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Guest Post: Review of Monterey

Anthony from Sea by the City has generously written a review on Monterey, the new restaurant where Corbin’s used to be.  Be sure to visit Sea by the City for whats happening in Long Beach!

Monterey opened their doors last Friday. My dad always told me never go to a restaurant the day it opens; that’s when they clean the dust off the pans. So I waited a few days and ended up going last night.

My wife and I were immediately greeted by the owner/manager. He seemed like a really nice guy and asked us for feedback since they’re still trying out the menu. Fair Enough. He also said how they’re focusing on a healthy food and that Long Beach is the “test market” for what will be a local franchise.

The decor was very nice; not hip or trendy. It was cute and unique to the area. You can tell they spent a boat load of money on this place. The decor reminded me of a modern version of Coastal Grill – lots of blues, whites and wood.

On with the food:

So the waiter came and said they don’t have specials yet because they’re currently promoting the new menu. I thought that was a good idea. They have a lot to deal with getting the place going. The first thing they need to do is make sure the menu works before they go with the bells and whistles.

First came bread, butter and homemade hummus which was pretty good. The hummus was made with sundried tomatoes, oil and garlic. A good bread dip. It tasted healthy – no sugar or overuse of salt.

We weren’t in the mood for salad, so we decided to split an appetizer. Now since I don’t eat seafood (what kind of Italian am I?) my appetizer choices were limited. All but two of the appetizers were seafood based. We went with the Southern Asian Fusion which is a fancy way of saying “BBQ Chicken Spring Rolls”. They were good, but they took forever to come out of the kitchen. As soon as they did I didn’t even think about taste. They were a little greasy and deep fried – not the healthiest thing in the world for a place chanting “health”. They came with a cilantro sauce which was light and seemed tasty as I shoved the rolls down my throat.

For the main course I got a the fillet mignon with spinach and mushrooms. Now there are two ways you can go about this dish: It was either healthy or bland. Since Monterey is a “healthy restaurant” I am leaning towards the healthy side, but I am sure most people will go with the later. The meat was cooked very well and it was a top notch quality. The spinach and mushrooms were healthy, but little bland.. May I suggest a little garlic? I did like how everything tasted together and all the food seemed fresh and good quality.

My wife ordered the Sea Bass with brown rice. She said the fish was cooked to perfection, but it was too sweet as if they cooked it with sugar. She felt like she was eating dessert. She also said the brown rice as a little too bland. We eat brown rice all the time so she was hoping it would have been better since she had better.

Speaking of dessert, we didn’t order any. While waiting so long for our BBQ Chicken Spring Roll appetizer we eat too much bread.

So would I go back? Sure, why not. My wife and I generally eat healthy, so it was nice to go to a local place a few blocks away from our house where every item isn’t breaded. We are going to wait awhile for the food to be adjusted and time tested. Some of our meal was bland and there are ways to make healthy food taste great; we do it all the time at home. Monterey is a new place and they spent so much time & money getting it going, so it’s only fair to give them a chance. We didn’t see the manager/owner on our way out, so maybe he will read this and take my review as feedback.

On a side note: The main website (http://montereyny.com/) doesn’t have the full menu – it’s missing the entries!

Thanks, Anthony from Seabythecity.com

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- who has written 33 posts on LB Foodie.

I have lived in the West End of Long Beach for about 17 years now.

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37 Responses

  1. Charleen (Charlie) says:

    I was also just in there..I was there with my husband a 2 grown children. First off, we did NOT receive any homemade hummus, as you did… And we did not have the Mgr. greet us either..Our waiter was nice but the food left a lot to be desired. And our wait was even longer than yours and the place was 3/4 empty.
    Would I go back again. Maybe, but not for a long time.
    Also by your review it sounded to me as it your meal was far from being desirable also.

    Also why would you say they are a healthy restaurant if most of the menu was fried foods and mexican food? I saw nothing you would call healthy on their menu at all.

  2. Anthony says:

    Hi, well they are claiming it's a healthy restaurant. They do have whole wheat and brown rice – something that most Long Beach restaurants don't have.

    Anyways, they are new so we should just give them a chance.. they spend a ton of money on the place. I am sure after a while they will know that their food needs to be adjusted. My wife and I will probably go back at the end of the summer. I'll post a follow up review then.

