Impeccable food, wine and service are the name of the game at the (almost) year old Pacific Grove gem jeninni kitchen + wine bar.
Seasonal menu items such as Spanish tapas, Mediterranean mains and charcuterie plates at jeninni kitchen + wine bar bring a surprising urban energy to downtown Pacific Grove. Peek into the open kitchen where stovetop flames radiate from the chef' latest edible installment before grabbing a seat upstairs at the sleek tile and wood bar, or a table for two in the modern dining room on the main floor.
Owner and sommelier by trade, Thamin Saleh and Chef Jeffrey Weiss are the dream team when it comes to serving up sensational wines with culinary delights. Thamin's extensive wine background is apparent in the ever changing wine list featuring over 90 selections! Chef Jeffrey's training in Spain and time spent with James Beard award-winning chef Jose Andres have fully developed his skills as a Mediterranean food god.
The duo's intimate 34-seat dining room and 14-seat wine bar have been the talk of the town since first opening bringing new flavors and combinations not yet seen on the Monterey Peninsula, all of which I experienced on my recent visit with some friends.
Jeninni's beverage service is not standard by any means. The extensive wine list, imaginative wine cocktails, craft beers and sodas are refreshingly unique; even the water is purified in-house! It's safe to say you won't be ordering a Pepsi at this place, and why would you want to with such delectable options?
I started off with their signature sin-gria which smelled like a nostalgic cherry Lifesaver! The sinful potion tasted like a refreshing and fruity summer version of Christmas mulled wine.
A must try is the craft gin and tonic cocktail served with cucumber; this drink could easily get me into trouble, luckily this gin has a lower alcohol level than the norm!
Now that we were hydrated it was time to eat! May I just say that the seasonal menu alone is a work of art? The simple (yet at times hard to pronounce) choices make this all the more intriguing. Thankfully there is a glossary at the bottom to fully explain unfamiliar terms and ingredients to ease any intimidations.
We started with a Greek inspired heirloom tomato salad with huge chunks of Feta cheese, olives and basil. The entirety was perfectly seasoned with a savory olive oil dressing.
Soon it was time to move over to some serious proteins. House-made chorizo sausages came out piping hot with a side of smoke apple puree and garlic aioli. The garlic aioli was phenomenal and gave the chorizo a much needed kick.
The show stopper amongst are group were the finger-lickin' good chicken wings, not be confused with those found at your local drive-thru. These wings were moist yet crunchy and zesty yet sweet all in one; I may even dare to say that they were the best that I have ever had!
Knowing Jeffrey's background and his recently published 400 page book on the art of Charcuterie and Spanish flavors, I was especially anxious to get my hands on his authentic Catalan Paella dish. The presentation alone earned five stars in my book. Savory rice, corn and chicken were topped with fresh arugula and full-bodied prawns.
The key to paella is to scoop up a hefty serving, top it off with a dollop of honey garlic aioli and finish it off with a fresh squeeze of lemon. The best part of all was the caramelized pieces left at the bottom of the pan, delish!