Restaurant Report 9.1

Kinda of a slow week.

FOREMOST WINE COMPANY in San Luis Obispo closed. I feel like McCain’s funeral here. Sure, there were flaws but I loved this restaurant and have both been a guest and dined independently here probably 5 or 6 times in its 2-year? 3-year? run. As much as I loved it though, conversations about its sustainability have been myriad. It started off with a bang, hiring the bestus and brightest to get off the ground. It brought us Robin Puricelli. It brought Julie Simon to the spotlight. Lannon Rust would probably have never started his own wine company without it. The whole Dream Team spatial and thematic concept under the management and design eye of mastermind Johnny Kenny. It gave us burrata and a chef’s table and a hip lounge that never felt part of the restaurant. It probably IS the reason the recent Creamery remodel makes the area such a food-and-beverage destination in SLO. And it’s gone.

ONBAR Paso Robles closed for re-branding and re-configuration. No love lost here.

Serious construction work is underway at both the former Thomas Hill Organics location and the former Baja Fresh Cool Cats Cafe Spencer Makenzie’s location in SLO.

MOON OVER AVILA has a new chef who replaces Anthony who replaced Jose Dahan.

MONGO EXPRESS or some such thing is open in Mission Mall next to Le Petit Paris (Lotus people) and looks to be Mongolian BBQ as I am used to.

Speaking of The Creamery, CIDER BAR SLO continues to be my favorite new resty in the area. Two visits in and still have large sections of the menu to discover. It is small bites, but you never go away unsatisfied. Oh and just in case you only came for cider: Ask to see the winelist. Literally THE BEST winelist between PICO and NEPENTHE. You HAVE to get into this place.

Restaurants I Love to Hate: Visit 5 or 6 to VEGETABLE BUTCHER San Luis Obispo and I have nothing new to report. Took a couple vegetarian guests from out of town and was treated to the identical meal I have had in almost all past visits: Incredible, delectable, beautiful, plate-licking good food presented by the absolute worst service in town. Standing between you and your food are horrible, ridiculous, jaw-dropping embarrassments one after another committed by the staff. Maybe they can hire the entire staff from Foremost. I SO want to recommend this restaurant without an asterisk, but it has yet to happen.

Second visit to PARDON MY FRENCH bakery in Grover Beach. Everyone raves about the desserts, but I’ve only had the croissants (pronounced CROY-SANT by all staff) and they’re *OK*. I realize the bar here is quite low for bakery-litmus such as croissant, and these are probably top-5 quality. A little heavy, a bit too much browning on the crust, but entirely enjoyable. Bought a baguette too. I don’t recommend it unless you’re into weapons of war.

Heather Muran is stepping down as Executive Director of SLO Wine Country.

SLO BREW ROCK’s new Event Center is doing inaugural events this week! Wait till you see this place. I got an inside peek at it and let me tell you San Luis Obispo has never seen a concert venue quite like this. Just STUNNING. Oh and have you eaten at SLO BREW lately? Chef Thomas Fundaro is no joke (yes the guy from Villa Creek) and the food is AWESOME both at the downtown location and at The Rock. Have you been to SLO Brew Rock? A very interesting place. Indoor-outdoor with games and stuff for the kids. Yeah, your kids can play ping-pong and ladder-ball while you drink beer and eat beef, ribs and chicken they smoke for two days out back. Win-Win.

Here’s how bad a person I am: I went to EMBER in Arroyo Grande and had notes to rave and (not quite) rant about the August menu and today is the first of September, so all that is off. Go to Ember.

Oh!!! Drifted into GROVER BEACH SOURDOUGH from our friends across the street at SPOON TRADE. One of the highlights of eating at Spoon Trade is always what sort of bread-stuff surprise Jacob will bring to the table. Well now ALL the surprises are available to purchase right-off-the-shelf hot-and-steamy at the bread outlet they have opened across the street. Have you ever had brioche made into a full loaf of bread?!?!?! Holy shit every restaurant in the county should be making sandwiches out of this stuff. You can buy his biscuits from his Biscuits & Gravy there (none of them actually made it home, being consumed out of the bag in the car pinch by pinch).

Oh I almost forgot, I have been seriously enjoying Jazz upstairs at MEE HENG LOW Noodle House in SLO. Thursday through Sunday, nice, quiet, grown-up music alongside broth so perfectly lemongrass and ginger and noodles to die for. Have you had the fried bao?!?! Hey stalker: you want to see me on Thursday night: this is where you go.

Wandered into PIEMONTE’S DELI in SLO last week. Hadn’t been in since they were still kinda bare-bones opening a couple years ago. Scanning through the meat: WAIT! THEY HAVE TOSCANO!!! This is my favorite salami by far and it has not been available in town since Muzio’s on Monterey closed.

OMG I almost forgot! I KNEW there was something else. FINALLY made it back up the new Highway 1 to Big Sur last week. There’s nothing quite like Big Sur and this is a great time to go. What a stunning drive and of COURSE had to lunch at my favoritest of all favorite lunch places: NEPENTHE. Not much needs to be said here, I suppose. You all know Nepenthe. I order straight down the appetizer menu–that is my pattern here. And the beet salad. Get the beet salad. And a basket of fries. ALWAYS get the basket of fries.

Eat your vegetables and don’t play with your food. ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE!

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