  3. Stacey says:

    I was there on Saturday night, I could not believe it was the same place as the old Corbin and Reynolds, I love the light colors and lighting throughout. We waited at the bar for 10 or 15 minutes until our table was ready and that somewhat annoyed me since we had a reservation, but we were early so no big deal. I love seafood so I had so many things to choose from I had the mussels in a citrus broth that was really good , my boyfriend had the fried calamari he loved it, then we split a salad that was a little small but good. I had the chilean sea bass that was incredible , I loved the flavor and the presentation, my boyfriend had the strip steak and he said it was very tender, then we split an order of french crepes, I thought the food was great the place was beautiful and the service was ok , all and all we will definatley be back

  4. Ellie says:

    Anthony, I think you are being a bit disingenuous and not being objective and sincere in your reviews here. Maybe it’s because you are trying too hard not to offend the restaurants that you are reviewing that your reviews seem to be insincere. On one hand you say that the restaurant serves brown rice so that means it’s a “healthy” restaurant and you went on to say “what other restaurant in Long Beach serves brown rice” well every Chinese restaurant serves it and Chinese restaurants are FAR from healthy. I have not yet been to this place but I did look at the menu you provided, and that menu was filled with fried food such as the items you ordered in your review. Spring Roll, Fried Calamari, Potato Fries, Fritters, Bacon. Rare Duck Brest.. The Brown Rice don't make all the rest "healthy".
    Come on now Anthony, if you are going to review restaurants, be objective. Don’t sell them to us.

    • Anthony says:

      see my post below – but also, that was my opinion. To some people it might be the best place in the world. To some people it might be the worst. If your opinion is different then mine then write a review. You don't need to attack me that I am being "a bit disingenuous and not being objective".

      here is a summary of my review:
      1. hummus – good
      2. Southern Asian Fusion – they were fine, but not too many choices for non-seafood eaters
      3. Fllet mignon – good meat. cooked perfectly, but bland
      4. Seabass – too sweet. too much sugar
      5. no dessert.

      I don't see where I am being ""a bit disingenuous and not being objective".

  5. Anthony says:

    Hey Ellie, no offense, but I don't care about offending a restaurant. I recently wrote a piece on my blog how every diner in Long Beach sucks. I don't care if they are offended. They do suck.

    Lbfoodie has it right. I meant to give the place a chance because they've been open for 5 days when I went. I didn't say it was the best place in the world and I didn't say it was the worst. I merely said that the food was a little bland. That is coming from somebody who eats steamed veggies and brown rice all the time. If it was bland for me, it would be extremely bland for somebody who doesn't eat healthy.

    The owner told me they're still working on the menu and that it will be a "healthy" menu. Monterey had a sign on the window before they opened that said "Healthy California cuisine" or something to that effect. That is why in my review I keep bringing up the "healthy food" aspect. Maybe the food is far from being desirable to those who eat breaded fish and french fries all the time. Monterey isn't trying to be that type of place. They are going for something different. Eat some steamed broccoli once in a while and you will know what I mean.

  6. LBFoodie says:

    Ellie, I do not think that Anthony is trying to 'sell' anyone on anything – I think he is trying to give them the benefit of the doubt as he was there 5 days after they opened the door. Most reviewers will visit a restaurant a few times to average out the experience.

    With that said, I did stop in for appetizers the other day and was also wondering how the fried foods fit into the 'healthy' cuisine they were promoting. I also found the sauces a bit on the bland side and would have liked a little bite (or any bite at all!) to what I sampled. Anthony was kind enough to share his experience, but I assure you, he is no shill for the place.

    Also, like he said in his post, the menu posted is incomplete.
    – Chris, Editor

  7. honestbuttrue says:

    my husband and I ate there this past Friday nite and I doubt that we will return. The food was so bland.I love a good piece of chicken, but this had no flavor what so ever. My husbands turkey meatloaf was even if you can believe this even blander. The asparcus arrived cold as did the potatoes. They took back the potatoes, but by the time the waitor came back he told me that is how they serve this veg?????? The busboy was the worst as he asked me to pass him most everything on the table and the dessert really sucked. We ordered the "flaky apple pie" The crust was like rubber and that is being kind. the icecream on the side was actually a mare tablespoon.
    The next day I ran into someone who saw us at the restaurant and he asked me what I thought? Before I could even answer he told me his thoughts in his words "it sucked" and he felt it would only get worst. I agree. I don't truly inderstand the restarrants in LB, none of them are great. My husband and I travel to the North Shore and know we will get a good meal.

