Had a nice little chat with the new owner of Linnaea’s before popping over to Brasserie SLO for a cocktail and then La Locanda for dinner. Literally a Garden Street afternoon. She mentioned a few menu tweaks and a new direction in coffee-sourcing. The big question will be of course WHEN DO THE REAL DESSERTS START? because if you’ve ever had cake at Bell’s you know what I’m talkin ’bout. Also hoping some of Bells’ fastidious coffee-programme has rubbed off. If she does start baking, Brasserie SLO‘s pastry situation across the street–and their forever-unopened pie shop–will be in big trouble. Speaking of which, the newly-sold Hotel Cerro has retained the general manager on the hotel side, but got a new one down in the resty. Also a new bar-lead, who is a powerful bartender.
Deciding to visit the cozy Italian spot next door turned out to be a good choice. I run about 75/25 on La Locanda… usually having a lovely meal but occasionally hitting some real dogs. I still say their duck breast and ossobuco smells and tastes like electrical fire, so I stay off the secondi menu and stick to all the other home-made deliciousness. Another plus: the winelist has been re-vamped with all California wine removed. What a fabulous decision MANY other restaurants would be applauded for–at least by the right people. And it’s a great little list–completely non-blingy: no Sassacaia, Gaja, Not a single Tenuta Sette Ponti product, no franciacorta, no Carpineto, barely a super-tuscan mention! VERY refreshing. Also ONLY Italian beer.
Around the corner, Monika’s Macarons is still open and serving, though from nearly a block away ALL you can see is a huge real-estate banner completely obliterating her front window in abandoned-building fashion. She has resorted to a variety of obvious OPEN notations situated around said banner until her move to Chorro St. is complete, but it doesn’t look healthy.
Speaking of real estate banners, the even massive-er one across the front of KULT is gone, and next door, rumors of another urban market going in at Park 1039. That would certainly put all those beautiful refrigerators to good use, rather than just storing wine they don’t serve. Is Chef Antonio’s pop-ups even still going on? Haven’t seen anything for a while. I’m not sure SLO can be trained–or even if there IS ENOUGH downtown dwellers–to use an urban market. This will be our second, with Larder Market establishing itself in Mission Mall about a year ago. If you’re familiar with non-touristy parts of Europe or even the older metropolitan sections of the US, you know these little markets are tucked into low- and hi-rise residential and mixed-use neighborhoods on every corner. They tend to be a lot more informal, inexpensive and utilitarian than the versions we see in polished little ports like San Luis Obispo or other coastal towns where the vast majority of residents are located out near supermarkets. Think: laundry soap, a few apples, a baguette and a bottle of wine–NOT wagyu beef, un-pasturized oat milk and $60 cookbooks.
Speaking of Mission Mall, “casual Peruvian” might be going in to the old Lotus and Le Petite Parisian spot. Would this be the girl in Sidewalk Market? That food’s excellent. I’m guessing it’s not chef Nico at Mistura. I love that spot and always felt it has the MOST potential–so beautiful and relaxing, though no one has ever capitalized on a ‘creekside dining’ situation. Maybe it’s illegal. And Mission Mall’s new remodel and beautification is LOVELY. But somehow, even established vendors just can’t seem to get people to go back there and dine. Hope that changes. Not saying ‘casual Peruvian’ is going to be THE thing changing everything, but hey…
I know I promised a listing of bars grown-ups can drink around town, and every time this subject comes up it is met with enthusiasm from real demographics, but the list isn’t growing and had some setbacks to my original outline I planned on scribbling. Kreuzberg’s incredible Lounge is temporarily closed for some re-structuring, I ran into some ridiculous 20-something’s-with-strollers-and-unruly-dog situations inside Rod & Hammer yesterday, the rooftop at Cielo HAS NO BAR!!!! (sorry, that was a shocking discovery), and HighBar at Hotel SLO plonked a stack of PIZZA BOXES down in the middle of my table. BLONDE has droves of Fresno middle-schoolers screaming in the pool while downstairs the lobbies (and bars) of Vespera, Inn at the Pier and Piadina reek of HVAC-injected perfume, What’s that leave?
Nightcap at Granada
The Whiskey Lounge at The Carrisa (fri-sat evenings only)
Koberl at BLUE with the best app menu in town
Tetto at Piccolo in Paso and
Pig Iron in Templeton
Ox & Anchor
Mason Bar for obligatory 5-cities inclusion even though it can get a bit loud
And though tiny, literally one of my absolute favorite bars in town: Nate’s on Marsh
Most of you understand what I mean when I say “where grown-ups can drink’ but for those who need convincing I am indeed a complete snob, here’s some criteria: You must be able to have a conversation. I want to be around successful, well-dressed people. I don’t want to be around hung-over people in the early afternoon or drunk people at night–certainly not anyone under 30. I don’t want to hear your fucking toddler cry or hear your fucking dog bark. I don’t want booze cheaper than anything in my bar at home. I don’t want cocktails with 75 ingredients that take 45 minutes to make by somebody with hepatitus-potential. I want it comfortable, warm, easy and friendly. THIS IS NOT TO SAY YOU WILL NOT SEE ME at ‘livelier’ watering holes! I love drinking at Black Sheep. And Giuseppe’s. And Highwater. And Hatch. And Legends in Morro Bay, Schooners in Cayucos. Whiskey & June in Atascadero. But shouting may be required and you’re gonna get jostled. Couple of them you might even stick to the bar.
After the existential crisis Morro Bay suffered last week over Flavor Factory suddenly shuttering “for the indefinite future” they re-opened 5 days later. I don’t know what sort of a marketing ploy was cooked up there, but smart people aren’t buyng it. Their loyals are though.
I had a ‘cracker-crust’ pizza at Griff’s Bistro in Templeton I thought was wonderful but according to most of my readers, “looked like Chucky-Cheese vomit”. I guess I’m going to have to go to Chucky Cheese and see if they’re right. I DID get a smattering of messages indicating it originates back east ln bars. Whatever the case, I loved it. Probably not going on The Margherita Pizza List, but interesting.
That pretty much covers everything.