In case you missed it, here are my review of Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar 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.
A couple months ago, the food service at the Monterey Plaza Hotel got a major overhaul. The Duck Club closed, reopening as an expansion of the neighboring Schooners Bistro, the two now merged into Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar, with the same nautical motif.
I finally sailed into the renovated Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar a couple weeks ago. For my first visit, a friend and I opted for a sit-down dinner in the dining room.
The burrata salad with tomatoes, balsamic syrup and shaved Fiscalini cheese ($10) wasn’t quite what I expected. From the description, it sounded like a classic caprese — what arrived wasn’t. The menu omitted the diced cucumbers, which didn’t quite jibe with the Italian flavors for me.
But I loved the plank-seared sea scallops ($10), served with a citrus salad. The scallops were perfectly cooked, with a hint of heat from the pepper glaze. The accompanying salad of grapefruit and other citrus gave a hint of tart acid.
For my entrée, I chose the pan-seared king salmon, rubbed with a flavorful Peruvian mole sauce and served over Flageolet beans and shrimp ($28).
The fish portion was a little small for the price — especially since it was the more commonplace Alaskan salmon and not local Monterey Bay salmon.
I snuck a bite of my friend’s roasted chicken ($24). The flavors were nice, but the preparation felt a little out of place for the sunny, springtime weather that evening.
With butternut squash ravioli, mushrooms, carrots and salsify root, this dish felt better suited for a brisk winter night.
We finished our dinner with the frozen peanut butter chocolate mousse ($7) for dessert.
The frozen mousse was elegantly presented in a pyramid dusted with cocoa powder. The crust underneath was a little thick, making it difficult to cut, but the flavors were spot-on.
For my second visit, I visited Schooners Bar, taking advantage of “Oysters and Pearls” — a happy hour special on Thursdays with $1.50 oysters and $4 champagne. (Schooners Bar offers different happy hour specials each weekday.)
Ironically, I didn’t partake in any oysters, but I did enjoy a nice glass of bubbly and some small bites from the bar menu.
The flight of three chowder shots — clam, roasted tomato and artichoke ($6) — let me sample the soups without committing to a full portion.
The clam chowder was a little heavy, but nicely seasoned; the roasted tomato soup tasted more like a sauce than a soup; the artichoke chowder was rather watery.
At this point, I was afraid whether the complimentary wasabi peas would turn out to be the best part of my meal.
The Medjool dates ($5) set things back on a better course. The sweet dates were wrapped in smoky pancetta and stuffed with herbed cream cheese. The menu described an accompanying honey yogurt dip, but what arrived was a bright green mint dip instead. Sadly, the dip overpowered the delicate balance of flavors.
The Schooners Sliders — two beef sliders topped with cheese, grilled onions, tomato, diced lettuce and “secret sauce” ($12) — were pretty standard bar fare. But the accompanying potato chips tasted burnt and were a major turn-off.
The scene inside the bar was rather frenzied — service was almost frantic, our server lost in the choppy seas of happy hour.
The sit-down “coastal kitchen” restaurant hosted a lovely dinner alongside the serene sunset over the bay. The servers were top-notch — attentive and helpful throughout dinner.
Schooners Coastal Kitchen offers some delicious dishes with a side order of an amazing view — a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Schooners Coastal Kitchen and Bar is located at 400 Cannery Row in Monterey. 372-2628. schoonersmonterey.com.