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415 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, CA
Cuisine: California-French cuisine
Pluses: beautiful intimate setting in the lodge; excellent food
Prices: Appetizers $13-$17; Entrees $32-$42; Tasting Menu $65; Garden Menu-$45
Overview: Dinner nightly; reservations recommended; full bar; 12-foot wide European limestone fireplace with raised hearth; garden and mountain views; old-world wine country charm; inviting outdoor terrace for dining; live piano music in the lobby; wine cellar that seats 8; a chef's table in the kitchen that seats 4; tasting menu with 6 items can include wine pairing; garden (or vegetarian) menu with 5 items.
Executive Chef Cal Stamenov serves Wine Country Cuisine, which includes the use of fresh herbs and vegetables from the chef's garden, including, among other things, a wide variety of tomatoes indigenous to the Carmel Valley area. Grilling and smoking of a variety of meats and fresh fish also has a prominent place on the restaurants menu. Marinus has 17 tables amongst the limestone fireplace. This creates a cozy setting and with the excellent service we received, our evening was a delight. The bread arrived hot, the Peconic Bay oysters were extremely fresh, the lobster salad with a spicy yam puree was very innovative but it was the portobello mushroom soup with goat cheese and white truffle oil that was clearly the winner in the appetizer category. This is a smooth, special soup. You will find both foie gras and caviar but dinner can be as simple as a quality steak. Marinus offers four grilled, prime beef: filet, Kansas City, cote de boeuf and filet on the bone. Our steak was very good. Salmon, tuna, squab, veal loin and lamb are also part of the menu. On the dessert menu, there is a separate chocolate section with 4 offerings with the kind of chocolate used in each. Choco Latte, Chocolate Tart, Godiva Truffle Cake and White Chocolate Creme Brulee. A wide selection of hot brewed teas is another treat. I was taken aback by the Buccaneer with coconut, chocolate, vanilla, rooibos and black tea. After dinner drinks can, of course, round out your dinner.