I have a fascination with ceviche. Almost any culture–with seafood nearby–has a version of fresh fish *cooked* in acid and served immediately. And ceviche is the centerpiece of the new Bubble Bar at one of San Luis Obispo’s pillars: Foremost Wine Company. And now, the lively conversation and kitchen-interaction at the lately-silent center bar is back with a vengeance, so line up those glasses, say hi to Chef, and start ordering off the chalkboard.
Oh sure, there’s bubbles. A full range of bubbles from all over the world share equal menu-space with all the fish. Cava, Prosecco, Sparkling wine and Champagne… you name it, the bubbles available are well-chosen, fun, and poured by the glass.
Toridito is a Peruvian-style of ceviche, not seen on too many menus around here and a lively presentation of beautiful fish with vegetables and spicy garnishes. Chef Thomas Drahos creates masterful presentations of this dish with your choice of fish and sauce.
Despite the presentation at the bar with all sorts of bubbles, Foremost’s famous winelist is of course available, and I opted for a brilliant white wine to accompany the meal. Several Rieslings jumped out at me, but I picked a bottle of creamy, bright Sancerre–a masterful savory combination with both the fish and Chef Drahos’ house-made potato chips.
Nowhere on the menu are the giant, tourist-style oysters that cause a gag-reflex. These are all tiny, sweet oysters of the highest pedigree, and a tasting menu of all varieties presented an astonishing over-view of their individual textures and savory nuances. I ordered a second round.
Several vegetarian options appear, beet tartare being the one we were treated with at the grand opening. Yes, that’s only ONE LETTER from the real deal!
Oh and the ceviche’s! Choices of fish and choices of preparations caused a decided WE MUST TRY THEM ALL and I am already looking forward to my next visit to try the REST! Spicy, blisteringly fresh and nearly alive, the options here were “Verde” above, with cilantro, chilis and pickled shallots; and the “Amarillo” below, accompanied with the poached sweet potato that shows up on a couple of regular menu items.
The bar ar Foremost is ALIVE again, after being somewhat idle after the last chef transition. Chef Drahos is master of this domain, holding court with a choreographed staff to hand all these dishes over the counter to 10 lucky people. And what of the chef-change? I have heard so much whining and gnashing of teeth about the original chef leaving and much apprehension and un-knowingness about the current leadership. Let me tell you: Chef Drahos is superbly experienced to lead this restaurant, the menu is a nice combination of a few of the old standards, and with positive new moves to keep this dining spot well ahead of the cutting edge of cuisine in San Luis Obispo.
And it’s not even all fish! The Beet Tartare was noted, and quickly following is the quite-unusual Carpaccio. I consider Carpaccio one of the measuring-sticks by which all Italian restaurants are measured. This, however, is NOT your classic filet tartare with olive oil and capers. EVERYTHING has been switched up, from the cut of meat to the aioli, deep fried garlic chips and pickled asparagus. An absolute MUST-ORDER on a list of must-orders.
Oh, is it time to talk about dessert already? But I just want another order of fish! That’s not ice cream–oh no–it’s aerated sherbet in coconut mousse. And the chocolate sauce led to another dessert order: the actual chocolate cake.
And just because I want to die happy, another half-dozen oysters. Now THAT is dessert!
Listen: no restaurant in San Luis Obispo has been gossiped more about than Foremost, and I eat here about once a month–mostly just to check up on its internal ‘vibe’. Any major chef transition will have a few awkward moments, but that was A YEAR AGO and let me tell you this place is in good hands. Drahos is a seasoned master, service has always been spectacular, and I will even assure the old-timers the cheese-and-meat-board is STILL second to none. And now there’s another exciting reason to visit Foremost: The Bubble Bar is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights only AT THE BAR, ten seats only and it is an experience in fish you do not want to miss. Say goodbye to your friday-night sushi and say Hello to a ridiculous fish experience from another part of the world.