Apparently, it’s Restaurant Month–that most hated of events for chefs and staff alike. Why is it always in January? Is is because everyone is broke after Christmas and no one goes out? Is there up-sale potential? Maybe in beverage. SLO is January, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez up the ante a bit–paring it down to one week though–by capping the price at $20.19 get it? Get it? See, $20.19 is the… oh nevermind. I don’t typically participate in these “deals”–saving them for the coupon-clipping demographic who tip 10% on the dot. Speaking of tipping, it is especially important during Restaurant Month–or ANY TIME you are getting a deal–to tip adequately. Remember, it takes the same amount of service energy, dishes and napkins to bring you a $12 app, $28 entree, $14 dessert and a bottle of wine as it does to bring you 3-courses and a wine-pairing for 40 bucks. And remember that throughout the year: if you get any kind of a discount, if you get any kind of a comp, you need to tip through the entire perceived amount. OK, sermon over. Enjoy Restaurant Month. I haven’t even looked at THE SCHEDULE this year.
I went to SIDECAR for dinner. Never been there for dinner before. Hundreds of lunches but was downtown for something and a couple options backfired and decided to try Sidecar for a full-on-formal. It’s REALLY nicely done. I have to be honest: I stopped going to Sidecar a year or so ago when they gutted their winelist and went completely canned and tap. And I said some fairly un-nice things about them at the time for this decision. Well, I am happy to announce that whole situation has righted itself, and we are back to a short, concise, very workable bottle-list with everything available BTG. Their interpretation of steak-frites: a hanger and fingerlings is AMAZING, heavily marinated, crusty around the edges, and bedded into perfect greens. A note to done-phobes: This thing is designed to be cooked. I ordered it MR and I could *possibly* see people who still like their beef deep pink taking issue. Might wanna start with ‘Rare’. I thought it was perfect for the cut and presentation.
On the subject of Sidecar, alcohol notice up at the new location over on the creek. Here’s a funny one: I found an empty park in front of the new location the other day and was sitting texting and emailing for a minute in my truck with the window down. Literally EVERYBODY who walked by, EVERY ONE–old, young, trendy, not, grandmas, hipsters, cowboys, polly-dolly, construction worker, bro, businessman, everybody–knew who Josh is and the restaurant and stopped and had a conversation about him, the current location, future plans and usually spiced it with some memory of former eateries in the creekside location. Fascinating social science.
Speaking of bars, someone is painting inside GAS LIGHT… errrr MANUELS. Yeah, that place. I’ve always said, if some young blood would pop that thing into a hipster-dive cocktail Whiskey & June sorta thing-a-ma-bobber, you could PRINT MONEY in this neighborhood.
Morro Bay Beat:
GRAPE LEAF DELI & MARKET in Morro Bay is back open after a family emergency.
BRICKHOUSE BBQ is temproarily closed as they make the move up into Giancarlo’s old digs on Morro Bay BLVD. Looks like they are taking both halves. Work was going on in earnest yesterday, but the inside is quite rough. Wonder how long it will be.
Popped in to GRILL HUT the other day snooping for BBQ. They have tri-tip and pit-beef–all on sandwiches–so opted out.
HIGH TIDE DELI and KRAVABOWL are open on the main drag down into town.
Finally got into BEACH BURGER MORRO BAY since their move from Oceano. Is the Oceano location still open? I heard it was for a while, but honestly don’t get down that way very often. Beach Burger was good, as usual. Everything normal, and of course THE BEST water-front location in Morro Bay hands down. I have loved that little 2-top center of the window for DECADES, through Hof Brau and DiStasio’s and even once while it was that horrible place the family from Fresno opened. The name is thankfully forgotten. That whole little mall is food now. Remember it used to be surf-shop or something? Now it’s all food. There’s a tiny espresso shop on one side and an ice-cream & chocolate place on the other, with Beach Burger in the back.
Old news, but DISTASIO’S ON THE BAY has moved (twice) up into that beautiful bank building that was the “French” furniture store forever. I always kinda had a soft spot in my heart for DiStasio’s. Pretty sure I heard the original in Los Osos is closed?