  8. Christina P says:

    Went to Monterey on a Wednesday night. Ambiance was very nice, liked the aqua tones throughout. And the restrooms were beautifully done as well. The food… Another story. Started at the bar w/ my boyfriend for a glass of wine and some appetizers. First, the wine list by the glass leaves much to be desired. Very few selections and considering how "luxurious" the bar appears, one would expect a wider variety of more "palatable" choices. Next came the apps. After ordering the salinas sliders and getting what resembled a deep fried hockey puck on a costco roll instead, the manager quickly brought over what we had originally ordered. Very tasty I must say. I asked the bartender what cucumber chips were (as well as a few other items) and she had NO clue about the menu . Needless to say, after our disappointing experience at the bar, we chose to have our dinner elsewhere… See lots of potential, Hope they get it together.

  9. honestbuttrue says:

    my husband and I ate there this past Friday nite and I doubt that we will return. The food was so bland.I love a good piece of chicken, but this had no flavor what so ever. My husbands turkey meatloaf was even if you can believe this even blander. The asparagus arrived cold as did the potatoes. They took back the potatoes, but by the time the waiter came back he told me that is how they serve this veg?????? The busboy was the worst as he asked me to pass him most everything on the table and the dessert really sucked. We ordered the "flaky apple pie" The crust was like rubber and that is being kind. the icecream on the side was actually a mare tablespoon.
    The next day I ran into someone who saw us at the restaurant and he asked me what I thought? Before I could even answer he told me his thoughts in his words "it sucked" and he felt it would only get worst. I agree. I don't truly understand the restaurants in LB, none of them are great. My husband and I travel to the North Shore and know we will get a good meal.

  10. Jane says:

    My boyfriend and I ate there tonight. I thought it was great. We were a little apprehensive about going, knowing they had recently opened and there were only a couple tables seated. We briefly looked at the menu before we decide that we wanted to stay. The staff was warm and welcoming. The menu is heavy on the fish but a patron should know that going into a place called "Monterey". The bread, and flats with hummus were great, i actually couldn't stop eating it. For dinner we had the mussels and calamari as an appetizer and the mussels were amazing the taste of the citrus broth was unexpected, the flavor of the calamari was delicious but the texture was a bit chewy, they don't batter their calamari so even the slightest overcooking is evident. We still ate the whole thing. For dinner he had the sea bass, which he said was great, not sweet at all as previously mentioned and perfectly cooked. I had the cod which is steamed in a banana leaf over veggies. The leaf infused the fish with a grassy, earthy flavor I have yet to taste in any other fish I have ever had at another restaurant, what a great idea. The portion was small, but I was happy, I really hate feeling like a fat pig when I leave a restaurant. I think we are so used to being stuffed, that we don't know what it feels like to be just satisfied. We had plenty of room for dessert. He has the banana dumpling things, it was called chinatown, they were very good and I had the forrest gump, frozen chocolate mouse with a chocolate ganache on top of a chocolate cookie. It was so good, lots of textures and different chocolate flavors from sweet to rich. Just wonderful!
    Our server was amazing. He welcomed our comments. We told him how we felt the calamari was chewy and how he felt the chef could have taken more of an advantage of the skin on the sea bass and not have cut it all off, it would have made for a nicer, thicker crust. We told him the whole meal was so light and refreshing. He told us the chef was trying to layer flavors without overwhelming the main ingredient and I think he hit the nail on the head. A delicious decadent sauce is only gonna mask the flavor of anything. Do you want to eat the sauce or the steak or fish it is poured onto? A sauce should only enhance the flavor of the food not cover it up.
    Towards the end of dinner, were the last table in there, which I hate, but the entire staff made us feel comfortable and never rushed us out the door. Maybe we had a good night, there was really no one in there so they had more time to focus on us. Maybe they learned a few lessons from previous nights before. But a lesson to everyone else, is that this is what is to be expected at a restaurant in it's opening stages. They welcome suggestions. I even told them to put comment cards in the bill folds because some people don't feel comfortable disclosing that kind of info. You can't go to a new place with any expectations, look over the menu before you sit down, that way you know what your in for and won't feel pressured to stay. There are a dozen other great restaurants within a 3 block radius to go to instead. And besides, they can only get better.

