There are times we could all use an escape to the Mediterranean. And for those times where life needs to slow down to enjoy simple pleasures such as good company and delightful cuisine, might I suggest stopping by Taste Café & Bistro. Taste Bistro: The table This delectable meal was demolished in short order by two delighted diners. This delightful yet unassuming bistro in Pacific Grove is by far a best kept secret of Monterey County and offers a delicious reprieve from the everyday hustle and bustle – no matter how your day is shaping up or how far out your next visit to the French Riviera is. Taste Bistro: Exterior Taste's unassuming exterior, at the corner of Forest and Prescott in Pacific Grove. Taste’s exterior is unassuming — it’s an exercise in stealth. However, once you enter you are greeted by charming Mediterranean touches, like frescoes on the ceiling, menu chalk boards, and a copper clad exposition kitchen. Skylights let in sunshine that was just as warm as the smile of the woman who greeted us. Taste Bistro: Dining room Taste's charming interior. Taste Bistro: Ceiling detail A delightful ceiling fresco. This bistro is owned/operated by a husband and wife team whose culinary expertise shines through. The menu is filled with tantalizing fare such as Escargot Bourguinonne, local produce, Monterey County wines and hand crafted specials I could tell were going to put the “ooh la la” in my lunch. Taste Bistro: Garlic basil pasta Mouth-watering penne pasta with tomatoes, pine nuts, basil cream and cheese. I opted for the grilled eggplant sandwich that was adorned with smoked gouda cheese, roasted red peppers, kalamata olive aioli and caramelized onion on toasted foccacia – which I believe they make “en maison.” My discerning vegetarian dining companion was happy to find they offered an abundance of options that suited her palate and ordered a penne pasta with tomatoes, pine nuts, basil cream and grana cheese. Both of our entrees were under $12. Taste Bistro: Portobello mushroom sandwich This divine eggplant sandwich exceeded all possible expectations. Quite honestly, I was not expecting this caliber of cuisine. My sandwich was phenomenal. The flavors of the grilled eggplant and melty smoked gouda were accented perfectly by the roasted peppers and light tang of the kalamata aioli (which was more of a creamy tapenade). Light and perfectly toasted foccacia provided a textural component that went well with the softer elements of the sandwich. Alongside it was a tasty bonus: gratin potatoes that were layered with roasted garlic and grana cheese. “Mon Dieu!” So, my fellow diners, if you are seeking a café that delivers “fantastique” food, a capable wine list and hosts an unassuming yet cheerful atmosphere (for lunch and dinner), consider this quaint venue to put the Mediterranean mindset into your day. I’ll most certainly be going back for another Taste. Taste Café and Bistro 1199 Forest Avenue (at Prescott) Pacific Grove 831-655-0324 Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30—2:30 and 5:00–9:30.