Restaurant Report 12.18

Late afternoon snack out in Avila at OLDE PORT INN. Yeah, I know… I rolled my eyes too. Hey: When you’re out there on a nice sunny day, you can’t beat the views and service and drinks. Food will always be something I wish would step up a little. Everything is a watered-down version of great potential. Fat Cat’s is packed, Mersea’s is FREEZING and on this particular day had a band playing terribly and loudly so I sought peace and Olde Port’s sunroom worked perfect. I still think their calamari is one of the best on the Central Coast–mostly because they don’t mess with it and screw it up. It was showing in fine fashion on this visit, but the Shrimp & Crab salad was promised with “mustard vinaigrette” and it was just a huge dry pile of greens. The dressing guy had the day off. Maybe he was in the band next door. Did I ever tell you about the time I ordered cioppino here? That’s probably not something I would recommend again. Honestly, you know what I love on this menu and is probably THE bang-for-your-buck and is perfect every time and I have sat at the bar and watched literally hundreds of them made and am always impressed: The Fisherman’s Platter. Try it. The pilaf doesn’t even come out of an ice-cream scoop. Did you know the first FOUR bottles of wine are corkage-free??? I’m gonna have a wine dinner here! Who’s in?

Speaking of wine, did you know GRANADA HOTEL & BISTRO gives 50% off all bottles under $100 on Wednesdays? No you didn’t. You knew LIDO AT DOLPHIN BAY does this on Mondays, and oh boy! you can do some serious bargain-shopping on that 20-page list! But Granada’s list is no slouch either, and think about it: That ninety-dollar bottle of wine you’ve always wanted to order is 45 bucks! Pretty sure CAFE ROMA does this same thing on Tuesdays, but last time I saw their list I let out a giant sigh, and the worst part of course be actually having to eat there.

Popped in BROAD STREET PUBLIC HOUSE the other evening. Recently opened in the old WineShed location on South Broad in SLO down by Black Horse’s second location and Cromavera Winery’s new tasting room. Nice what they’ve done with the space. Shuffleboard?!?!? Vintage video games?!?!?! 15 wines on tap and at least as many beers?!?!? And there’s food. I don’t know if you remember: WineShed had a sort of take-n-bake pizza situation going on in the back they would heat up for you. This is considerably more pub-foody, with lots of yummy-looking stuff. And an entire page of tots. GIVE ME SOME OF YOUR TOTS!

Kinda down in that same part of town… The remodel on the old center on Laurel Lane where SLO Fresh Market (remember that??? Cool grocery store) appears to be complete and no signs of EFREN’S DELI III opening a location there as promised. All the signs are down and everything. Oh well. We have TACOS EL TIZON here in town now so really don’t need that mediocre Efren’s stuff.

Stumbled on a cool little bakery in Los Osos the other day. Was snooping around Baywood Tavern to see how the rumored kitchen addition was coming along and drove to the end of the block and found a tiny artisan bakery! PAGNOLE BAKERY is this cozy little place where he grinds his own flour and everything. Breads are VERY rustic, and the sweets are also not fine, delicate creations, but hearty, confiture-filled morsels dark and glazed. Try the sourdough cinnamon rolls! There’s actually chairs and tables outside, but not sure what sort of morning coffee crowd it draws… might surprise ya though.

On the subject of baking: I ordered a pepperoni pizza at CASS HOUSE GRILL in Cayucos the other day. That went well! Holy wow it has jalapeno honey on it! I also like the margherita at OCEAN GRILLE in Avila. Where do you like pizza where they’re not really a pizza-place or even an Italian restaurant?

Speaking of culinary oddities, It’s getting so I go to PUFFER’S OF PISMO for the desserts! Seriously! No, I don’t have any pictures. First of all the lighting in there makes food photography almost impossible (no, I’m not flash-guy) but usually I’m not fast enough. And it’s always something new. Let me go on record as saying I am not the world’s biggest fan of bread pudding. But you forget everything you ever thought you knew when you see Charlie’s. It’s white for starters. So instead of brown crusts of bread gooped into a pile of raisins and whatever the hell they make bread pudding with, it’s like pure white poundcake or shortcake dispersed through a cheese-cake-y firm custard. And drizzled with berry reduction.

Ok one more: because we’re talking about things I never order. I hate “French Dip”. There I said it. Not a huge sandwich person anyway, but when I DO order a sandwich, I don’t like hot sandwiches, and I like stuff in them. Vegetables, condiments, pickles–that kind of stuff. I don’t like dry bread & meat–no matter how much au jus you bring. This is the reason I don’t eat BBQ sandwiches either. But the other day I stepped off my comfort-rug and ordered the French Dip at BLUE MOON OVER AVILA. OMG. First of all, the bread’s a perfect flaky crusty puffy light dream–as you should expect from a French bistro. But that’s not really it. Sure, it comes with au jus, but I don’t think I dipped it once. It would be a crime to drown this thing. Inside are folds of the wettest, best beef loin (I’m guessin sous vide), white cheddar, grilled onions and a drizzle of horseradish cream fraiche. This is the first French Dip I have ever liked in my life.

OK, and a couple little things from last week that got in kinda late and deserve mentioning:
MCCONNELL’S ICE CREAM opened a brick & mortar in downtown SLO.
KREUZBERG CAFE’s chef for the 3rd DEVOUR SERIES will be Michael Reyes.
New pho joints in Atascadero and Orcutt! You don’t like pho? Go away and never read me again.
ROSALINA in Santa Margarita. DON’T forget Rosalina in Santa Margarita. #killingit
ROOT 246 in Solvang has a new chef and a new look and a new menu of fun stuff.
NITECAP (next to Granada) opened last weekend.

Had enough?

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