Pebble Beach: Finding veggie perfection and a royal treat
AS MANY a vegetarian will attest, the words “the chef will make you something special” can make your heart sink.
What follows is often some mediocre pasta dish, a mushroom risotto, or a ‘stack’ of grilled aubergine and peppers.
So when that happened at Pebble Beach I was a bit apprehensive. But what I was presented with was quite possibly the best vegetarian dish I have ever had the pleasure to eat in a restaurant.
It was a light-as-a-feather ‘pastilla’ – a pastry parcel – stuffed with spicy vegetables sitting on a sauce that defied description. On top was a perfectly glazed carrot which on its own was gorgeous.
Every forkful was a delicate symphony of flavours. What head chef Andy Waters had rustled it up on the spot was just amazing.
There were vegetarian dishes I could have chosen from the menu, like the saucy sounding ‘goats cheese bonbon both ways’ and I imagine they would have been just as delicious.
The bar had been set high by our starter, a Roquefort soufflé which was unctuous, silky and delicately flavoured. We had been offered the option of having Coastal cheddar instead of the strong French blue cheese but I think if we had plumped for this we would have missed a real treat. The Roquefort was not overpowering at all.
My friend does not eat fish which, when Pebble Beach specialises in this and shellfish, is a bit of a shame. She told Andy’s wife Beverley, who was taking our order, that she was torn between the chicken or the steak.
“Go for the steak,” said Beverley adding, “it comes from the Queen’s Balmoral estate.” That swung it – that and the murmurs of pleasure from the man on the next table who was busy telling his wife “this is the best steak I have ever had”.
My friend was glad of her choice when she was presented with a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak which she concurred was also probably the best she had ever had.
In fact, she has been a regular diner at Pebble Beach over the years and at the conclusion of our meal declared that it was, like the steak, the most perfect she had ever enjoyed there.
I think what probably swung it for her was the crème caramel which came with a beautifully poached red wine pear-and-walnut and caramel ice-cream.
My dessert of steeped mango with crispy meringue, sweetened cream, passionfruit, pineapple pieces and mango sorbet was equally as gorgeous but very generously sized.
The wines Beverley chose for me were perfect – a high quality prosecco and a Chilean sauvignon blanc.
It has been a long time since I actually ate at Pebble Beach but the meal we had was so good it will not be long before I return.
Andy has already introduced a new a la carte menu featuring starters like ham hock croquettes with English mustard mayonnaise dressing and roasted king prawns with sautéed green beans, black olive, tomato and basil.
Mains include chargrilled calf liver Lyonnaise, Pebble Beach fish pie and grilled salmon teriyaki.
Desserts range from ruby chocolate fondant with cold-store blackberries and blackberry ripple ice-cream to rum baba with exotic fruits and crème Chantilly
There is also a special offer of two courses for £20 and three-courses for £25 available from Sunday evening to Saturday lunchtime.
Andy is, as he told me, planning to introduce a vegetarian and vegan menu. Its star should certainly be the dish he served me – it was completely sublime.