Bernardus Lodge

Bedrnardus is a chef’s dream; your own vineyard, gardens brimming with fresh herbs and vegetables, strong relationships with local purveyors and the freedom to create innovative menus. Chef Cal Stamenov has cooked with some of the greats of the culinary world; Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Masa Koboiashi, Jean-Louis Palladin and Michel Richard. Before Bernardus he was the Executive Chef at Highland Inn’s Pacific Edge and before that the Chef de Cuisine at Domaine Chandon in Napa.

Breakfast and lunch are served in Wickets Bistro and when the weather is nice, the outside patio is delightful. Breakfast offers delicious fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and excellent omelets, quiches and paninis. Call ahead if you have to, but don’t misss the chicken hash, it is amazing with their farm fresh eggs.

The casual, bistro style menu is pretty much the same at lunch and dinner. Good choices at lunch: wood fired, grilled artichoke with balsamic vinegar and basil aioli, mini raviolimwith Chanterelle Mushrooms, swiss chard and Parmigiano-Reggiano and brick oven pizza with Prosciutto, leeks and arugula.

Dinner at the acclaimed Marinus is an event. Diners can choose to eat in the cozy Main Dining Room (where we ate) with its 12 foot wide raised hearth fireplace and views of the gardens or the mountains, at the Chef’s Table in the kitchen (up to 5 people) or in the stunning Wine Cellar (up to 8 people).

Our meal began with two delicious appetizers; fresh local chanterelles with celery root agnolotti and a black truffle sauce and red abalone with fuji apple and a parsnip puree. Entrees were a California white sea bass served with Yukon Gold potato and leek and an amazingly lean and moist Sonoma, smoked and grilled with pancetta and a tarragon-mustard jus. Dessert was a selection of three cheeses, two from France and one from Italy.

One word sums up the Wine Spectator Grand Award winning list: spectacular. 1800 labels and 34,000 bottles showcase some of the greatest wines in the world. It is not an inexpensive list, but rarely will you have the opportunity to sample such great stars. A lengthy wine-by-the glass menu and lots of ½ bottles softens the blow a little. Since we were at a winery, we opted for a ½ bottle of Bernardus Chardonnay, Ingrid’s Vineyard for our appetizers and the Marinus Meritage for our entrees. Both were excellent.
Appetizers: $11-$45, entrees: $30-$52. Tasting menu; $85-$150.

Forbes 4 Star

“It’s a bit of a drive if you’re not staying at the lodge, but worth every mile for some of the best food on the Monterey Peninsula swoon foodies who trek to this elegant classic in Carmel Valley to be coddled and bask in the glow of its cheery fireplace-lit old-world ambiance; chef Cal Stamenov’s exquisite nouveau French Californian tasting menu is the star here, and for special occasions when price does not matter, let the sommelier guide you to wines perfectly paired to your dinner. ” ZAGAT