After a leisurely afternoon in the Cannery Row District of Monterey, we were looking forward to a great dinner. We were going to the Sardine Factory Restaurant that has not only a DiRoNA Award, but the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for its wine cellar. We were pre-sold on this establishment.
We had a reservation and they brought us to our table with the menu and one of the finest wine lists I have ever seen. I needed my classic Vermouth Cocktail while I studied this tome, which was handed to me. It could have been the telephone white pages for a small community. As I waded through the list, and reading aloud some of the great wines offered, all I could think of was where is that money tree; I have always heard about and never saw. I was a kid in a candy store, with only a dime in his pocket.
We ordered a seafood oriented dinner, which made the wine selection easier as it was only about a third of the wine list. We had ordered an appetizer of sardines, with the name of the restaurant and the fact that this is hardly ever offered, we went for it. They brought out a platter, about the size I use at Thanksgiving for the turkey that I carve filled with what seemed like an endless row of skinless and boneless sardines. The platter also had hard boiled eggs, capers and onions. We were amazed and glad that we did not order two different appetizers. By the time we finished sharing this plate, we could have been done, but we still had each ordered an entrée. To be truthful, I remember the food being excellent, but both my Bride and I can not recall the rest of this dinner, the sardine appetizer tray has been etched permanently in our memory cells.
I do remember the wine that we enjoyed from Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru “Les Fourchaumes” 1995. It was exquisite and seemed to pair with the meal, which we cannot recall. Even though Chablis is considered part of the Burgundy region, this white wine is much more crisp and dry with more of a mineral taste compared to the classic white wines of the Cote de Beaune.
After our dinner and before we enjoyed coffee and dessert, our waiter took us on a tour of the restaurant. We saw the different rooms for the diners and each room had its own décor and ambiance. He also took us in the back of the restaurant to the glass-domed Conservatory. I had never been to this restaurant, but this room created a sense of deja-vu for me. There must have been a movie that I remember from my youth that was filmed in this room, but to this day I cannot remember the film. Our waiter then took us down into the cellar and showed us a special dining area with a table so long and large, that he explained that it was actually made in the room. He also led us through the huge wine cellar that had entranced me just from reading the wine list. It was wonderful to be so close to so many great bottles of wine. This restaurant should be on your “must do” list if you get a chance to go to the Monterey area, as it is a once in a lifetime place