Friday, August 21, 2009

Dametra Cafe and the merits of dining with people who like food

There are few things I enjoy more in the world than eating. I can probably count them on one hand. Or, more accurately, two or three fingers. (One is shopping and I’m not sure I want to disclose the others.)

Okay, fine. Maybe I’ll disclose one more…

It involves a small man rubbing my feet with fragrant oil. And it may or may not result in my toenails being painted bright pink.

But moving on…

As I may have mentioned once or twice, eating pleases me. Of course, not all situations involving the satisfaction of my stomach are created equal. Some meals disappoint and fail to give me the emotional lift I seek due to inferior preparation/ingredients, sometimes poor service throws a wrench in my mouth party, and other times it’s the company that spoils the show.

Despite my clear affection for the ingestion of calories, one of my least favorite pastimes is eating with people who don’t enjoy food. Where’s the fun in shoving my own face whilst making animalistic yummy noises if there is no one around to echo and imitate my own behavior? My sociolology profs from Northwestern can attest to this – people feel more kindly toward individuals who mirror their behavior. As such, I like to surround myself with friends who aren’t afraid to do some damage to their waistlines in a sometimes indecorous way.

A week ago Friday, I had the privilege of dining with two such individuals up in Carmel, California. After a long day of working for “the man,” we were exhausted and more than a little anxious to begin making the aforementioned animalistic yummy noises. Upon the recommendation of Hemang (gmangoman on Twitter), I miraculously secured us dinner reservations at Dametra Café (I begged and pleaded), and at approximately 8:30 pm, my two co-workers and I descended upon the small Mediterranean café on Ocean Avenue.

Despite the tranquil outside setting of the sea-side town of Carmel, the scene inside the café was decidedly less so. Not only because the owners sang and played musical instruments whilst our fellow diners clapped along, but also because the incredible food inspired my party to abandon any and all table manners at the door.

Words were replaced by grunts and moans of approval as we dug into our steaming basket of freshly baked bread, and hefty appetizers of fried calamari ($9.95) and hummus and pita ($5.95). The huge, meaty strips of local calamari were unrefined in size, and even more appealing because of it. I couldn’t stop eating the tender seafood French fries and was happy to see that my companions were equally unapologetic about their inability to exhibit self control either.

With the reckless abandon of kids who don’t need to worry about securing a husband or fitting into the sample size, we filled our appetizer plates with gargantuan spoonfuls of the creamy delicately spiced hummus, and tore through the fluffy pita bread like we were carbo-loading for a marathon. If we’d been in “Girl’s Night Out” mode, we might have declared ourselves too full for more, but our bellies still begged for further sustenance. Without a whisper of the loathsome words, “I shouldn’t,” or “I have a date tomorrow night,” we each ordered full-sized entrees.

My lamb kabobs, a special of the evening ($17.95), were plump with meaty flavor, and despite the serious appetizing I’d done prior to their arrival I had no trouble plowing through the succulent pieces of flesh. At the insistence of my friend, I also sampled a bite of the four cheese ravioli ($12.95) that she declared, amidst sighs of pleasure, were the best she’d ever had. My other dining companion was less vocal about her Greek Combination Platter ($17.95), but her facial expressions disclosed equal amounts of gastronomical pleasure.
Dametra’s large portions of well-prepared, hearty Mediterranean food were exactly what we needed after our long day of work. The meal was incredibly satisfying not only because it tasted good and that’s all I have to say about that, but also because of how much my party enjoyed eating it together. Food tastes better when it isn’t qualified with “I shouldn’ts.” I much prefer sighs of pleasure and unrestrained grunts and groans.

Dametra Cafe
South East corner of Ocean & Lincoln
Carmel by the Sea, CA 93921
(831) 622-7766


Elra said...

Will definitely remember this place when we go to Carmel.

Jenn said...

Looks delish. I gotta say those are some large calamari pieces!!!

weezermonkey said...

Ahh! I wanted to go here, and Mr. Monkey did not when we were in Carmel a few weeks ago.

Sad Monkey.

Esi said...

Wow, that lamb platter looks amazing. I think you should only ever eat with people who love food!

Diana said...

Elra - You'll love it -- just be sure to make rezzies first!

Jenn - They were AMAZING. I was a little scared at first, but once I was chewing, I was a happy girl.

Sharon - Aww, next time! Where did you end up going?

Esi - Amen! You are welcome at my table anytime!

Reeni♥ said...

Delicious eats! Love that hummus swimming in a sea of oil. You are so right about dining with people who love food. People who pick at their food and eat like small birds are no fun at all!

Cafe Pasadena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cafe Pasadena said...

You work up north now?
Yeah, eating with people who wanna eat & love food - not find reasons why they don't wanna eat something - is wunderfu!

Hemang said...

I'm SO honored that you liked my suggestion so much you firstly ate at the eatery, and secondly wrote a review about it!

Thanks! It means a lot! hahah. :D

this is Hemang, Gmangoman on twitter, btw.

Thanks again! Hopefully I'll have more to come. Sounds like you had a lot of fun there!

Anna A. said...

Wild calamari, hummus and lamb?! Can I come with next time? Pleeaassseee.

Nicole said...

omg i am drooling over that hummus!

Gastronomer said...

No wonder you weren't stoked about returning to L.A. Eating with gusto > quinoa vegetable stir fries! We're glad to have you back though!

Diana said...

Reeni - No fun at all! They are the biggest wet blankets!

Cafe Pasadena - Actually, I was just up there for a business trip. I'm still down in LA!

Hemang - I am so appreciative for your wonderful suggestion! It was the perfect place that night. And nice that everything was very reasonable as well.

Anna - Heck yeah! The TALFs take Carmel!

Nicole - You would have loved it! There was a salad on the menu that also sounded right up your alley as well.

Cathy - Eating with gusto KILLS the snot out of eating quinoa and veggies! Though I still am a fan of eating that with gusto too!

Jeannette said...

Yes, we ate there last night. Carmel restaurants are often over rated... and some quite expensive, but this one is definitely fun and the food good as you remember. Perhaps if you had been there yowling about yumminess, it would have even been more fun...there were a few diners who seemed uncomfortable with the music and the enthusiam of the friendly atmosphere. But tell the truth, were you and your lady friends really there to see all the handsome and friendly waiters?