Kirk or Cathy will be with you tomorrow, but today ed (from Yuma) is describing another meal on his summer road trip.
On our first evening in Paso Robles, Tina and I were walking back from a great dinner, and suddenly we smelled the most delicious aromas wafting our direction on the warm nighttime air. Even though we were stuffed, both of us had to track down the origin of such savory scents. Heading up an alley, we discovered the location of Thomas Hill Organics: The next day at lunchtime, we walked around the central park in Paso, looking at menus and discovering nothing as appetizing as those aromas from the evening before. After relocating the restaurant, we were offered the choice of inside or outside seating. Although it was kind of hot (by the standards of Paso Robles, not Yuma) we opted to sit outside in a small partly covered courtyard that sits surrounded by buildings in the middle of the block: The first dish that arrived at our table was a watermelon gazpacho. And it was a thing of beauty: I can think of no soup that would have been as appealing as this summertime gem. The "broth" was red watermelon juice, with a few pools of extra virgin olive oil on top and minced mint and perhaps a squeeze of lime within. The chunks throughout the soup were sweet yellow watermelon. But as we began eating we discovered more: In addition to these halved dark grapes, we also encountered blackberries and raspberries:
The berries and grapes added touches of tartness to the sweet soup.
Soon after we finished the first course, our sandwiches arrived: Each sandwich was accompanied by a truly outstanding salad. Because the Central Coast is lettuce country, chefs have the ability to blend their own selection of various greens, rather than merely relying onlettuces already mixed. These salads contained primarily green and red oak leaf lettuce, two of the best and most flavorful salad greens available. The leaves were lightly dressed with a tomato vinaigrette, accompanied with cucumber slices, and topped with Kalamata olives, radish slices, and goat cheese. Salads don't get much better than this.
The sandwiches themselves were equally outstanding. One of them was a tuna sandwich: As you can see, this is no tuna sandwich like your mother served you. The seared albacore was topped with a slice of thick smoky bacon. Also, the slices of rich herb bread had been pressed like Paninis, so they were crunchy as well as flavorful.
The chicken sandwich may have been even better: On the same type of bread, the chicken breast slices were accompanied by bacon, melted mild cheese, and slices of green apple -- the taste of the whole was flavorful and complex. An outstanding sandwich.
This restaurant has been in business about six months, but it is clear they know what they are doing. If we hadn't already made plans for dinner that evening, we would have returned here because the lunch was outstanding. I'm surprised that I had not heard of this place before my visit. I'm certainly glad that Tina and I followed our noses.
Thomas Hill Organics Wine Bar and Bistro, 1305 Park St, Paso Robles CA, 805-226-5888. Website