“Nothing better for breakfast than a chocolate walnutbrownie.” remarked my sister-in-law Ann the last day for our three-daywhirlwind tour of Paso Robles last week. And said brownie? Packed upfor our group by none other than Mike Kobayashi, and prepared, no doubt, underthe watchful eye of his brother, Chris, two of the four owners of Artisan Paso Robles.
I’d met Chris, and had a sampling of his cuisine, when hetraveled to Wally’s Wine in Westwood for a Central Coast wine event that benefitedthe Bonaccorsi fund.
After that I started highlighting his popular Monday Night Suppersand…planning a trip to Paso myself to try a full dinner.
It proved to be one of the best meals any of us have everhad. Of the extensive menu ourserver, Stacy, started us off with the chef’s amuse of the day: Braised LambCheeks with lemon-mint Pistou and crispy sweet bread. What a treat on the palate! Something I have to admit I’d never had before, but like discovering a new wine, it was most welcoming.
From there my party ordered the black lentil bean soup withSpanish chorizo, “organic chicken, collard greens, hen of the woods, aligotpotatoes”, “sassafras braised kobe pot roast, pan fried cheese grits, broccoli,cauliflower”, “hearst ranch flatiron steak, shallots, French fries, cabernetbutter”, and the swordfish special. (Forgive me, not sure how it was preparedor what it was paired with because my friend had cleaned his plate far toofast!)
Maybe it was because we were staying at La BellaSera Hotel and notdriving home after the meal, but none of us took home any dinnerleftovers. We readily sampled eachother’s plates, but there was no clear “winner” here – everything wasoutstanding.
|Kobe Pot Roast, grits in the background.|
For myself, I will say, that after sampling everyone’sdishes all were melt-in-your-mouth delish. From the main courses to the sides (Loved the pan friedcheese grits and house made ketchup!) we all followed suit of our friend – andcleaned our plates well enough to make any mother proud!
We paired everything with our favorite wine of the day: J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon. (Though I, for one, would have liked to try some of the flights on the wine menu too, butalas, tasting all day wouldn’t allow for much more if I wanted to remainupright.)
For dessert, can you sayOHMIGOD? You’d think they wouldn’thave time left in the day to make ice cream too! We were gluttonous over: “red velvet coconut cake,bananas, spiced rum”, a trio of “crème brûlée, vanilla, orange blossom,pistachio”, warm almond cookies, and for ice cream: date, ginger and peanutbutter.
Guests were very comfortable, we noted, while dining at oneof the decidedly best places in town. My husband Eddie spied an elderly couple playing cards while they ate,while the young couple seated next to me engaged Stacy in a wineconversation. They had orderedglass after glass with their meal, and treated the event as if it were a winetasting at a winery, and no doubt, Stacy had been well trained to manage allrequests, from wine choices to dining choices, for guests of Artisan.
During dessert, Mike Kobayashi somehow found the time tocome over to our table. We took aphoto and chatted. We complementedStacy’s service, to which Mike said, “Ninety percent of our staff, includingStacy, has been here from the start.”
Kind of made me regret not being in Paso from the start.