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“Hottest new restaurant in Carmel” 4 of 5 stars
Review of La Balena

La Balena
Junipero between 5th and 6th, West Side, Carmel, CA
831.250.6295
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Ranked #9 of 152 Restaurants in Carmel
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Reservations, Late Night
San Antonio, TX
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Hottest new restaurant in Carmel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2013

Small and charming restaurant. The best gnocchi I have ever tasted. Excellent fried chicken but only available 2 nights a week. Request outside seating because on a crowded night the inside is very noisy.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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128 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    87
    24
    9
    4
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Castle Pines, Colorado
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Best restaurant in Carmel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2013

Very busy place, but we felt well-cared for. We had to wait a few minutes for our table, but not too bad. Octopus appetizer was out of this world. I've had octopus in other places, including Italy, but it was never as tender as here. Then mint agnoletti with lamb ragu. I wanted to lick the plate. Highly recommend for authentic Tuscan food.

Visited September 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Not so great....”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2013

This place was recommended to us by one of the wine tasting rooms. We called and made reservations for the same night. When we arrived at the restaurant the place was busy. We waited for a little while outside and were ignored by the wait staff. After about 5 minutes we decided to go inside and finally someone noticed us and said hello. We had the choice dining on the patio or inside. We decided on the patio. Another ten minutes went by and finally our waiter showed up to bring us a menu and a wine list. Not very attentive. We decided on a wine. About ten minutes later the waiter show up with a different bottle to let us know that they were out of the wine we ordered. We decided to go with his recommendation and the wine was fine. He promised it would be the same price. We ordered the grilled octopus based on reviews. We told the waiter that we needed a few more minutes to decide on the main course. We had a few question but the waiter could not explain the dishes on the very confusing menu. Descriptions are half Italian and half English but not very clear to understand. I am from Germany have travelled all over Italy but hadn't heard of many of the items. Frustrating that the waiter could not help. Well...our grilled octopus arrived and the waiter had still not taken our order for the main course. Strange...the octopus was grilled nicely but had to much vinegar on it. Average at best. The pasta that we finally could order after waving our waiter down was not "al dente" over cooked and salty. The ragou for the gnocchi was very salty too. Not good at all. We saw the waiter once during this whole time and that was when we had to wave him down to place the order for our main course. Considering the price level of this restaurant this was all over a really disappointing evening. We will not return! Oh did I mention that the wine was $3 more than the one we ordered? I know no big deal more a matter of principal!

  • Visited September 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Excellent”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2013

Authentic Tuscan cuisine and a caring staff.. One of he best restaurants in Carmel. Worth making reservations for (you'll need them well in advance most times).

Visited December 2012
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Houston, Texas
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Excellent!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2013

This is a small very busy restaurant in Carmel. The food was excellent. There were 5 of us and we all ordered an entree and split 5 apps. The octopus is a must order. The Osso Buco entree was amazing! Best lamb I've ever had. The desserts were ok. Wine list was great. Our waiter even let us try a bottle only wine when we were trying to decide if we wanted it or another bottle and he was completely ok when we chose the other bottle.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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