  11. Chef F says:

    Being a Chef and after hearing about this place, I decided to check it out. Yes I certainly did see many shortcomings in service and presentation of the food, and I would hardly characterize it as nitpicky. But I want to throw in my opinion. The room like everyone else said was beautiful but I was very much NOT impressed with the food. My food has been reviewed several times and I think that I am qualified to critique someone else’s.

  12. Chef F says:

    To Continue:
    . Bottom line, it wasn't my favorite meal, It kills me to give it one star….but I would have to. The food was poor and not well thought out. Maybe we were just here on a bad night.
    Also about healthy restaurants and healthy food and I wanted to put in my two cents on that subject as well. Some oils are healthier than others. Oils higher in polyunsaturates, lower in oxidants, and lower in trans-fats, are generally considered more healthful.
    You usually DO NOT find restaurants concerned with this at all. You can never trust any restaurant when it comes to cooking healthy.
    An appetizer servings of fried calamari can contain up to 700 calories. And about 50 grams of fat, by no means can you call it a healthy food.

  13. Robert says:

    I came here during one week after they opened with high expectations . I have to admit it was very mediocre and not very memorable.
    The ambiance was very charming, bit it did not match the service or the food! So ok – yes its very beautiful and great ambiance. But at the same time the menu selection was very poor. The food was very very disappointing. It was bland and sub-par. Nothing to write home about. The food was far from spectacular.
    And yes the manager did ask us how we enjoyed it, I told him the truth. It was not on my "must come back list"
    We did not even stay for Dessert…

  14. Jvazz8 says:

    I have been to this place 2 times now in the past 2 weeks. Once the first night just for drinks with some friends. Next time me and my wife sat to eat. I think Anthony is right when he says its just a week or so old so give it a try in a month or so if you didnt have a good experiance.

    Also its hard if your coming here just to read these reviews to see if you want to try it. A lot of times other resturants will post comments on other places and most of them will go somthing like "this place sucks". So take anything you read like that with a grain of salt.

    On to the show. We had been in the old corbin and reynolds and i must say they put in a lot of money into this place. It looks great colors are well done and it has ambiance to it. Kind of reminded me of the romans (i dont know why ). I think we got greated by the manager a giant of a man but a very nice personality. We had a drink at the bar and were seated in about 15 minutes. The server had a good personality but maybe could have known a bit more about the menu. Me and my wife shared an app of the calamari ( golamod to you italians ) wife thought it was great because it didnt seem to be fried , i think it was called chillian or somthing im more of an old school calamari fan and like it fried up with some sauce. Anyway it was tasty and tender. For dinner she had the chicken which was cooked very well but she said it was a bit blande, which she told to the waitress and she said would pass it on to the managment. I had the chillian sea bass which was a pleasure on my palate , cooked to perfection and im somone who has cooked a many of um. Taste was one of the best ive had only losing to the one that i ate in the restaurant Lamani in greatneck.
    For desert we shared the forestgump ( great name?) which mad me sure i would be in the gym the next morning.
    All in all everything was very good. We will be back in a month or so to see if they come up with some specials once the menu gets set. I hope it stays around we need some good food in long beach so i dont have to travel!

    Also im no word smith or writer so excuse the puncuations.

    • LBFoodie says:

      Thanks for the comment. It is nice to see a healthy back and forth on the topic, and I agree – they are a new place, and should not be judged solely on the often shaky first few weeks.

      I just wanted to respond to your remark about other restaurants posting negative items. I try my best to not allow any comments that are from fake email addresses. You will notice that I approve every comment before it is posted so that the integrity of this and all other discussions on this site are preserved. I have to sift through nearly 5 spam comments for every 1 real comment.

