Friday, March 12, 2010

Monterey Restaurant: LALLAgrill and Monterey Crepe Company by Lauren from 32 Above

posted by Lauren of 32 Above

What: LALLAgrill
Where: 1400 Del Monte Shopping Center, Monterey, CA
When: Mon-Sun 11am-11pm

I am so thrilled to be posting on HHH! I love all of Katie and Kelly's posts, especially the how-to ones they have started adding. I believe I was the first official follower of this blog, but I am not sure. If you are following anonymously, please don't! Follow them publicly!  

Anyways, when Katie told me that she'd be coming down to Monterey to visit during her spring break, I got very excited. She took it to a whole new level when she suggested doing a blog swap! In college, each visit I made to Portland included a trip to at least one fabulous restaurant. A few favorites include Sagittarius and Por Que No. Now it was my turn to find a restaurant gem to take her to.

I googled and yelped various places, but eventually I went with my roommate Sarah's suggestion of LALLAgrill. She lauded their drink selections and told me how it had been the perfect pick for her 21st birthday dinner. After Katie arrived, the three of us made the short drive from Seaside to Monterey's Del Monte Shopping Center.

As mentioned on their website, "LALLAgrill offers a totally 'MOD' dining concept that encourages guests to linger and indulge in California’s finest food, wine and spirits. LALLAgrill’s concept revolves around the meaning of the word 'fresh' and fresh ideas can be found in every aspect of this restaurant —from its architectural and interior design to its fresh, organic and house-made menu items."

The menu included casual, California cuisine as well as an assortment of small plates and bigger entrees. They claim to have "fresh, never frozen [ingredients and] local, organic fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs picked from the restaurant's garden wall."

While reading through the extensive drink menu, we ordered the grilled garlic cheese bread, which is freshly made on the premises. 

LALLA's has a gorgeous, 20 foot tall, full spirits bar that offers martinis, fruit-infused specialty drinks, 8 beers on tap, house-made Sangria, and 40 different house wines. 

Our drink choices:   

Lauren- The Paloma: tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, soda water

Katie- MOD Mojito: mojito with house-infused pineapple rum and cinnamon 

Sarah- LALLAjito: mojito with vanilla rum 

After tasting them all, I'd suggest going with the mojito bearing the LALLA name. It was deliciously easy to drink. It seemed a bit sweeter than Katie's MOD Mojito, probably due to the vanilla flavors? My drink was good and strong, the tequila jumped out at me! In a good way!

For food, we settled on:

Goat Cheese Ravioli: House made with a crushed tomato sauce ($8)

Crab Cakes: Panko crusted sweet crab served with mango salsa and wild rice ($11)

Strawberry Salad: Mixed organic greens with feta, candied pecans, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, sweet onions, dried cherries, and escabeche with raspberry vinaigrette ($7)

Hold on one second as I swipe away the drool landing on my keyboard. Just thinking about those goat cheese raviolis gets my salivary glands all fired up! I love it when you can tell that you are eating fresh pasta! Too many restaurants do not take the time to create their own pasta noodles. The strawberry salad was fresh and delicious. However, it is only 1 of their 13 decadent choices. How does this one sound: Pistachio Crusted Chicken Salad (Chicken breast strips rolled in pistachio nuts and grilled, served on a bed of mixed organic greens, roasted onion, granny smith apples, dried cranberries and cherries, and crumbled goat cheese tossed in a honey mustard dressing for $12). So many reasons to give LALLA's another visit!

LALLAgrill also has a huge outdoor patio with a "living wall, a water fall and an outdoor fireplace with lounge area." On a warm afternoon I'd love to come back to LALLA's, sip on a LALLAjito, and sample more of their yummy cuisine. The patio is covered by a large, tent-like structure and there are heat lamps for colder nights.

What: Monterey Crepe Company
Where: 321 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA

Hoping to catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood, we drove over to Whole Foods after dinner. Unfortunately they were closed! This meant no Clint AND no visit to the Whole Foods bakery. Planning to show Katie what downtown Monterey looks like (FYI - downtown is NOT Cannery Row), I headed towards Alvarado Street. When passing Monterey Crepe Company, my car broke down! Just kidding. The truth is that I've been wanting to hit up this creperie since last December, when I tried to convince my sister to go halvsies with me. (She refused, some sort of crepe aversion.)

The three of us walked in to an almost empty Monterey Crepe Co. Lucky for us they stay open pretty late! We ordered the King Zakara, a crepe with nutella, strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream ($7.75). Those are my four favorite crepe ingredients BTW. Snippity snappity that crepe made my stomach smile for hours! The crepe was gooey and the fruit oozed out in plentiful clumps. Shoot! More drool on the keyboard!

They offer both sweet and savory crepes, paninis, ice cream, coffee, and tea. Apparently many Crepe Co customers have had a less enjoyable experience, including long lines and poor customer service. We had no issues at all. Have any of you been to either of these fine establishments? Would any of you like to? I want to go back to both... Tonight!

Thanks to the Happy Hour Honeys for letting me take over on this post, and thanks to Katie for visiting!