This is what I call a family affair. Both owners Bill and Sue Karaki have their own love story, and you can feel it in every bite. They both came from Beirut, Lebanon and are now raising their 4 kids here in Pacific Grove.
The majority of Taste Café’s customers are regulars who either have Pebble Beach summer homes or are locals from Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach. Some of their other regulars visit from Texas 3 to 4 times a year. But everyone says the same thing, great local neighborhood food! They have won numerous awards which you can see in the hallway, and all very well deserved.
Here’s what I tried:
Artichoke soup Puree, completely vegan and very tasty.
Caesar Salad with Grilled Salmon. This is all about the dressing, and when I asked about the recipe they said it’s a family recipe that they don’t share.
Chicken Apple Sausages with grilled, braised red cabbage, au gratin potatoes and red onion marmalade. This dish is something you would find in Vienna or Hungary. It is very Eastern European, and the fact that you can get this here in Pacific Grove is very remarkable. The potato is enough on its own, but then you get these sausages, oh my.
Grilled Eggplant Napoleon grilled eggplant topped with roasted red pepper & fresh mozzarella cheese on a large brioche crouton, caramelized red onion, pesto, and balsamic vinaigrette. This is a nice hearty salad that you could order as your lunch entree. It has amazing Italian flavors and is excellent.
Mediterranean Crab Cake with roasted red pepper aioli, frisee and caramelized onions. The big lump crab is delicious. This is what I am talking about!
Mushroom Bourguignonne baked in garlic herb butter and pine nuts. Think escargot without the snails, instead lovely flavorful mushroom and garlic. All of this is served in a baked escargot dish.
Butterscotch pudding with cream, the best pudding ever, so rich and smooth and the flavor will make you very happy.
Chardonnay – Raywood, CA. Drink this wine with the Caesar and salmon salad. It paired great with the robust dressing and the elegant salmon seasonings.
Chardonnay – Silvestri – Carmel Valley. Nice local wine with a very buttery taste. I would do this with the crab cakes.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Raywood, CA. I would drink this wine with the Mushroom Bourguignonne, it just works well with the mushroom flavors.
Malbec Santa Julia – Mendoza. Rich in its berry color, a little dryer then most, but worked great with the sausages.
Interior has a very bistro feel, with paver tiles and faux painted walls. There are cloths hanging over the light fixtures to give it a café feel. The green banquets with the baskets on top of the windows make for a casual design element. The lion fountain gives you a peaceful sound with the water cascading in its small container.
All food is 100 percent sustainable and produce is all-organic from their local farmers market. You can taste their commitment to freshness in every bite.
Sue cooks at home and spends time with their kids when they’re off on Sundays and Mondays. Bill says: “I promoted Sue to be 100 percent boss and that took care of everything.” The family takes a vacation once a year, and closes shop in June to go back to their homeland. This is really the only vacation they have all year since they man this ship all by themselves. Taste Café has been in business for 18 years, and it was just a small cafe small, then they expanded in 1998.
Great food at a great price in a local neighborhood, this is the kind of spot I could get very used to.
Taste Café & Bistro
1199 Forest Ave.
Pacific Grove, CA. 93950