Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christopher’s On Lincoln

Carmel by the Sea at Christmas is something worth experiencing. At night Christmas lights, licked by fog, strung around funky shaped architecture up and down its winding roads is really magic. Wondering down Ocean Avenue listening to chatter from restaurants and the sound of the ocean in the background completes the scene.

I had the opportunity to recommend some local restaurants to a group of about 70 from US Foodservice San Francisco last weekend, and among others I recommended Christopher’s On Lincoln in Carmel.

Chef/Owner Christopher Caul opened his namesake restaurant in early 2004. I knew Christopher from when he was working with Jon Kasky and Nancy Rohan at Paradise Catering in Carmel Valley. Before that he had owned and two or three restaurants as well as doing time as a Chef at Pebble Beach.

I’ve been to Christopher’s many times and, most recently was there during the soft-shell crab season. Chef does great things with soft-shells. I also love to be surprised with the risotto of the day. Being only open for dinner allows Chef to spend the morning shopping for fresh, local ingredients before heading to the kitchen to work on the specials of the day.

Not only did I get to refer Christopher’s last weekend, but I was invited to dinner with the Steve and Melody O’Shea group of 13!

We were one of the earlier dinners to arrive at the restaurant at a few minutes after 6pm, and were seated at the very back wall of the restaurant, that probably seats about 65 or so people maximum. Within the next hour every seat in the house was full.

Our server was attentive and professional, up selling but not pushy. “Shall I bring you two bottles of wine or just one?” We started off with some of Christopher’s favorites Pan-Fried Green Tomatoes with basil, parmesan, romano, roasted garlic & fresh Tomato sauce, Butternut Squash Ravioli with brown butter and fresh sage.

The menu features 13 entrees and 11 salads and starters. His tequila and lime cured salmon is nearly legendary. But it is hard to order off the menu when he has 6 or 8 “house specials on any given night. I ordered the Loch Duart Salmon prepared like the swordfish, just like my server suggested, with French lentils, apple-wood smoked bacon, wild mushrooms & braised greens. The Braised Niman Ranch B.B.Q. Beef Short Ribs with roasted garlic mashed potatoes & braised red cabbage would have been my second choice, but since David Bates Business Development Manager ordered that, and his plate was within forks length I figured I could steal a bite or two by distracting him with the ever popular “look isn’t that Clint Eastwood” ruse.

As we finished dinner and waited for dessert the O’Sheas had most of the table trying to perform cork magic tricks, and hanging spoons from their noses like we were in someone’s home rather than the middle of a restaurant.

Chef Chris came out several times to make sure his guests were enjoying themselves; he need not have been concerned. Eating at Christopher’s is like hanging out with friends at Chris’ place, enjoying something he whipped up after a find at the farmer’s market. And I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic cocktails.

Get to the Monterey Peninsula for the holiday’s and put Christopher’s On Lincoln on the “to do” list.

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