Today Kirk and Cathy can concentrate on their real work (or just kick back and relax) because Ed (from Yuma) has a post about a restaurant up in Paso Robles.
Tina and I had wonderful memories of a lunch at Thomas Hill Organics back in 2009, so we wanted to be sure to go there with Steve and Helen. Again we entered through the larger and fancier alley entrance to the restaurant:
This side of the restaurant has the larger indoor dining room, the Park Street side has a long skinny room with the bar and small tables, but whenever possible, we like to eat in the central covered courtyard in the middle of the restaurant:
What can I say? The cool smooth green avocado blended with the summer fresh squash seemed like the essence of a late spring harvest – rich, vegetal, tangy and complex. The chili oil added a touch of spicy hotness to balance the cool green creamy depth of the soup.
I love banh mis, but this seemed a little over the top for my tastes. While the pickled carrots, avocado, and chopped cilantro were good, the two thick slices of pork belly seemed excessive and were a bit chewy. Call me old school, but I also missed the light crunchiness of a good Vietnamese baguette:
Tina and I had always wondered about dinner at Thomas Hill, so we decided to have our last dinner in Paso at Thomas Hill Organics. The menu seemed wide-ranging, we liked that many produce and protein sources were identified on the menu, and it is hard to beat the ambience of that courtyard.
This was very nicely done. The excellent fresh ahi was lightly seared, and the ponzu sauce was perfectly flavored and did not overpower the other ingredients. Speaking of other ingredients, when Tina and I removed and divided the tuna, the rest of the appetizer was visible:
There was a large clump of wakame (seaweed salad), slices of avocado, wedges of pickled apricot, rounds of beautiful purple radish and cucumber, sunflower sprouts, and that ginger and scallion relish. For Tina and I, these flavors worked well together.
The next course was an unusual ceviche ($15) with local yellowtail and Oregon baby shrimp accompanied by chunks of Rocking Chair Farms nectarines and white peaches with purple radishes, cilantro, shaved shallots served on tostadas made from plantain and drizzled with coriander/honey coconut milk:
In most ways, this was an ambitious and very tasty ceviche presentation. It was not too tangy/sour to accompany our wine (more on that soon), and we loved the combination of stone fruit and seafood – though I would have liked even more of the seasonal fruits:
For us, the only things that didn’t work in the dish were the discs of plantain. They were more chewy than crunchy, and while they stood up to the ceviche toppings, the flavor/texture profile just didn't appeal and we actually left most of one round on the otherwise cleaned plate.
Because we were starting with two seafood courses, we began with glasses of Lone Madrone 2011 Points West White ($13), a very tasty Rhône style blend of 4 grapes, the rich and creamy roussane being the most prominent. We had tasted that very same wine the previous afternoon at the winery and had enjoyed it very much. It did not disappoint with dinner, and of course, the stemware was excellent and the pours very fair.
In that picture, you can see what they called a Fabergé farm egg, attractive and hard-boiled. The greens in the salad were wild arugula and pea leaves and tendrils. The orange carrot ribbons, dark pink macerated red onions, asiago cheese shavings, and abundant sweet pea pods added body, color, and variety to this lightly dressed and unusual salad, dense with the taste of spring:
So our last course just had to be one of their woodfired pizzas. Called the Verde Green pizza on the menu, it was topped with mozzarella cheese, black truffle salami, pistachio nuts, roasted zucchini, basil leaves and a light sprinkling of Romano cheese ($17):
It was excellent, the crust light and crunchy and the toppings tasty but not overpowering. We shared a glass of Enfold 2010 Jazzy Zinfandel ($13), which went well with the pizza.
We had a good time at Thomas Hill Organics, the service, ambience, and food were all first rate. Much of the food was local and organic. The wine list was well focused on local wineries. If we had any complaint, it was that we ordered too much food, so had to take about half of the pizza back to our room with us. Oh, hold on here, why am I complaining about a midnight snack?
Thomas Hill Organics, 1313 Park St., Paso Robles CA 93446, (805) 226-8555