Bistro Moulin – Monterey, CA

After walking from the wharf to the aquarium to work off our huge lunch, then 3.5 hours in the aquarium and checking out the surrounding shops. I was more than happy to sit down for a nice dinner and some wine. I made reservations for Bistro Moulin a week in advance because I read about their small capacity.

We got there 15 minutes before our reservation time, was greeted by a nice middled aged lady who stood right at the entrance next to a reservations book and got seated promptly in the cutest corner table.

The restaurant is small, quaint and cozy. There were random French inspired knick knacks around the space, and an tiny open kitchen with 2 chefs working. One of them being the owner, Didier Dutertre.

It didn’t take us long to peruse the short menu. I appreciate short menus, because chances are the chefs are well versed in every single dish that comes out.

They have an extensive wine menu by the bottle, and a decent selection by the glass.

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Started with:

Carrot Tapenade w Crostini (Complimentary)

I am not a fan of carrot but this is quite tasty. Soft bits of carrots mixed with Greek yoghurt, so it was sweet with a creamy tanginess. Crostinis were as expected – crusty and hard.

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Bread (Complimentary)

Loved that the bread was served warm (steaming actually) so the butter spread so nicely and soft with a little chew.

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We ordered:

Gnocchi con Spinaci $10.75

Spinach gnocchi au gratin

Light pillowy softness!! I love the whole fluffiness of the gnocchi so I thought it was perfect. Meep, on the other hand, said he prefers denser gnocchis so he was not too crazy about the texture of the gnocchi. It was very soft, swimming in this creamy cheesy sauce. The sauce was delicious as all – very rich dish so the appetiser has the perfect quantity. I think any more would be too overwhelming. Great dish.

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Escargot au Beurre a l’Ail et aux Noisettes $11.75

Escargots with garlic & hazelnut butter

*disclosure* – we each had a piece and realised it was way way too salty so we returned the dish to the kitchen. Meep has a very high salt tolerance, whereas I tend to be more picky. Even he thought this was way to salty… They took the dish back, but were not able to remake one because they were made in batches. Disappointing because it did have good flavours and the escargot was plump and tender. It got taken off the bill graciously.

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Confit de Canard $23.50

Duck confit with Beluga lentils and petite salad

Great crispy skin with fat rendered off and flavours infused into every inch of the flesh. The duck was surprisingly moist and cured so well. The other experiences I have had with duck confit is almost jerky like meat, but this totally reminded me of what good duck confit would taste like. The originaly flavours of the duck were still there, a little gamey and fatty.

It was so good that Meep was reluctant to really share this, and normally we share EVERYTHING! It was salty (as expected) but not overly so, and the lentils and vegetables evened out the salt level of the whole dish. The baby carrots were so beautifully cleaned, presented and cooked so well. The lentils were good with the tasty ducky jus/gravy.

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Fresh Fish of the day – Seabass $25

Basil crusted seabass, w mixed vegetables and topped with beurre blanc sauce

Oh, I am so torn about this dish. The serving was generous and it looked beautiful with the nicely uniform cubes of a whole variety of vegetables. The sauce was amazing – rich, creamy and a tad tangy over well cooked pieces of eggplant, peppers, artichokes and roasted tomatoes. The only downside was the fish!! It was grossly overdone, so much so that the sauce could not even give it more moisture. So sad since it was such a beautiful filet.

I was really surprised when I saw that this special was only $25! If the fish was cooked a tad better, this is a steal of a dish… I would have gladly paid so much more for it because of how well all the flavours meld together.

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Chocolate caramel tart $7

I am a very visual person, so when this dessert was introduced to me – I made the mistake of not even looking at the dessert menu and ordering this. I was quite disappointed. The ganache was grainy, with a really hard dry chocolate crust. The ratio of chocolate to caramel was a little off so it was overwhelmingly sweet.

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Extras:

San Pellegrino Aranchiata $3.75- Meep who is totally allergic to alcohol ordered a coke, which they didn’t have. Was told they had San Pellegrino soda so we ordered the Aranchiata (orange-ade), which was refreshing and as good as I remembered.

Heinz Eifel Riesling (Spatlese) $7.75 – It was refreshing, fuller than other Riesling I have had and sweet (but not as sweet as Muscat).

Coffee $3 - Coffee was really good as well. I could have easily downed 2-3 cups of these.

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Total Damage: $106.60 (including tax & tip, excluding escargot)

Personal Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Very good)

Other than the escragot salt level and way overcooked seabass, all the other items we had that evening were pretty darn tasty.

The prices were definitely reasonable, I could not believe the seabass special was only  $25 or the refreshing Riesling was under $8. Food quality far surpassed our expectations and was consistently timed very well. We barely waited between courses and they came to the table right as the chef plated them.

Service was pretty good; they were gracious enough to take the escargot back without any fuss and removed it from the bill, plates were cleared very efficiently, servers were quite on top of things – introducing specials, taking orders, check backs, offering desserts and finally getting us the bill. But I do have to mention that the moment the coffee cup was placed in front of me, we kind of lost the attention of the server. No offers for more coffee or check back on the dessert.

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Bistro Moulin

867 Wave Street,
Monterey, CA 93940

(831) 333 1200
Bistro Moulin on Urbanspoon

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