Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vineyard Bistro bolsters Carmel Valley Village squid fame

Carmel Valley may seem an unlikely place to find outstanding calamari—but the enjoyment gets even better. Check our SquidBrothers Blog comments on the Los Laureles Lodge for a great calamari steak, and now—you can add an outstanding squid sammich to Carmel Valley's tentacled laurels.

The Vineyard Bistro is another of the embarrassment of great little restaurants in sunny Carmel Valley Village—12 miles up Carmel Valley Road from Hwy 1 on Monterey Peninsula's southern side. This venerable establishment has been around under a number of monikers, but has finally settled into a comfortable identity as an informal outside/causally classy inside dining experience. We recommend squid outside in the sunshine where you can dive into one of the Monterey Peninsula's truly exceptional calamari sandwiches—lovingly referred to by SquidBrothers as "Squid Sammich"—as you may have already noticed.

Now, on to the best part. A look at the Vineyard Bistro calamari steak sandwich (around $14) comes with fries or salad. The salad is as exceptional as the ciabatta roll. The only recommendation SquidBrother Hemp would make is to ask the artists in the kitchen to hold the tomatoes and onion; it's a preference thing, of course, but they tend to distract from the more traditional (or should I say purist) taste of the delicate taste of the enormous squid steak at hand. 

Experienced calamari lovers will appreciate that the Vineyard Bistro knows the secret to a light batter that stays put through the entire experience of a squid sammich (and accompaniments) that rate a rare near-perfect SquidBrothers score. The salad of spring lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette is awesome.

So, here we go with the tentacles scale ratings: (1-10 out of 10 tentacles)

Presentation: 10
Taste and Quality 10
Service & Atmosphere: 9.5
Value: 10

Overall Squid Brothers Rating: 9.9 (Outrageously Good)

The Vineyard Bistro
6 Pilot Road 
(just off Carmel Valley Road 
at the entrance to Carmel Valley Village)
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-5020

See in the CARMEL and CARMEL VALLEY Travel App

iTunes & Google Play 5-star

SquidBrother Hemp

Be sure to send us your feedback...
You too may become a SquidBrother!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monterey Jack meets Squid Sammich at the Golden Tee!

OK, all you loyal "Squid Sammich" fans rejoyce in a new twist on a great calamari sandwich: introducing the Golden Tee at the Monterey Peninsula Airport (now, would the Squid Brothers recommend a place not worth finding?)—upstairs in the main terminal.

A picture is worth a thousand words: the perfect bun, melted Monterey Jack cheese, and generous portions of perfectly done calamari steak make this Squid Brothers experience a winner. Fries, or potato salad (this one could have been made by your aunt; the one famous for her potato salads). Full bar and views of the plateau runway above the Pacific. And validated parking right out the terminal front door! Oh, and this is not an LAX terminal; it's Monterey scale: just park and walk in.

This calamari sammich is hard to beat and, with melted Monterey Jack cheese, a new local Squid Brothers favorite. Don't let the airport location fool you; this is a really good restaurant with really friendly and helpful staff. You don't have to be flying in or out of Monterey to enjoy the Golden Tee. It's got a great Monterey Jack twist to a really good squid sammich.

The Golden Tee
200 Fred Kane Drive
Monterey Peninsula Airport Terminal
Monterey CA 93940
(831) 373-1232

Squid fans, here are the ratings—out of a total of 10 tentacles each:

Presentation: 8.0
Taste and Quality 9.0
Service & Atmosphere: 9.0
Value: 9.0
Overall Squid Brothers Rating: 8.75 (Really Good)

Squid Brother Hemp

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"First Awakenings" is King of the Calamari Breakfast!


In the American Tin Cannery
125 Ocean View Boulevard
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 372-1125

The just about perfect calamari breakfast has been confirmed. In all honesty, we Squid Brothers have known for a very long time that First Awakenings—in the old American Tin Cannery sardine can making plant in Pacific Grove just over the City line from Monterey in the Cannery Row district—has been doing a great calamari breakfast for a long, long time. So it was about time to give it the serious Squid Brothers test. The results did not disappoint.
This is one of the Monterey Peninsula's most popular restaurants on weekends and holidays around Cannery Row, and it pays to avoid the tourist traffic if you can. If not, then just hang out and know that no matter how busy they are you can be assured the calamari breakfast is as good as it gets and the wait will prove well worth it for real squid lovers.
Their squid steaks are generous and well seasoned with a batter that stays on the shingle! Here's a big Squid Brothers plus: tell your waitress (many working there for way over a dozen years—which tells you a lot about the owners and their operation) that you'd like "Craig's special double-calamari breakfast." Craig is one of the two owners (his partner, Chris, runs a great sister restaurant in Old Town Salinas near the National Steinbeck Center). For just a couple bucks more they double the huge calamari steak that pushes the cottage potatoes and toast, or English muffins, and eggs-your-way, almost off the plate!
OK, so there's lots of food and and endless pot of coffee at each table. The best part is that the calamari you came for meets the highest standards for breakfast squid anywhere we've put squid to the breakfast test so far. And I promise it will be a tough time to knock First Awakenings out of the top spot in the Squid Brothers ratings so far.
Remember, a trip to the Monterey Peninsula isn't complete for a real squid fan until you've done breakfast calamari at First Awakeings, just around the corner from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row. OK squid fans, here are the ratings—out of a total of 10 tentacles each:

