Outstanding Chowder & Prawn Scampi Inside The Portola Hotel & Spa
As I looked up and down the menu, I was continually distracted by the large fireplace quietly flickering inside a wall.
People were sitting in front of it, relaxing and chatting while drinking fine wines, cocktails and excellent craft beers from neighboring Peter B’s Brewpub.
I was in the remodeled Jack’s Monterey, the fine dining restaurant inside the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, CA. I could have chosen to dine in the lobby, which almost gives you the feeling your outdoors when you’re really indoors, but I preferred to be in the bar area, which I’ve always found to be the more entertaining location, especially as a solo traveler.
That was the easy part; figuring out what to order was the tough part. The menu is simple – one long page – but the choices seemed succulent. So I ordered a Peter B’s Legend of Laguna IPA to help me make my decision.
One thing I already knew: I was going to have the Jack’s Chowder. My dining experience tells me to always order chowder when it’s on the menu, the philosophy being that if a place can make a good chowder, the chances are the rest of the menu will also be good. Conversely, if the chowder is bland, then the food will be, too.
Well let me say the chowder was excellent. It was so thick the spoon almost stood up in it, and my first scoop produced a huge chunk of potato. It also had clams, dungeness crab, grilled artichoke hearts (no doubt from the adjacent fertile artichoke fields) and a touch of bacon.
I could not have made a better choice, although the waitress, Lauren, left me with this dangling carrot: the Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi is her favorite appetizer.
She certainly steered me right on the main course.
I was contemplating three selections: the Prawn Scampi, the Brick Young Chicken and a pizza with Italian sausage. Lauren instantly pointed to the scampi and with an endorsement like that, I ordered it without hesitation.
To accompany it, I was reviewing the extensive wine menu when I notice a flight of three Monterey County wines for $10. Perfect.
And so, too, was the scampi. Beyond what I can tell you about it, two more servers passing by my table paused to say that it is their favorite dish. While that’s probably all you need to know, let me add that is was sensational.
For starters, there were at least a half a dozen large prawns. They were served over pasta and surrounded by a light sauce. At first glance, the sauce looks thin and runny but it turns out it’s the perfect compliment to the shrimp and pasta. I don’t know what’s in it but it’s certainly not lacking in taste; I wound up spinning the pasta in it and running the shrimp through it to soak up every delicious ounce.
And the price was just $18. I challenge you to find a finer meal at this price anywhere on the planet.
When you combine the quality of the food, the wine and drinks and the soothing atmosphere, you’ll find Jack’s Monterey a fine dining destination in Monterey.
Jack’s Monterey Restaurant Details
Hours: Lunch – 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dinner: 4 p.m.-11 p.m.
Full Menu & Prices: Click here.
Location: Inside the Portola Hotel & Spa, 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA
Phone: (831) 649-7830