday evening!)
Carmel is about as “California” as California gets. The pristine cobblestone streets are lined with cozy storefronts and pictureque houses with sloping roofs and loads of quaint charm. The soothing sound and salty smell of the ocean is always present and the people look wealthy, tan and healthy. Everything is expensive and lovely but ever so laid back.
Grasing’s manages to capture this essence of “California” and of Carmel. It is upscale fine dining in a relaxed, laid back atmosphere. There is no pretention here, just wonderfully prepared food in a warm and inviting atmosphere. The inside feels like the living room of a house. It has tables covered in crisp white cloths and warmly painted walls adorned with colorful artwork. There is a lovely back patio that offers al fresco dining.
We were a party of four and each of us enjoyed our meal. Some of the standouts were the crispy calamari with leek rings and basil aioli. The sauce was tangy and the calamari was well cooked with a light crunchy exterior. The abalone was also outstanding. It is easy to overcook this delicate seafood and make it rubbery. They managed to keep it light and chewy and perfectly seasoned. The wine list is extensive and has many great California selections. The menu items were fresh and tasty with an eye towards local ingredients and sustainable practices.
We enjoyed our dinner thoroughly and I would definitely return again. The best part is its central location that allowed me to work off some of those calories by walking back to my hotel!