Road Trippin' - Restaurant 1833 | Well Worth the Trip to Monterey

1833 from the street
April 25, 2012

Strolling the quiet and unassuming side streets of Monterey, one could easily miss the masterpiece of a restaurant that is 1833. With its intriguing antiquity and the vibrancy of a prohibition era fling, Restaurant 1833 certainly lives up to its motto -  “Not just a place to dine, but a place to experience…” 

Restaurant 1833 truly is more than just a restaurant.  As one explores the mansion’s dimly lit rooms, each is more extravagant and uniquely designed than the next.  With fire lit rooms donning vintage chandeliers, to rooms fit for a soiree of larger groups, to the intimate club-style booths perched in the balcony above the spirited bar scene – a bar modeled after the pharmacy that once resided in the house - there isn’t a bad seat in the stock.  Peak around, explore the romantically, eerie, and artfully decorated rooms, and settle into your own lair for a meal that’s to die for, and cocktails worthy of the gods.

Best. Biscuits. Ever!
The food will bring you on a fascinating wild-ride, with beautiful, fresh, and interesting ingredients, and masterful preparation.  Restaurant 1833 has truly mastered its craft – and they’ve only been open a little over a year – promising only improvements.  It is no wonder that Restaurant 1833 was recently nominated for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation – quite the honor!

The menu at 1833 is more diverse than the rooms in which you may dine, ranging from small bites to pizzas, from whole roasted lobes of foie gras (while it lasts?), to potato crusted snapper.  Let the belt loose, and the adventure begin!

We began with the crispy hen egg ($13): a poached egg wrapped in prosciutto, Panko crusted, and flash fried, set atop asparagus dripping in hollandaise and accompanied by mixed greens.  Hours after my food coma had already set in, I perked up in bewilderment: “How on earth did they cook that egg so perfectly, so that the yolk delicately leaked out, melding with the hollandaise, while the maintaining its crisp exterior???”  It must’ve been made with a sous vide immersion circulator. A-mazing!

I was stunned at the sight of the charred octopus ($14), a single tentacle laid elegantly over a bed of Marcona almonds, arugula, bell peppers, and fresh green olives, atop a smear of flavorful romesco.  The crunch and saltiness of the almonds and fresh olives combined with the tender octopus was a combination I’d never think to create, and one I’ll never forget.

Then bone marrow! Bubbles were being burst left and right! Served in the bone, Restaurant 1833’s buttery marrow with hints of horseradish is coupled with roasted garlic and crunchy, grilled sour dough ($16), an appetizer I haven’t seen on a menu, and one that I’d travel back to Monterey for. 

The meal was more impressive and delicious with each course (if that’s even possible after that hen egg!).  One bite of the gnocchi, served with swiss chard, chanterelles mushrooms, pickled onions, parmesan cream, and rustic house-made croutons, and we each sat back and just looked at each other in awe ($22).  The creamy, pillowy-light gnocchi were so fluffy and flavorful, accentuated with the acidity of the onions and complimented by the crunch of the garlicky croutons made for the best gnocchi dish I’ve ever had.  (Sorry La Mela of Little Italy, Manhattan. West coast wins again!).

After indulging in all of this food, you could imagine my surprise when a chef came to my table with a whole chicken on a huge frying pan! “Is this pleasing to you, Miss?” Um, yes! The whole roasted truffle chicken ($38), moist and truffle-y like I like it, returned to the table quartered, and accompanied by yet another smorgasbord of sides!  We had the mac and cheese and cheese (and cheese and cheese and crispy bread crumb top!) ($5); roasted cauliflower with pine nuts ($5); more fresh and crispy asparagus; and my date’s favorite of the night: bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter ($4).  If you find yourself at Restaurant 1833 with heartwarming bourbon and in need of a chaser, do yourself a favor and allow yourself the pleasure of these comfortingly fluffy and flavor-packed biscuits. Mmmmmm.

When presented with the dessert menu I had to turn my eyes – the thought of ingesting anything more was beyond me.  Well, the thought of ingesting absinthe wasn’t too far-fetched, so we embarked on a historical journey with the guidance of our amazing server, and rather than enjoying absinthe in the classic style of dripping ice water over a sugar cube, we ventured to try the Russian/Czech “Pyro” style: by igniting the fumes, inhaling them through a straw, and chasing with your choice of twenty-something selections of absinthe.  We opted for the Mansinthe, developed by Marilyn Manson, distilled from neutral grain alcohol and herbs, and made in Switzerland.  Although we didn’t see any little green fairies flying around, the experience was a magical finale to a supernatural evening!

If you find yourself in Monterey, forget about the aquarium or the wharf, get yourself to Restaurant 1833!

500 Hartnell Street, Monterey, California 93940
(831) 643-1833