S. Irene Virbila takes a summer vacation to the new wine country darling Paso Robles and found decent bistro food at Artisan. Businesses are popping up all over downtown Paso, which is poised to be the next big place for wine. Not so shocking she's there; everyone we know who's been, including us, loves it. Miss Irene finds one of the newer restaurants to check out, and while she's grateful there was no rabbit on the menu---after eyeing cute little bunnies at the fairgrounds---she did find some solid fare like flat-iron steak, good fries, fried calamari, and even the salads. But she chalks her least favorite dishes up to a trend:
In general, starters are stronger, because the kitchen tends to muddle up the main courses with too many ingredients and too much sauce, which, I have to say, has practically become the definition of California cuisine. All the recipes need is a little editing -- snipping out that extra ingredient or two, bringing flavors into focus -- for the menu to really shine.This isn't so much the new "California cuisine," but rather the mark of a young chef---Chris Kobayashi is all of 26, but he's on the right track. The contemporary room, easy-drinking beer and wine list, solid fare, and friendly small-town vibe, Artisan works for Paso. Miss Irene gives it two stars. Today the "S." stands for "swirl, sip, and sip again." [LAT]
ELSEWHERE: Nothing really new at the new Zu Robata; why Z's Sushi is a go-to spot; supping by the sand at Coast at Shutters on the Beach; Café Brasil is very clean and very, um, Brazilian; another quick look at Tanzore.