If you read us regularly, you know we’re huge fans of farm-to-table dining, organic food, restaurants who source from local farms and chefs and establishment owners who pay attention to where food comes from. We care and applaud restaurants who take the time to think through their menus, buy high quality organic ingredients and support nearby communities and farmers.
Meet one of our new favorite chefs: Soerke Peters, who’s the co-owner and main chef at Basil Seasonal Dining just off the main drag in Carmel-by-the-Sea California. Nestled in the middle of an alley off the main shopping street (get there early to view for creative window shopping and cafes), this cute and casual, but authentic and local gem features locally grown produce and organic ingredients. A certified Green European style restaurant, Basil boasts a seasonally rotating menu, which also features gluten-free and vegan alternatives. They also have an elegantly curated list of local wines to complement their fresh, wild and sustainable seafood and grass-fed beef, which have been raised on family-owned ranches.
“It’s never wrong to to do the right thing…..go green.” — Chef Soerke Peters
The place has a whole lotta charm, first and foremost because it’s tiny and has warm inviting paintings on the wall, including a large photo of Chef Soerke Peters himself. They compensate for their small space by having a large outside dining area in a quaint courtyard and they have heat lamps for those who get cold easily.
We sat inside by the window to do a l’il people watching while we waited for courses to come, starting with a little pure basil with garlic, olive oil, and spinach sampler. Whenever meatballs are on the menu as an appetizer, I have to oblige — it’s just one of my things, a bit like my positive relationship with oysters. Their Lamb Meatballs did not dissappoint, prepared with red onions and fresh goat cheese. Blissful!!
The local Monterey Abalone small plate is scrumptious as well. He prepares this dish with vermouth, parsnip puree, sweet corn and an asparagus-potato hash. Note that they tend to use a lot of potatoes in their dishes here, but done in new, fresh and creative ways. Basil too of course!
While we didn’t try it, the Duck Liver-Pear Pate had me at hello and I would have ordered it if the Grilled Quail wrapped in Bacon and the Grilled Octopus from Spain wasn’t calling our names even louder. The Octopus looks like it was pulled fresh from the boat an hour ago (literally),but if you grew up in an Italian household where your grandmother served Octopus with those crazy white delicious Cannellini beans, then you’ll be all over this dish. He gets his beans from Coke Farms nearby and drizzles it with Quail and Olive basil oil. Couple that with warm cherry tomatoes and you’ll be one happy camper.
Because I love salads and don’t feel a meal is complete without one, we went for the California Fig Salad, which he does with Wild Arugula, Point Reyes blue cheese, a Quail and Olive Ambrosia vinaigrette and toasted walnuts. YUM! Beet lovers will be happy to know that he offers a fresh organic Roasted Beet Salad with Belgian Endive, arugula, goat cheese, walnuts and Quail and Olive raspberry vinaigrette.
Since we tend to keep our carb intake in check, we didn’t opt for the homemade Corn Ravioli, although it sounded oh so lovely — it’s a saffron pasta made with radicchio double smoked bacon and a marjoram-butter sauce. Pasta lovers listen up — he also does a Black Squid Ink Linguine with Monterey Bay squid and a Mendocino sea urchin sauce. WOW! Meat lovers beware — there are Beef Cheeks which have been braised for five hours and house-made Lamb-Black Garlic Sausages with a summer vegetable ragout on the menu, which we watched our neighbors devour with smiles on their faces. Soerke has been experimenting a lot with goat over the past year and gets two goats in a month, no older than 8 months old, which apparently is key to ensuring your goat dishes are fresh and tender.
He whipped up a special Braised Goat Shoulder dish for us with creamy polenta, the polenta so smooth it just melted in our mouths. Add to this scrumptious treat, local Chantelle mushrooms and Broccolini and we are still thinking of this flavorful dish over a week later. We paired it with a delicious Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, which was oh so perfect. If you go here — and I’d strongly recommend you add it to your Carmel Restaurant Must List — be sure to order whatever Goat Inspiration he has on the menu for the evening. You won’t be disappointed!!
It’s worth noting their Organic Beer Selection, which includes IPA’s, Belgian Blonde Ales and Lagers from Salt Lake City Utah. Their cocktails are apparently memorable as well — don’t miss out on their Signature Cocktail, the Passion Fruit Basil-Tini, which is made with rum, passion fruit and fresh Basil. For dessert, we went with the Olallieberry Cobbler, which they top with homemade Vanilla Gelato. Prior to that, Soerke came out with a bowl of his Vanilla Gelato which he poured some Basil Olive Oil over while we watched, mouths drooling – OMG! This combination was to die for, so much so that I polished it off on my own and left the cobbler for Anthony. It was so so so divine!
Because of Soerke’s German influence, they have Apple Strudel on the menu, which our waitress whose nickname is apparently Ice Cream, strongly recommended – think Fuji Apples, Figs, Pine Nuts, Vanilla Sauce and whipped cream. Also imagine some homemade Gelato with Amaretto cookies and a shot of Danesi Espresso or if you don’t shy away from the carbs like we do, then for the Italian Bread Pudding, which is a warm flan with Brioche Bread Panettone and Port Wine with a poached pear. Alternatively, you could opt for the Limoncello Cheese Cake with fresh Berry Compote or traditional Creme Brulee. They also have a local cheese plate with nuts, honey and dried fruits or if you want to keep it light after a big meal, then go for a simple Olallieberry Rhubarb Sorbet, which is heavenly — two thumbs up!!
Basil Seasonal Dining
San Carlos Between Ocean & 7th
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921