The benchmark for Sand Dabs are the ones served at the famous Tadich Grill in San Francisco. Anyone who has experienced them knows they are an extremely delicate fish that must be pan fried with a minimum of breading. So it was a great disappointment on a recent visit to Carmel to have Sand Dabs in three different restaurants that were all served with a breading so heavy you could barely taste the fish. At Nico, our fourth try, we only risked ordering them because the owner swore he used a minimum of breading. The result? Dusted with flour and pan fried with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs, these are the best Sand Dabs we've tasted since the Tadich Grill many years ago. As an appetizer, we ordered the pear and arugula salad with a very light blue cheese vinaigrette--a spectacular success. Maybe the food at Nico is so good because the owner is heavily involved in the operation. He aids his waiters in clearing the tables and is always ready to answer questions and give his opinions about menu items. The only reason Nico doesn't get an excellent rating is its wine list. There are no wines by the glass and of the 40 wines on the list, only 9 are under $40. and none are under $33.
So although the food is reasonably priced, if you drink wine, it's going to be an expensive dinner.
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