So the other night I got to indulge in the kind of fun thing that one gets to do when one goes home to a spot like Carmel to hang around with family, namely try one of the many great restaurants in the area. Hey, it’s an indulgence, and Carmel is good for that, believe me.
This particular indulgence, the Volcano Grill is the latest effort by a local legend, Bill Lee aka Billy Quon, who has opened up past restaurants like Bahama Billy’s that are still chugging along. My parents know him as they do many local folks and as I hear it, he decided to take it a bit easier and open up a new spot deep in the Carmel Valley, which is the new frontier of development of sorts in the area (you can only develop the Carmel Highlands so much). The Valley is an area I’m not too familiar with, only been down that way a few times over the years, so I enjoyed the drive along, as the fog began to fade away:
The Grill itself is located in Carmel Valley Village, an unincorporated spot that is more or less the ‘center of town’ in a general sense. It’s a nice location and in the sunset, a picture will always say more:
The theme of the place’s design can be described as arty tiki, definitely not on the trashy side of it (which of course has its many virtues). It reflects the feeling of Carmel in general, higher end where possible — hey, the place has the money — and it’s seen easily in these following shots:
Bill himself is a very friendly fellow — a gladhander in the best sense, wanting to make sure everyone is having not merely a great time but the best possible time — and his wife no less so. Great service staff and the food, well, let me start with the mai tais…
Smooth, VERY smooth, but very strong. Was tempted to go for a second one but that might well have wiped me out. For appetizers the four of us split an excellent batch of calamari:
Not too heavy and the sauce had a good spice burn to it without being overpowering — still, the cumulative effect might have been a bit much had I eaten it all on my own.
My choice for the main dish was one of the specials that evening, a Dungeness crab cake with a caprese salad variant along with greens:
Almost ridiculously delicious, a savory combination of the crab cake’s crispy shell and the meat itself, the bite of the greens and the excellence of the local tomato and mozzarella combination. Basically as stellar as one could want from such a preparation.
And dessert, well, I will never say no to a good molten chocolate cake:
Had to steer away from the ice cream due to dietary restrictions but I indulged in a small bit — kinda had to.
So this isn’t a formal restaurant review or anything but, you know, find yourself in the area — I’d say you should check it out. And who knows who’s reading this who will be there? Just come at the right time of day so you can catch this kind of view on the way back to Carmel:
Life, it’s good.