The long wait

In case you missed it, here’s my review of new hotspot Restaurant 1833 that appeared in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald. I’ll be reposting my reviews and stories from my weekly column for the Herald here on my blog along with extra photos that didn’t appear in print.

After a yearlong delay, Restaurant 1833 finally opened its doors last Friday night.

The hype surrounding Restaurant 1833 had reached epic proportions, with every foodie in town dying to know what Coastal Luxury Management had up its sleeve. After more than a year’s wait, all was revealed on opening night Friday, and I gathered the troops for dinner to scope things out.

Chef Levi Mezick’s menu was pretty diverse. While heavy on the pork products, there were still a number of vegetarian options. And prices were on par with other local hotspots — well, except for that $200 seared lobe of foie gras.

We sampled several appetizers, entrees and desserts in an epic test of the capacity of our stomachs.

The bone marrow was a superb indulgence!

The bone marrow ($15) was easily my favorite appetizer — if not my favorite bite of our entire meal. I haven’t eaten red meat for more than 10 years now, but after my friends couldn’t stop raving about it, I broke down Friday night. OK, that bone marrow was superb!

A big chunk of bone split in two, roasted, with brioche crumbs atop the buttery smooth, juicy marrow. We gobbled up the marrow, with one of my friends doing his best cave man impression to scrape the last bit from the bone.

The crispy pork ($5) was decadent and delicious; the warm goat cheese custard ($12) was fluffy and flavorful; the caramelized endive ($6.50) was sweet yet savory.

Boneless chicken wings confit *sounded* delicious, but alas, didn't deliver.

The boneless chicken wings confit ($6.50) disappointed — only because I was expecting something with a crispy bite of skin outside.

And who says eggs are just for breakfast? The crispy hen egg (wrapped in prosciutto, breaded in panko, fried, $12) expertly combined rich prosciutto and a runny egg.

Egg dishes--like this pizza--were standouts on the menu.

The wild mushroom and prosciutto pizza ($16) was topped with three soft-poached eggs that pulled the flavors of the earthy mushrooms and salty prosciutto together. (I just wish our server had let us break the eggs ourselves — he took all the fun out of it!)

Everyone ordered a different entree and shared bites with each other.

Fish dishes, like the parmesan-crusted halibut, were a disappointment.

I had the Parmesan-crusted halibut ($25). The Parmesan and herb crust was nice, but the fish itself was overcooked and mushy. Served on a bed of flavorful farro with fava beans and colorful spring vegetables, the plate was beautifully presented.

I wish I’d ordered the roasted chicken breast (with artichokes, bacon, black garlic and Arbol chili, $23). The chicken was juicy and tender, and the skin crunchy and crispy.

I was underwhelmed by my bite of much-hyped bacon-wrapped sturgeon ($25); I just didn’t find bacon-wrapped whitefish all that unique.

The dessert menu included an eclectic selection, and it was refreshing to see it wasn’t just packed with chocolate cakes and creme br lée. (And if you’re a fan of either, don’t worry, they’re still on the menu.)

The apple tartin (with vanilla bean ice cream, $8) fell short of my expectations — I wanted the apples to be more tender. The vanilla salt was a nice touch, but I got more than a couple large bites of rock salt, which overpowered the delicate sweetness of the apples.

The almond gatâu (with cherry marmalade and butter pecan ice cream, $8) was easily the best dessert. The inside of the gateâu was smooth as silk and packed with almond flavor.

The atmosphere was as impressive as the food. It’s a maze inside with lots of nooks and crannies. The rooms were dark and intimate, with the gentle pulsing of French club music.

Co-ed bathrooms sparked much debate at our table. Ladies and gents commingle in a bathroom with individual (locked) stalls and a communal sink.

These shared bathrooms might be an unwelcome change for some — especially after the late-night crowd gets some libations in them.

Restaurant 1833 presented an impeccable performance on opening. However, I lauded the Cannery Row Brewing Co. with similar praise on opening — and a year later, the quality and value of the food there has declined significantly.

Will Restaurant 1833 suffer the same fate? They’ve set a pretty high bar — but can they keep up with expectations? And they’ve still got big plans: The lunch menu will be rolling out in a month or so, and a weekend brunch a couple weeks later.

Only time will tell.

Restaurant 1833, 500 Hartnell St., Monterey. 643-1833, www.restaurant1833.com

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