Had the opportunity to join some friends at On Bar in Paso Robles on their 4th or 5th night open. This is of course in the old Villa Creek location downtown. These people own a small restaurant in Templeton the name of which escapes me and I have never been. Aside from numerous service gaffes and menu-shortages–all of which OF COURSE are un-criticizable because the restaurant is still classifying themselves under the umbrella of “soft opening”–the meal progressed predictably for what is basically a steak house. A variety of appetizers were ordered, spring rolls were decent, a little overstuffed for sharing and awkward to handle. Brussels Sprouts were crispy to a point dangerously teetering on *burnt* and were almost completely comprised of leaves.
Pita triangles accompanied the Artichoke Dip. Completely serviceable and probably one of my favorite dishes of the night. The ‘salads’ which prefaced our mains were of an embarrassing sort, uncomplicated by anything more interesting than carrot-shavings BUT all dressings were served on the side–for the extra point. I heard a few oohs & aahs over the soups, but did not try personally.
I enjoyed seeing Prime Rib on the menu. Fairly scarce here on the Central Coast and it is nice to see someone doing it every day of the week. I have an incredible soft spot for “Prime Rib” and order it almost every time I see it on a menu. A surprise arrived here. In addition to the meat resting FAR too long (a timing glitch the restaurant did not apologize for), being tepid and WAY beyond ‘medium rare’, it arrived with a thin horseradish sauce pre-applied to the top of it. New one for me. I don’t eat my prime rib with horseradish and have always considered it an option. The scallops also showed signs of waiting in the pass an extended period of time, with tough, cold exteriors, wilted micro-greens and viscous, sticky sauce. Opinions at our large table ran the gamut from similar shortcomings to perfect agree-ability (I saw a pork chop so grey it re-defined mort).
Overall, a nice menu of hearty comfort fare destined for uncomplicated palates which are typically quite successful here on the Central Coast and certainly is a nice fit for Paso Robles. Fun, robust atmosphere in the restaurant and among the staff contributed to a nice, neighborhood feel. The wine list is composed of comfortable local favorites spiked with one or two interesting bottles along with a nice grouping of signature cocktails headed into ‘craft’ territory and judging from the energy in the bar, I predict it will be a convenient and popular watering hole for locals and visitors alike.