On the Grill

Kurt's Carmel Chop House

The last thing you expect from a place called KURT'S CARMEL CHOP HOUSE is a perfect tuna fillet. But when a glance at the menu revealed "grilled ahi, wasabi rubbed, with baby artichoke risotto and garlic cream," I left the meat to my friend, whose magnificent 22-ounce porterhouse came cooked black-and-blue as requested. That's the beauty of this enlightened California steakhouse: Owner and executive chef Kurt Grasing (who also owns nearby Grasing's) is as adept at the creative seasonal idiom as he is with chops. Co-owner Narsai David's all-California wine list also has a dual personality: Along with plenty of big bold reds, he offers rare vintages from the 1960s and '70s, before the current standard of wines with "gobs of jammy fruit." Dinner, $80. Fifth and San Carlos St., Carmel; 831-625-1199.