Did someone say Los Osos? The Sculpted Egg is closing and more rumblings about the old Baywood Alehouse (NOT Baywood Tavern!) people putting something in over behind the Shell Station. I drove by and peeked in the windows and saw nothing indicating a restaurant, so…
Rumors were flying hot and heavy SHAW’S STEAKHOUSE in Santa Maria burnt down last week. OK, so the fire was next door but Shaw’s suffered heavy damage. The website lists them open, but based on the pictures on the news, I don’t see how that could be possible.
Hotel Serra is actually starting to look like a building, with windows and exterior cladding installed. The website lists many things to expect from BRASSERIE SLO, including verbiage along the lines of “Best restaurant in SLO” at least three times on the one page. Hey, I’m all about dreaming big. James Anderson is the chef, down from the peninsula, including a stint at Casanova. He’s here full-time now getting things ready for a JUNE opening.
Down the street and around the corner… Mongo Madness in Mission Mall is “Closed for renovation”. What were they open for, 2 months? Never heard of Mongo Madness? Mongolian BBQ. Remember those things in the 90’s: big salad bar, huge 6-foot iron skillet they throw your meat on and work deftly in a circle? I only mention this place because it’s not *horrible* food and if you lay off the oils and dressings can be ridiculously healthy, even vegetarian–though the really angry versions of that diet are all “Ewwww, they cook MEAT on that thing I WILL DESTROY THEM ON YELP AND BE SAD.”
Good news next door, though. LE PETIT PARIS appears to be over its juvenile floundering and is headed in the right direction under fresh new blood. I have wandered in–and promptly out–several times in the past months since their opening, disappointed by a huge list of things that send up red flags when I make these kinds of visits: Dis-orderly dining room, lack of staff, no prices, harried managers, discombobulated POS, vague menu, no alcohol, training in progress… ALL these things have prevented me from eating at easily MY MOST ANTICIPATED restaurant to open around here in years. We NEED a French Bistro downtown. Walked in the other day, everything was cool, calm, and collected. Several people were enjoying their lunches at table or bar, and everything looked good-to-go. Chatted with nice kid who has taken over and it seems to be in VERY capable hands. Had a beautiful salade Niçoise with a glass of Cotes de Provence Rose (of course). Fresh tuna, fabulous mustard vinaigrette, proper wine. GRAND OPENING is January 19, that’s a Saturday.
Another event on the 19th you should probably pencil in: the 18th Annual ESPRIT DU VIN in Paso Robles put on by the folks at 46-East Wineries. 40 bucks for all their member wineries–I think there’s 19–under one roof at the brand new San Antonio facilities on Wisteria Lane behind Lowe’s. Have you SEEN this place??? Been watching it get built and WOW. Anyway… Lots of food, gourmet desserts and cheese LOTS OF CHEESE Saturday evening January 19. You can’t even go to 2 tasting rooms for 40 bucks. TICKETS HERE
My meal at Le Petit Paris–and subsequent conversations–sparked a little poll I did on the facebook about what constitutes a “Bistro”–at least in America. The results were fairly predictable: steak frites, moule frites, Niçoise salad, cheap wine, good espresso, bread & pastries, and a few comments noting things rarely seen in the US, like wicker chairs, pastis, petit déjeuner… with a few responses completely out-of-whack with reality #becausefacebook and whiny middle-Americans.
Hayley Cain announced a much-expected stepping-down from Food Editor at New Times. Writing’s been on the wall for a LONG TIME on this one. So let’s do the math. KMH is gone, Wendy Thies Sell is gone, Teri Bayus is gone, Jaime Lewis is gone, Hayley Cain is gone… That leaves Katy Budge? All hail the freelancers.
Mark Adams is playing PUFFER’S OF PISMO 2/9 Don’t know who Mark Adams is? One time space man, multiple-voted *winemaker to watch* at insider-favorite Ledge Wines. Yeah, you should probably know who Mark Adams is.
I got dragged to breakfast the other day after the Avila Beach Polar Plunge which barely gets your nipples hard at 55° and visited an old friend: FAT CAT’S CAFE. I’m not much of a breakfast person, so tagged along for the massive mimosas and of course the menu looked too good to resist. What a gem that little place is. Not open 24 hours anymore, but fairly early til quite late. I’ve been known to pop in there after everything else in town has closed for their crazy chocolate desserts, cheesecake and the like.
ROSALINA Santa Margarita is closed until the 10th. Relax, it’s not permanent or anything–just taking a break.
Tune in next week when we discuss microwave bacon.
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