monterey county herald

Sunny Sipping

A one-of-a-kind tasting, new comfort food and various vittles.

By Mark C. Anderson
The quick verdict: The dip is a trip. The smoked brisket dipper is also pretty tasty - and a good microcosm of what’s happening at Monterey Cookhouse (831-642-9900) where I dropped in for Monday’s soft opening.

The one-time Point Joe’s parking lot was full. The menu, like the dip, goes heavy on the heavy: enchiladas, smoked meats, pastas and pizzas (and sandwiches and salads on the lunch menu). The menu says the meats are all natural and single sourced from family farms, the produce is local and sustainable whenever possible and the sauces, salad dressings and ice cream are made from scratch.

“I wanted comfort food,” owner and Carmel Valley entrepreneur Linda Cantrell told me later. “If you can’t go on vacation you can at least have a really good meal - raise your serotonin levels without costing a lot of money.”

Cantrell, who says her favorite plates include the brisket, fried chicken and pulled pork, is excited to land her liquor license in a few weeks and launch a series of festive sports nights and social evenings that play off her love for eating, cooking, and hosting: “We’ll throw a whole hog on the smoker, do seafood nights where it’s per person for crab legs, prawns, clams, or do a bunch of smoked sausages with tons of dipping sauces. And beer.”

Chef Hugo Barragan, his crew and most of the wait team are from the now defunct Gardiner’s Resort in Carmel Valley where Cantrell was a member and adored the staff.

My allies and I enjoyed the big oysters in a garlicky sauce and our smoked albacore dip went quickly as well. I took the brisket dip to go; it’s even heavier on the cream cheese than the albacore but the flavor made the health hit worth it.

“I wanted to serve comfort food,” owner and Carmel Valley entrepreneur Linda Cantrell told me later. “If you can’t go on vacation you can at least have a really good meal - raise your serotonin levels without costing a lot of money.” Cantrell, who says her favorite plates include the brisket, fried chicken and pulled pork, is excited to land her liquor license in a few weeks and launch a series of festive social evenings that play off her love for eating, cooking, and hosting: “We’ll throw a whole hog on the smoker, do seafood nights where it’s per person for crab legs, prawns, clams, or do a bunch of smoked sausages with tons of dipping sauces. And beer.”


The Monterey Cookhouse features California cuisine, a delicious fusion of cooking styles and ingredients from around the world. We are well-known for our wood-fired cuisine. Our house specialties include delicious flame broiled steaks,
lightly smoked and barbecued ribs and briskets, and fresh seafood.
Traeger Smoker - Oak-fired Grill - Wood-fired Pizza Oven - Family friendly
Barbecued ribs, brisket, & pulled pork. Oak-grilled steaks. Smoked prime rib. Fresh seafood. Wood-fired pizza.