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“Best restaurant in Carmel”
Review of La Balena

La Balena
Ranked #37 of 156 Restaurants in Carmel
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Local cuisine
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Castle Pines, Colorado
Level Contributor
35 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Best restaurant in Carmel”
Reviewed September 6, 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
Thank Susan Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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251 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Not so great....”
Reviewed September 4, 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
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
4 Thank subway1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carmel, California
Level Contributor
73 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
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
Thank JonSCalifornia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
51 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank MLP1031
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sunnyvale, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Food was average”
Reviewed July 27, 2013

Was very busy but my server was here and there. The octopus was good, but my main was undercooked. Would not come back for the price of the food.

Visited July 2013
Thank Katie C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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