December 10, 2007

Disappointment: Duartes

Guy Fieri recommended it.

Diners/Drive-ins/Dives Episode DV0204 focused on local flavors, and one of Guy's stops was Duarte's, a century old tavern turned restaurant on the Northern California coast with a focus on fresh, local flavors. The segment highlighted the restaurant's artichoke soup, calamari, abalone, and crab cioppino. We were intrigued.

Thanksgiving weekend found us with a bit of free time, so we decided to make the drive over to the coast. Along with hundreds of other Northern Californians in search of the area's best Christmas trees. We stopped at La Nebbia Winery in Half Moon Bay to stretch our legs and regain some sanity -- and discovered a lovely orange muscat in the process.

We pulled into Pescadaro a bit after 2 and learned we'd have an hour to kill before we could get a table. We wandered through a half dozen antique shops and a really fun old-world grocery store building up an appetite.

After all that, Duarte's was more than a bit of a disappointment. The early November oil spill in the bay meant that the crab in the cioppino was coming from Washington, so we weren't as willing to endure another 45 minute wait for that specialty. The artichoke soup was good enough, but we were actually far more impressed with the cream of green chile variety. And if this was Guy's idea of top-notch diner calamari, we've got to get the man educated. Eight wedges of greasy, over-breaded rubbery squid with a side of ketchup wasn't worth the $10 we paid. Since the cioppino was out, we opted to split the special sandwich of the day, an abalone club. A thin strip of abalone breaded and fried (far more carefully than the calamari) slapped between two slices of lightly toasted bread and a pile of Sysco fries. For $20.00. In retrospect I wish I'd chosen the crab, even if it did hail from out of state. In the end, the best thing to grace our table was the fresh-baked sourdough bread.

We closed the afternoon with a visit to Santa Cruz's eclectic Bonny Doon Winery where again we were drawn to the dessert wines.

We'll be enjoying the wines long after the Christmas tree's gone...

Duarte's Tavern | 202 Stage Road, Pescadero, CA | 650.879.0464
7:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. Daily (Closed New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas)

A year ago today, I had some fun with word association.

Technorati Tags: