Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar in Pacific Grove

by foodhoe on December 28, 2015

542 lighthouse ave, pacific grove ca 93950 | 831.920.2662 | website

jenini

Last week Mr. K and I went on a weekend trip to Pacific Grove, one of our favorite getaways because it is just a couple of hours drive away, has many excellent restaurants and stunning views in just about any direction you look.  We stayed at a bed and breakfast (which obviously includes breakfast), but I was looking for something more exciting than french toast, so we decided to check out a new (to us) restaurant called jeninni kitchen + wine bar in Pacific Grove that just started serving brunch the day before.  The menu online looked very intriguing, a contemporary take on the sultry cuisines of the mediterranean coast – with a special emphasis on southern Spain.  Once I saw this photo on their Facebook page of a delicious looking crispy potato cake, I made reservations.

jwb_interior

The restaurant is sleek and modern with warm craftsman touches.  I began our meal with a cuppa joe, freshly brewed just for me.  It was so good and aromatic, a tonic to wake up my tastebuds.

jwb_coffee

Our server recommended we try the Niño Gordough Donuts ($4), which are made fresh in-house, and I couldn’t resist the one with coconut glaze.
jwb_donut
It was totally fresh out of the fryer, pillowy tender and drenched with a coconut glaze, which Mr. K thought was too sweet, but it was perfect in between sips of the freshly brewed coffee.

jwb_donut_inside

I ordered the Polenta ($9.5), with spinach, crispy mushrooms, herbs and poached egg. All of the components were cooked separately, the mushroom slices had a nice chewy texture that was so good mixed in the rich velvety egg yolk and creamy polenta, filled with tender spinach that made it seem a bit healthy.  It was like a big warm and delicious hug.

jwb_polenta_eggs

Mr. K was adventurous and had the Huevo Y Migas (9.5), with chorizo, moje verde and thin slices of manchego cheese.  The poached egg was served over crunchy croutons, a traditional Spanish preparation that makes use of leftover bread or tortas, and not the usual tortillas as we were expecting.  Mr. K really liked this dish, the chorizo was spicy and chewy, the croutons were robust and crunchy, the cheese added a salty rich pungent flavor all tied together with the piquant mojo sauce.  A note though, we would have liked two eggs, so next time will have to remember to request an extra.

jwb_migas

I ordered a side of the Benton’s Bacon (3.5) an exceptional product that is described as a slice‏ of heaven.  We had to ask about it later in the meal and it arrived after we finished, but who can resist bacon for dessert?

jwb_bacon

A digression about our dinner the night before: we dined at the gorgeously atmospheric Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, but found that we were not into the new menu and left after a few appetizers.  We stopped off at our old standby Crystal Fish Sushi, and found the boisterous vibe to be completely changed at the sushi counter  (our chef never made eye contact and we had to order everything through the waitress), although the quality of the fish was still excellent.   So after a disappointing night before, we liked our brunch so much that we came back for dinner the same day.  The main downtown area was all lit up and festive with holiday cheer.

pacgrove

We were greeted and recognized by proprietor Thamin Saleh, who was glad to welcome us twice in a day!  Saleh is from Jenin, a Palestinian city on the West Bank and he described the menu as being primarily tapas with a Lebanese touch.  A glossary at the bottom of the menu describes the many Middle Eastern spices and ingredients in the dishes, including za’atar, dukkah, and chermoula.  He was very helpful in describing the dishes in greater detail, giving us  recommendations and we loved each dish that we were served.  He said that the chef prepared the mushroom caps like escargot, and we inhaled the Champifiones Al Ajillo ($8) which were filled with a delicious parsley garlic oil that was totally addictive.

jwb_mushrooms

He also recommended the Crispy Octopus (16), which was incredibly tender and encased in a lovely delicate fried shell, served with fresh greens dressed in a sweet and spicy dressing made with calabrian chile and lemon mermelada.  We couldn’t get over the delicate succulence of the octopus.

jwb_octopus

The Shawarma Pork Buns (11) were amazing, thick slices of slow cooked belly dusted with fragrant spices, pickled chili + pomegranate molasses, smeared with tangy yogurt sauce and enfolded in a pillowy tender steamed bun.  That was one tastebud tantalizing combination, we loved the unexpected fusion of flavors.

jwb_porkbellybuns

Another excellent dish was the Brussels Sprouts (8), chorizo sauce + pickled raisins, which was super flavorful and had many wonderful textures topped with toasted freekeh, which added an exhilarating nutty flavor and satisfying crunch.  We must return to check out more of the menu, the mussels with tahini, the now legendary eggplant fries, and mejadara dishes all sound worth a return visit for.

jwb_brusselsprouts

Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We stayed at the the Martine Inn, a wonderful B&B with amenities such as parking, beautiful views, and is just a few blocks away from historic Cannery Row, the Aquarium and other tourist delights.  There was a sitting room across the hall from our room with binoculars and comfy seats where you could sit and look for whales.

pacgrove_view

We rented kayaks and paddled around Monterey Bay in the rain, because I needed to work off that donut and bacon…

monterey

We saw large numbers of harbor seals, sea lions, otters while we paddled about.

monterey_bay

The weather was very temperamental but we went walking around in beautiful Point Lobos, which has fabulous tide pools, although we got there when the tide was rising.

pointlobos2

The views are breathtaking, and the weather alternated between rainy, foggy, windy and cold and then the sun would shine through for a moment.

point lobos

It’s a lovely spot to hang out.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa December 29, 2015 at 6:22 am

Great food and lovely views!

Best wish for 2016.

Cheers,

Rosa

Reply

Carolyn Jung December 29, 2015 at 8:44 am

What a fun trip especially at this festive time of year. Thanks for introducing me to some real gems like Jeninni. I love how it combines the modern with the traditional. And do those pork buns look amazing. Happy holidays!

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grace December 31, 2015 at 5:50 am

lovely indeed! the coconut glaze on that donut sounds tailor-made for me! 🙂

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Shikha @ Shikha la mode January 3, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Those doughnuts are calling my name!

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Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat January 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Oooh, you guys always take the best day trips. I want to tag along one time! LOL. I’ve never thought of Pacific Grove, sounds like a neat place to escape, and glad to know there’s at least one good dining option to try!

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Rowena January 8, 2016 at 12:42 am

Gorgeous scenery and incredibly delicious-looking food as always. Here’s to another 12 months of yummy things – Happy New Year!

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JKK May 7, 2016 at 10:12 am

Nice report on Jennini! We were there in May 2015 and loved it. Chef Jeffrey Weiss is a recipient of the prestigious ICEX scholarship and really knows his stuff. A shame you missed those eggplant fries, but a good excuse to go back, LOL.

If you want to eat well in Monterey, try Montrio. We consider it as good as Passionfish/PacGrove, meaning we rank them tied as #1 for dining in Monterey.

Reply

foodhoe May 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

Thanks JKK for visiting and your kind words! I don’t think we’ve eaten at Montrio, and it’s been a while since we went to Passionfish, which means it’s time for a return visit!

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