In 1974, Gaston and Walter Georis opened Le Boheme on the corner of Dolores and 7th Avenue in Carmel, California. A few years later, the Belgian-born brothers sold La Boheme to a member of their waitstaff and went on to establish the restaurant Casanova a few blocks away. When they were able to reacquire the Dolores Street space around 2010, La Bicyclette was born. Recently, in 2014, the brothers amicably split the businesses, with Gaston remaining responsible for La Bicyclette and Walter handling Casanova.
When talking about a possible day trip, Lena and Art suggested La Bicyclette, a favorite of theirs from years past. Yes, Carmel is a long way to go for dinner but we no longer have to take kids to track meets or rehearsals or monitor homework, so it was an easy and fun thing to do. We left the City around noon and arrived in plenty of time to walk around town and explore the many galleries and shops on and off Ocean Avenue. We also had time to admire the many Golden Retrievers and Bulldogs also strolling the boulevard. In fact, we had a bit too much time, because even though our dinner reservation was for 5:30pm, we were at the door of the restaurant when they opened at 5pm, ready to dine. Once the sun starts going down, there isn’t much to do in Carmel but eat and drink.
The restaurant is cozy and warm with a lot of wood and quirky decor. The menu is pretty standard bistro food, but there were a lot of specials that were recited by the server.
Ken had the one special that was provided in print, the Cannelloni “Frederico.” This is house-made pasta rolls, stuffed with wood-fired hanger steak, ricotta, and portobello mushroom. It is baked in a pomodoro & red wine sauce and served “au gratin” with cheddar and topped with shaved black truffles. Ken said the steak was surprisingly tender and flavorful. He loved the dish, but he loves everything with cheese. I think they had him at “au gratin.”
Lena ordered the Lamb Duet. This dish featured a small roasted rack of lamb and lamb-farro risotto. The rack was excellent, but Lena found the farro too rich.
Both Art and I went for the Chateau Sirloin. For me, the meat was cooked perfectly, precisely medium rare as ordered. The prosciutto wrapped around the sirloin was lean and crispy. Art said that his meat was cooked rare enough, but it probably could have been rarer. For some reason, many restaurants don’t believe that he really wants his meat that “rare,” or maybe it has something to do with food safety codes. The accompanying asparagus and chanterelle mushrooms were divine, but any vegetables cooked in that much butter would have been equally delicious.
The best part of the meal, though, was dessert. Once the staff had cleared the table, we weren’t offered a dessert menu but had to ask for one. That was odd, but the apple tartine with vanilla gelato and the chocolate mousse were wonderful. Each was large enough for the 4 of us to share comfortably. In fact, we were a bit shocked by the size of the chocolate mousse bowl, but we ate it all.
If you have a free day and feel like a lovely drive to the beach, I would definitely recommend La Bicyclette. I think we need to try Casanova as well. Do you have any other favorites in the Carmel and Monterey area?
La Bicyclette: Dolores & 7th, Carmel. Open every day. Breakfast 8:00am – 10:45am, lunch 11:45am – 3:30pm, dinner 5:00pm – 10:00pm. Reservations by phone only at 831-622-9899.