Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Doggone Fun Dinner at Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge

Tonight is the last night of Monterey Bay's Restaurant Week for 2012. My piece about Terry's Restaurant + Lounge hit the Edible Monterey Bay blog today (10/25/2012): click here to read it there.

A Doggone Fun Dinner at Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge
Story and Photos by Camilla M. Mann

I called to make a reservation for Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge in Carmel’s Cypress Inn, here’s how the conversation went…

“I’d like a table for two on Sunday, please. Six o’clock, if you have any tables available.”

Will you be bringing a pet?

“Excuse me?”

A dog? Are you bringing one?

“Oh, no. Thank you.”

We have two dining rooms where we welcome dogs – with good table manners, of course – and one dining room, in the back, where no dogs are allowed and there are tablecloths. Which would you like?

“With tablecloths, please.”

Great, we’ll see you at six on Sunday.


When I met up with my friend, to head to the restaurant, he handed me one of his kid’s stuffed animals. “We have to bring a dog, right?” The hostess chuckled as we placed our pet on the table. “Does he have a name?” she joked. “No, not yet,” Brian admitted.

Cypress Inn is co-owned by screen legend Doris Day who is a huge animal advocate. She founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation, one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the world; and she wanted to put Cypress Inn on the map as the pet-friendliest inn in the country. Hence, the welcome policy for four-legged friends.

Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge, inside Cypress Inn, is named for Doris’ son Terry Melcher who designed it in what used to be office space for the hotel. He adored Morocco and incorporated many North African elements into his plans. Tragically, he lost his battle with cancer right before it opened and was never able to see his Moroccan décor and lighting in living color.

Terry’s is a charming restaurant. Brian and I were seated at a table against a Moroccan lattice screen carved of wood. The wall behind the bar is painted in the traditional Marrakech trellis pattern, a stylized quatrefoil. Ornate pendant lights throw shadows of intricate patterns through their brass cutouts. And pillows in all shapes and sizes, adorned with complex designs made from wool threads, line the benches.

Since the beginning of the 16th century – and perhaps longer – it has been important for North African girls to learn to weave or embroider. Having those skills affords women a measure of financial independence, an outlet for their creative instincts, and embroidery becomes a social event. Often women gather in the same room while each works individually on her own project. They converse, embroider, eat, and drink tea; an older woman leads prayers at the appropriate times. Think of it as a Moroccan quilting bee. The embroidered pillows at Terry’s would make any mu'allema, embroidery mistress, proud.

Not only does the atmosphere have a Moroccan flair, but the menu continues to feature Moroccan-inspired dishes in Terry’s honor. In fact, one of the new dishes on the menu was a Moroccan Kefta Tagine.

Brian and I were there to try out Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge menu for Monterey Bay’s Restaurant Week. Taking place from October 18th to 25th, Monterey Bay’s Restaurant Week offers diners the chance to try some of the area’s hot spots for a reasonable price. Participating restaurants, all around the Monterey Bay, offer prix fixe menus ranging from $25 to $45 for three courses that are illustrative of their culinary breadth and depth. Unlike many of the other restaurants, Terry’s paired each dish with a wine that was included the menu price. And most of the chosen wines were from Monterey County vintners. What a deal!

We started off with the Sand Dab Slider, another new dish, and Monterey Calamari, a perennial local favorite. The sand dab was dusted in cornmeal, pan fried, served on a grilled brioche bun with housemade tartar sauce, and paired with a Grenache Blanc from Scheid. Served with glass of Pierce Albariño, the calamari was dipped in a Moroccan-spiced tempura batter and served with a harissa aioli. Harissa is North African paste made of hot red peppers. It added a fantastic, exotic flair to the aioli.

Next up, we tried the Braised Short Ribs, served with a red wine reduction and unbelievably smooth whipped potatoes, and the Moroccan Kefta Tagine, meatballs made with lamb and beef simmered in a curry-infused tomato sauce. A mound of couscous and roasted asparagus and carrots accompanied the meatballs. The wines for our second course were a De Tierra Estate Merlot and a Pierce Tempranillo.

Our final course was dessert. We opted for the Medjool Dates – soaked in sherry, stuffed with goat cheese, honey, toasted walnuts, and lemon zest – that were served with an enthusiastic Mercat Cava that just kept bubbling and bubbling. And we ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake that was drizzled with a cabernet reduction, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla gelato, and paired with a Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon. The rich, dark chocolate was refreshingly lightened by the vanilla.

At the end of the meal, the hostess came by the table to see how we had liked everything. We enjoyed the meal, delighted in the kind of conversational banter you can have with someone who has been your friend since you were fourteen, and – especially – appreciated how each dish came with its own wine pairing. That was an unexpected bonus.

Brian and I agreed on the favorite dish for the evening: the tagine. The flavors were subtle but layered. I might just have to get my hands on one of those traditional clay pots and experiment with a few Moroccan recipes.

As we were settling the bill and getting ready to leave, “We named the dog,” we announced to the hostess. “Meet Doris!” Our evening adventure at Terry’s Restaurant + Lounge was a doggone fun dinner.

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