Long before the Food Network started churning out celebrity chefs, the Bay Area had Narsai David – restaurateur, food writer, media personality and caterer to the stars.
His trendsetting restaurant helped give birth to California cuisine. It is long gone, but you can get a hint of what has made him famous for 40 years by visiting Grasing’s, a hidden gem in Carmel run by Kurt Grasing with his mentor and partner, Narsai David.
If you are a shellfish lover you owe it to yourself to try the abalone. It’s generally hard to find on menus and even harder to find prepared properly. Because of over-harvesting of wild abalone, farmed abalone is the only type available for retail sale. And thanks to local aquaculture, Grasing’s has it straight from Monterey Bay to your table.
I tried the red abalone appetizer, which comes Dore style – pounded medallions with a thin egg wash, sautéed and served with heirloom tomatoes and couscous. Snack food for the gods.
My entrée was oso bucco with a red wine reduction, marrowbones and a winter vegetable risotto. It is hard to imagine more complex and alluring depth of flavor.
Dessert was a hot blackberry and peach crisp with cold vanilla ice cream.
I am not much of a wine drinker, but if you are you are likely to enjoy the selection that comes from Narsai David’s private wine seller.
Grasing’s has been awarded “Restaurant of the Year” and “Business of the Year” by the Carmel Business Association. Chef Grasing was also honored by the American Culinary Federation and received an award for “Chef of the Year.”
Grasing’s serves what it calls coastal cuisine, featuring fresh and sustainable local ingredients. Elegant without trying too hard. Good and knowledgeable servers. A block above Ocean Avenue. Definitely worth a try.