      And full disclosure – I am a waiter at a local restaurant, and I did not write this review. In fact most of the reviews on the site are reader-submitted. (The beer & bourbon night @ Swingbelly's, I wrote). I simply provided the platform for people to discuss the restaurants in LB, and hopefully create a community of other food loving people.

      I plan on making it easier for folks to comment on their experiences. In the meantime, everyone PLEASE submit reviews to tips@lbfoodie.com or in the comment form in the right sidebar.

      – Chris, Editor

  15. Anthony says:

    Chef F , thanks for clarifying the whole "oil" thing. I agree with you when you said "never trust any restaurant when it comes to cooking healthy. " The manager went out of his way telling us how healthy the food was, but we felt otherwise once we got to eat it.

  16. Mitch says:

    JVazz Said "A lot of times other resturants will post comments on other places and most of them will go somthing like "this place sucks". So take anything you read like that with a grain of salt. "

    And that's EXACTLY as I feel about your review.
    Just as often, peple that work ar own a restaurant do the same thing, all I can say is that I've been here and I was VERY dissapointed

  17. Anthony says:

    Mitch, I know the website YELP.COM has that problem. Restaurants will post bad reviews on their competition.
    I heard Zagat will give a good review if you buy into their whole system. What reviews can you trust these days?

    My review I guess didn't come across the way I should have. I was disappointed, but I liked the quality meat they used and they spent a boat load of money on the place. The manager was nice enough to ask for feedback and he admitted to me that they are still working on the menu. For that I will go back, but not for a while.

  18. Mitch says:

    Fair enough, I can agree with that Anthony , but as the Chef said, there were many shortcomings in service , selection and the way and the food was prepared. (DRY).
    I ahve spoken to many people that have been there since my last post here and I found that they all just about share the same opinion.
    Therefore for that reason, I feel that some of the post regarging the place being hopping and delicious, to be highly questionable.
    But as you siad, I'd give them another chance, "MAYBE" in a few months.

  19. Jinx says:

    For me, it I would not put this place on my best eateries list, The food was usually bland. During my visit, Ithe order I was given was a mistake… it was no what I ordered, but I took it anyway. It tasted a little fishy .. My wife said, she wasn't crazy about the food…and she found it kind of bland ..
    As for the ambiance, it is definitely beautiful… yest a lot of money was put into this place. . While my entrée was the wrong one, I could not help feeling cheated at the dish and portion size compared to what I get in near by restaurants was not up tp par.. I would say you should still go at least once to satisfy your curiosity. As everyone has a different opinion as far as taste goes.
    OVERALL… I'd rate it this way..:
    Décor: +++
    Ambiance: +++
    Service: ++
    Bar: ++
    Table Apperarance: +++
    Menu: Selection FAILED
    Taste: FAILD

    I give it 2.5 stars, out of 5

  20. Zach says:

    I don't know about the rest, but. the only compliment I can give this place is that the new renovation was really nice..

  21. Alex says:

    I wouldn't ask to use the bathroom in this place. A fresh coat of paint and a change in linens wouldn't dazzle me enough to support this business.
    Aside from their bland (very non healthy menu), the service was slow and the vibe was lackluster. The manager must have left his charm and customer service skills at home the evening I went. He made it as though he was doing me the favor for letting me in the door.
    I hate to break the news to him, this is a restaurant in Long Beach, not SoHo. This is a beach community. And although we may have a laid back look, it doesn't necessarily mean our wallets are lean.
    I'll happily spend my money elsewhere with local business owners who respect and appreciate their clientele.
    If they don't tighten up the ship, change the attitude and present the menu for what it really is, I can only foresee the fate of Monterey similar to that of its predecessors.

  22. Judy says:

    Wow, I must have been in a different restaurant this weekend, first of all, the bathrooms are to die for, ask any women. The staff was so welcoming and knew alot about the menu. I also note that it was made a point to let the customer know that although the establishment is quite a knotch up from many of the other restaurants here casual elegence is the theme and all atire is welcome. I am a pastry chief in Manhattan, I have eaten at Monterey twice. As I have said before, people who are only used to their food being enhanced with salt, butter, and preservatives may mistake bland for healthy, and the menu is healthy in many respects. As compared to the previous establishment, try speaking to the friendly managers and owners who are more than happy to talk about their background. Chiefs, hard workers and many years of success elsewhere. There is no comparison to previous. I was even invited into the kitchen, immmaculate!!!! When U spend years in a hot hot kitchen and can cook for large groups of people at a time, and make 98% of it right most of the time than criticize. ..

