Carmel Doesn’t Have Beaches But It Has Monterey Coastal Cuisine

4.3/5 - (6 votes)

The scene on Main Street is bursting back to life this spring! And new to the mix of restaurants and locally owned businesses is Monterey Coastal Cuisine.

This culinary happening features a completely renovated space that was formerly Scotty’s Brewhouse. You won’t believe how remarkable the difference is in the interior space and design, as well as the state-of -the-art patio seating area, until you see it for yourself. Featuring several pieces of one-of-a-kind “coastal” art from local artist Sean Sheppard, a very hip and relaxing “West Coast” vibe permeates the restaurant. Even the restrooms are beautifully appointed. The jellyfish tank is pretty cool too!

Owners Chris Thomas and Paul Estridge Jr. are proud to showcase not only an exquisite menu that boasts an assortment of fresh seafood, including an impressive custom-built, inspired sushi bar, oysters and mussels—steamed in miso broth—but also the most delectable variety of made-from-scratch desserts created by one of the many all-stars that make up the “team,” comprised of award-winning artisan chefs and renowned Monterey Coastal Cuisine staff.

The Monterey Coastal Cuisine Experience

The entire Monterey Coastal Cuisine experience rivals any that one would have on Mass Ave in downtown Indy. Sitting off of Indiana’s “boardwalk,” the Monon Trail, while sipping any one of Monterey’s myriad of amazing craft cocktails, beer, wine or sake offerings isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon or evening in Carmel’s Arts & Design District.

The ease and convenience of valet parking or free parking in Sophia Square’s two-story underground parking is just one of the many amenities that guests of Monterey will enjoy.

Thomas shared that his restaurant will also be utilizing some dedicated space in Sophia Square’s courtyard, located just outside of Monterey, for special events. Stay tuned for more on that!

When asked what he thinks differentiates Monterey Coastal Cuisine from other seafood establishments, Thomas said, “We know what our customers want. They want superfresh seafood. This is a very tough market, and people travel, so they know [quality]. I also think the [local] market wants to know who the operators are and want a place where, when they walk in, the host/hostess says, ‘Hey, how are you and your kids?’ And ‘Oh hey, I just got in your favorite wine!’”

Thomas also shared his philosophy on giving his team the “freedom” to create and have a vested interest in the restaurant with regards to the culture and service.

“We are giving [our team] the freedom to do the right things for the restaurant,” Thomas said. “And the freedom to do the right things for people.”

General Manager Jeremy Devine has had extensive experience in fine dining over the course of his career.

“Fine dining shouldn’t be stuffy; it should be the opposite,” Devine stated. “I always wanted any restaurant that I’ve ran to not feel intimidating when you walk in. I love hospitality, and I love people and showing people a good time. I do the same thing at our restaurant that I do at home. The first thing I do is offer you some food, some drinks—let’s get you fed and have a good time!”

Monterey Coastal Cuisine

Meet Some Members of Monterey’s All-Star Team

As he is no stranger to the local restaurant industry, Executive Chef Fredrick Scott shared that opening Monterey has been a dream realized for him and Thomas and many other team members that came over to work with Thomas from their former place of employment.

“We’d been talking about doing something on our own [noncorporate] for the last 10 years,” Scott shared. “The hardest part for us during COVID-19 was we couldn’t make any food until over a month ago, when we could get into the building and start using our kitchen. It all sounded really good on paper and in my head, but until we could execute it and see how it was all going to work, it was really stressful, and there was a lot of pressure.”

In my opinion, the wait was worth it, Chef!

Rocking the world-class sushi bar is Executive Sushi Chef Chanse Kinneman. Chef Kinneman shared what is most important to him when creating succulent and mind-blowing sushi and sashimi dishes.

“With the sushi, I focus on fresh products, quality products and good rice,” Kinneman said. “I have a lot of talented guys working with me that come from different backgrounds and have different styles as far as sushi goes. The important thing for me is what types of fish we’re using. We try to be a little different than other places. We have the basics that everybody likes, and we mix in some other stuff that maybe people aren’t so familiar with.”

I sampled the salmon avocado sashimi and can report with honesty, it’s some of the best I’ve ever had! Paired with an amazing cucumber jalapeno gimlet, prepared by bartender extraordinaire Marshall Shipley, that really brought out some amazing flavors in the sashimi, and it was one of my favorite items and cocktail pairings from that visit.

“A lot of that time the cucumber skin is what creates that real potent [sour] taste,” Shipley explained. “Once you take the skin out, really you’re just tasting that fresh cucumber water, and you never think about it afterwards.”

Monterey Coastal Cuisine

And what better way to top off an excellent meal than to sample an array of unforgettable desserts made with the joy and passion of Pastry Chef Lucy Wright.

“When I create desserts, I do it with people in mind,” Wright expressed. “I think about how many people I am going to make smile today. I want to put magic into my desserts and share it with people.”

While I recommend trying all of Chef Lucy’s desserts, I will promise you that her White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake is to die for!

One of Monterey’s most driven and dedicated members of its training team is Megan Desjardans. A California native, Desjardans has also worked with Thomas for many years and is part of the original “family” that came over from another local establishment to help Thomas and the rest of the team make Monterey the greatest success it can be.

Monterey Coastal Cuisine

“I feel like a proud mom,” Desjardans exclaimed. “Coming to Indiana, we wanted to bring some ‘California’ here, and since we’ve opened, I’ve noticed people saying, ‘Oh my gosh, it feels like we’re not in Indiana—it feels like we’re in California!’ Everyone’s having fun and enjoying the good food and the environment that we’ve developed.”

So, there it is. You have all the reasons to go out and enjoy an incomparable experience at Monterey Coastal Cuisine in Carmel. Be sure to tell them that Carmel Monthly sent you!

Visit montereycuisine.com for more information and be sure to follow the restaurant on social media for updates and future special events!