Gracious Dining in Paso Robles
During the last decade or so, Paso Robles has undergone a major transformation. It started with the introduction of wineries to the area and is now manifesting itself in a variety of great restaurants.
I recently photographed Thomas Hill Organics Market Bistro and Wine Bar for Westways Magazine. Long title—great restaurant. All ingredients are locally sourced with much of the organic produce coming from the family’s own farm.
The restaurant backs up to its own hidden courtyard where visitors sip local wines and enjoy the eclectic variety of dishes prepared by French chef Julie Simon. The courtyard is designed to accommodate those warm Paso Robles afternoons with an elegant, tranquil fountain at one end and tables shaded by large market umbrellas. The typically cool evenings of the Central Coast are warmed with a large oak-burning fireplace at the opposite end of the courtyard. A pizza oven is actually built in to the back of the fireplace. The interior of the restaurant is built around the unique character of the old building in which it is located. Exposed brick walls are graced with local art.
After photographing several dishes outside in the courtyard, Debbie Thomas graciously asked if I would like to have lunch there. If only all decisions were that easy! I opted for their famous Vietnamese BBQ Pork Belly sandwich and was not disappointed. As a matter of fact, I have to say it was the best BBQ pork sandwich I had ever eaten. Inhaled is probably more accurate than eaten. The blend of flavors and seasonings was pretty much indescribable.
A leisurely drive home to Santa Barbara through the rolling hills of the Central Coast capped off one of those perfect days for which I am almost embarrassed to charge my clients. I did say almost, didn’t I?