  23. Judy says:

    To continue…if you would take the time to do a little enquiring and do a background check u would note that this establishment comes from a background of chiefs and other successes. I was even invited into the kitchen, it was immmaculate, I find alot of these commments to be disingenious and will not post again. Being a chief in a competitive world I can tell u that if u dont enjoy the food and the atmosphere is probably because u came in with the attitude. When u cook in a hot kitchen for years, for large groups of people, and get it right 98% of the time than your a Foodie whatever that is. Again, as a chief, from Peper Crumps, its good eating and great desserts. The staff is very approacbable. I live here in Long Beach, its a step up…try Manhattan…you'll see .

  24. LBFoodie says:

    People, please use spell check so that your points and opinions can be conveyed clearly.

  25. chefF says:

    Ha, ha… I guess that The prestigious Chef from Pepper Crumps can’t even spell the name of the restaurant that she works in.
    And by the way what does “The staff is very approacbable.” or “approachable.” mean?
    And I would think that a 2 week old kitchen, would be “ immmaculate” Or “ immaculate”
    disingenious? Or Disingenuous! Whatever.

  26. Judy says:

    Sorry was typing on a crowded trainnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

  27. Judy says:

    Wow, the chief is an English teacher….I said I wrote it on a crowded train…that wasnt printed…and I would tell u the name of the restaurant I work in but Iam sure u would find fault with it…and the school is Peter Crumps wise guy, as if u didnt know. This place must be killing u. Anyway their review was great…and this place is always packed and the kitchen is still "immaculate"! I love the food, the staff, and the delicious Fresh desserts!

  28. LBFoodie says:

    Judy, sorry that some of your comments are taking a while to post – They have been going to the spam folder for some reason, and I do not check everyday. I will try and check more often.

    Also, I see lots of opinions in this thread. If anyone wants a forum to discuss their ideas or has an idea for a story, please email me.

  29. Princess says:

    Reading the recent newspaper review we gave it a try. Needless to say the place was really nice, the tablecloth and silerware was unusually beautiful. Yes it was a Saturday night but so what, a restaurant should be good and the service should be good as well on a Staurday night as well as on a week-night… In this case it was not busy…The host asked us if we had a reservation. We said no and then he rushed off to check to see if there was an open table. IAnd he seated us. Of course it was at one of the worst tables in the place. where there servers are constantly rushing by you on both sides. .

    So, we sat. For 10 minutes. No greeting from a waiter, no water, no drink order. Nothing. Finally, my husband noticed a table that had JUST been seated getting waited on, so we literally had to flag someone down and ask who our waiter was. He proceeded to take care of us and he was very nice. Ok, lets get to the food. The portions are pretty small and overpriced. The calamari came out dry, and over cooked. All the potions were small and not at all tasty. No I didn't complain as I should have, at that point we didn't really care.

  30. John says:

    The name of this restaurant is a bit deceiving .. The menu was not at all a "Healthy" type
    We found that – the – Food here generally comes pretty salty .

  31. […] response to my Monterey review which seems to be generating some noise from both LBfoodie.com & […]

  32. […] LBfoodie.com has a more detail on the gang fight that occurred on the beach last Friday. While you are there, check out the food reviews including my controversial (haha) Monterey review. […]

  33. Judy says:

    Anyone notice you can 86 all these reviews…Heather West….Chief from Hells Kitchen…winner 2006 is now running the kitchen…and she rocks…so I guess they fixed what ever ails you!

    • mica says:

      went tonight and her food was inedible I am now convinced that hells kitchen is a fake reality show because she was the chef from hell the food we ordered was sent back the menu was boring and bland and I would be shocked if Gordon Ramsey wouldn't have spit her food out into a garbage

  34. Scottyboy says:

    I saw a sign there tis morning that they are getting a new chef. I personally think that they need a new chef, a new manager and a new wait staff , and a new menu before this place will be any good.

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