Presentation: 9.5 (unpretentous value looking at y0u)
Taste and quality: 9.5
Service & Atmosphere: 9.5
Value: 10
Overall Squid Brothers Rating: 9.63
By SquidBrotherHemp

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rosine's in Monterey rules!

Lunch at Rosine's, a busy Alvarado Street landmark restaurant-cafe, is NOT TO MISS. Their calamari sandwich is the gold standard SquidBrothers "squid sammich." It's busy and noisy most of the time; renowned for it, actually—but their calamari sandwich rules and their SquidBrothers rating is in spite of it. This is just about the best calamari sandwich you can find.

A huge Sicilian seasoned squid steak, (the batter stays on the steak!) on a perfectly grilled soft roll that actually contributes to the great experience. The only condiment that comes with it (unless requested, of course) is a fabulous pesto sauce that makes the perfect compliment to the perfectly and lightly done squid steak. Salad or fries; you can order blue cheese and Italian on the side. Both generous and excellent. SquidBrothers everywhere: this is our new leader. This squid experience is not to be missed; ignore at peril to your squid satisfaction quotient.

Marks for Rosine's:

Presentation: 9 (out of ten tentacles)
Taste: 9
Service & Atmosphere: 9 though the busy, noisy envrioment is a Rosine's hallmark.
Value: 10
Overall Squid Brothers Rating: 9.3 out of ten tentacles!

By SquidBrotherHemp

434 Alvarado Street
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 375-1400

Friday, June 5, 2009

Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse

Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse is located at the Marina Sanctuary Resort, next to the Marina State Beach, just off Highway One at Reservation Road, Marina, CA.

3295 Dunes Rd
Marina, CA 93933
(831) 883-9479

Calmari Sandwich (lunchtime)

A great value at $8.95! Chose outdoor deck seating with a view of Monterey Bay & Pacific Ocean.
Choice of regular or sweet potato fries. Tangy and complex tartar sauce and sweet pototo fries dip.

These guys know how to do calamari steak. Perfectly done, uniqely seasoned; the first tase of the calamari hanging out of the bun reminded me instantly of really good abalone! The sweet potato fries, however, weren't right out of the fryer. A glass of Longboard made it all nearly perfect.

Presentation: 9 (out of ten tentacles)
Taste: 9
Service & Atmosphere: 8
Value: 10
Overall Squid Brothers Rating: 9 out of ten tentacles!

This calamari sandwich, in an Island theme restaurant, sets a new standard in our Monterey Bay area experience. The rest of their Pacific Rim menu is well worth the trip to the dunes of Marina (just north of Monterey on Highway 1).

Review by Squid Brother Hemp

Thursday, June 4th, 2009.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Willie’s Smokehouse, Cannery Row, Monterey, California

Willie's Smokehouse, Cannery Row, Monterey, California, March 2009

Calamari Appetizer (lunchtime)

For Eight Dollars it was disappointing: rather heavily breaded;
nothing special about it.

Presentation: 6
Taste 6
Service & Atmosphere 8
Overall Squid Brothers Rating: 6.7

Uninspired calamari at a restaurant that excels at many other items.
Posted by Squid Brother Hemp

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sealord Calamari Strips from New Zealand

I've been in my own personal squid drought for the last 2 months. I've run out of good local places here in Los Angeles to try new squid dishes. Los Angeles has just about any kind of food you could hope for but it can't rival Monterey county for opportunities for squid. It looks like we need to take another road trip to squidland.

Here is one from the archives. I picked up this SEALORD brand calamari chips box when I was in the Cook Islands. Even though I'm not a big fan of prepared frozen foods this was pretty good. The calamari strips were a little soggy. Next time I'd try a higher bake temp. Like beer, any squid is better than none. I rate this as a C+ or (6 tentacles, 6 out of 10).