Shiho Fukushima, The Monterey County Weekly
Before Beach House at Lovers Point opened for business, surviving an inhuman wait period thanks to ADA and other permit delays, its team had plenty of time to talk a lot about how they’d strive to be a locals-oriented establishment in a place that could easily target tourists and tack on a few bucks for its prime location.
It wasn’t talk.
Take their Sunset Suppers, well-portioned entrees for $9.90. Add a soup, salad or a glass of house wine or beer for another $2.90 if you are seated by 5:30pm and order by 6pm.
The suppers include rigatoni with garlic cream sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, shallots and Parmesan cheese; sole almondine, a grilled fillet with lemon butter sauce, wild rice pilaf, toasted almonds and green beans; and panko-crusted chicken breast with “smashed” potatoes, garlic spinach and rosemary jus.
We enjoyed the flame-broiled pork loin chop supper – tender and juicy atop Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and topped with an electric medley of pink and purple braised red cabbage and apples. The French cider sauce rounded out this eye-catching dish with a wonderful thick consistency from apples, not flour. Brilliant.
I learned that from our server Donna, who “Rock”-ed – which fits, as that’s also her last name. A hospitality natural, she is well-versed with the menu and its ingredients. Another fitting element: The young, attractive co-executive chefs that run the Lovers Point kitchen are lovers, and soon to be married. Briana Sammut is a local native comfortable with California comfort cuisine; her partner Guillame D’Angio is from Marseille, Provence, studied and worked in Paris, and provides a world of pastry expertise. Jeremy Phillips is the general manager, guided by his father Kevin, a master manager with years of experience overseeing several local restaurants (including Abalonetti) and also a managing partner along with longtime area restaurant-maker Jim Gilbert.
One of Rock’s recommendations was a grilled Alaskan salmon filet ($18 after 6pm), nicely charred and sitting on a bed of forbidden (black) rice with a garlic spinach saute in a lemony beurre blanc sauce. The salmon was firm with a nice kiss of smokiness, a deal for under $20, and the rice was a nice surprise, moist and having absorbed the lemon butter sauce, giving it a tropical essence.
The bacon-wrapped meatloaf ($15.90 after 6pm) has proved one of the most popular dishes so far. It comes with a crown of fried onions, butter braised carrots, smashed potatoes and a mushroom gravy – and pairs nicely with the house red wine ($4.75) from Sycamore Lane, which does wine solely for restaurants so house wines don’t have to be iffy. Not a bad idea from Napa’s Trinchero family, who knows a thing or two about wine. The flourless mushroom gravy stood out and balanced out the slightly overpowering cumin in the loaf. They are ahead of the game in creating food that everyone can enjoy, even those with a restricted diet.
Bread arrives once diners are seated, a rustic ciabatta from Golden Sheaf Bread Company, soft and airy in the middle with a crusty outside. The Caesar ($7.90) is similarly delightful and simple, in keeping with their nothing-too-chic-chic approach, a conscious departure from the property’s days as the fancy Old Bath House. Nevertheless, there’s a butter-roasted lobster tail ($32/one half pound tail; $58/two) and a ribeye with Parmesan fries, garlic spinach and hotel butter ($27). On the first of two visits, my gentleman friend and I went for the center cut filet mignon with a lobster tail ($54). The tail was smaller than ones I’m used to and a swim in drawn butter helped bring out a sweeter flavor, while green peppercorn sauce gave the steak the zing it needed.
The welcoming, spacious dining room and its full bar, heated patio, natural light and a 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and neighboring Victorian style homes – which scream Pacific Grove – also serve a lot of other reasonably priced appetizers. Those include the garlicky and steaming escargot ($9); the flagship firecracker shrimp (small crispy shrimp tossed in a spicy cream sauce, named for the Feast of Lanterns, $8.90); fresh oysters ($12.90 for six); locally sourced Sicilian sausage ($8) grilled and served atop lentis; clams and mussels Pernod ($12.90); salmon rillettes ($11.90); and even steak tartar ($11.90). Oysters roasted in a garlic-dill butter ($11.90) were good but could use a bit more oomph. Scallops crudo ($11) call me toward my next visit.
In short, there’s something for everyone, like the spaghetti clams ($18) and Maple Farms duck breast pan-roasted with an apricot relish and balsamic reduction sauce ($27) to the wild arugula with roasted beets with a blue cheese vinaigrette ($8) and the all-American burger Beach House-style made with Angus beef on a toasted bun ($12.90).
Something else everyone can appreciate: The chance to pretend you own a house by the beach, with a friendly personal chef and service staff to boot. The view, like good value, never gets old. It’s a casual cool spot that’s budget friendly, where I can see myself as a regular and a place where I can meet other locals. Consider their mission accomplished.