La Bicyclette, Carmel, California
In a town renowned for its charm, no dining establishment is more charming than La Bicyclette, the little French cafe in Carmel-by-the-Sea at the corner of Delores and 7th, once the site of the same proprietors’ fabled La Boheme, the eatery that more or less kicked off the foodie movement in the region. Sharing the ramshackle romance of Casanova, its venerable (and more famous) sibling on 5th Avenue at Mission, the kitchen of the bustling bistro applies the traditions of Belgian-French country cooking to fresh, mostly local and organic ingredients (with some produce coming from the Carmel Middle School Hilton Bialek Habitat), rendering meals that are as deceptively simple as they are deeply satisfying. The selection of entrées changes daily: you can find sample menus here, but don’t expect that the smoked Serrano honey-lacquered Bobwhite quail with wood-fired petite yams or the slow-braised Berkshire pork and cabbage will necessarily be on your table tonight. A specialty of the house is thin-crust pizza from a wood-fired Mugnaini oven. The wine list never fails to satisfy.
And that vintage French bicycle parked outside? It may look like a prop, but it functions as the delivery vehicle should you decide to order from Casanova’s more extensive wine cellar a few blocks away.
Don’t miss an opportunity to stop at La Bicyclette the next time you’re passing through (or anywhere near) Monterey Peninsula. The Detourist has been known to go 100 miles out of the way to feast at La Bicyclette.
File: La Bicyclette restaurant, open every day (breakfast 8-11am, lunch 11:30am-4pm, desserts & appetizers 3-5pm, dinner 5-10pm — wine tastings anytime!); Dolores Street at 7th, Carmel-by-the-Sea CA; 831.622.9899; http://www.labicycletterestaurant.com.