O and I thought we could just drop the two of them off and wander on the coast with the car until they were done but no such luck. Little did we know they were going to use a shop that only rented equipment rather than leading an excursion so they needed the car to drop them off on the beach. So O and I really only had an hour or so of free time. O was famished. She had had a nice hefty scone that morning but she was getting the empty stomach grumps. That never happens. That always happens to me. So we had to find food asap. I had no intention of eating at Bubba Gump's and did not want to eat 20$ chowder, we walked along. As I stopped at every menu along the Cannery Row, O got grumpier and grumpier. We chose Paradiso Trattoria mainly because they had a seafront view and the dude at the door offered a free Calamari appetizer for lunch.
Really all I wanted was fresh seafood, like I might have got at Fisherman's wharf. You know, affordable, off the boat and full of flavour. O wanted something fried. Well, little did I know that Cannery Row and the Aquarium make this a prime tourist area. Affordable was not on the menu. N had told us that Sardines were the local specialty. Actually, it is quite embedded in the history of the town and the Portuguese and Japanese immigrants. The Paradiso had a Sardine lunch special so it would do.
All the window seats were occupied but we sat up on the 'mezzanine' and still had a great view. The decor reminded me of one of those episodes of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. It was all pretty old fashioned Italian of the 80's, decent looking at a distance but with any tighter scrutiny looked shabby.
We started with our free Calamari. It was probably one of the nicer things we ate and that was probably due to the turnover. O ordered a cup of Chowder to start. We shared the Frito Misto and the Sardines. O was skeptical about the Sardines because she was worried about the fishiness which is common to people who only think of the canned variety. I had had some beautiful Sardines while living in Spain so I knew there was more to them.
The waiter messed up the order on the Chowder and argued with us about it. He said that we had ordered a bowl because he wrote it down. I said, it did not really matter what he wrote down, we specifically asked about the size of the cup and ordered the cup. The Chowder was fairly average and a bit gloopy.
The Sardines were fresh and I got quite a large portion. They were fried and served on a bed of Tomato Sauce. The sauce was not nice. It tasted canned and too sweet sort of like brand that rhymes with Hardy. O tried one but decided the many bones were not worth it. Those are normal and why D and I decided that the one time we bought them fresh and cooked them at home was enough.
The Frito Misto, was a mix of Fried Scallop, Calamari and Fish. It was bad. Oddly enough, the Calamari on this plate were different from the Calamari we received earlier. Rather than looking like someone cut a Squid and breaded it as it was on the appetiser, it had that rounded hoop shape. The breading was more of that breadcrumb rather than a batter. The breading tasted stale. The fries were greasy and obviously frozen bought and not made in house. The Scallops were RAW, RAW, RAW. We complained.... or rather I complained to the manager and all he did was take 10 percent of the plate and give us a free rock hard, dessert.
When D and N got out of the ocean and we met up with friends, they chose Bubba Gump because they had their kids with them. D was not happy since he hates chains but the food was much better there than it was at Paradiso Trattoria. The fries were fresh cut and the staff responsive and friendly. D did admit his Fish Sandwich at Bubba's was pretty good and I had his slaw and it was good.
Paradiso TrattoriaCost: $$-$$$
Location: Seaside, Cannery Row tourist zone
Staff: Argumentative and not customer focussed
654 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
(mainly for the great view)