We're all for finding new restaurants in Central Coast wine country, but even S. Irene Virbila surprises us with this random pick. She heads way north---Santa Margarita, a few miles north of San Luis Obispo---to try The Range, a good country restaurant with cowboy sensibilities. Nothing revolutionary, just good:
On a weeknight, the place is half full, yet the chef and owner, Jeff Jackson, isn't cutting back. The waitress recites the four specials that night with real appreciation in her voice. She knows they're good. But I've already spotted crawfish cakes on the menu. Steak with red-eye gravy? For sure. A homey tomato bisque, wild arugula salad and seafood risotto. Sounds good. It all sounds good.Everything's just so darn good, it's about the only adjective she can find (at least 10 times) to describe many things, from the French onion soup to the beet salad to the wine list. The tucked-away, mostly locals-only restaurant is so good it gets two stars. Today the "S." stands for "strange." [LAT]
ELSEWHERE: A night at the new La Fonda; steaks and more at STK; healthy Japanese at tucked away Aun Deli Café in Pasadena; Mandarin Noodle Deli is kind of like Mandarin Deli; not so wowed with Big Sugar Bakeshop; a first look at Akasha and Luckyfish.