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Restaurants & Bars 2

Cambria dining -- Black Cat Bistro

Mr Grub | Sep 3, 200303:38 PM

Having just returned from the weekend rejoicing in the delights of small-town America at Cambria’s Pinederosa Labor Day weekend extravaganza, we Grubs will share our dining experiences (some gathered during prior Cambria visits as well).

It’s the food, stupid, rankings:
1. Black Cat Bistro (full report below)
2. Main Street Grill
3. Sea Chest
4. Bistro Sole
5. Robin’s
6. The Hamlet
7. Brambles

BCB is the clear winner here. Tiny – 30 seats – & quite charming, BCB’s menu is Italian-Californian-French-ish. Well conceived & carried out.

Grubs opted for Gorgonzolafest. Tasty balsamic-marinated melon wrapped in prosciutto as an amuse (amusingly & incorrectly phonetically pronounced on the menu as a-mewz). Splendid perfectly firm garlic-sauteed shrimp on not-so-splendid crabcake. Terrific gorgonzola/artichoke stuffed ravioli in a fruity mango sauce. Gorgonzola encrusted-by-broiler ribeye steak. Mixed greens gorgonzola & walnut salad (1/27th the amount of gorgonzola that was on the steak. Better apportioning needed here. Maybe 1/17th of ½ of a walnut encountered. Hmm. Cambria walnut crisis?) Nice vinaigrette, tho. Flourless choc cake hit the dessert mark.

Service was cheerful & attentive altho, oddly, rushed – apps arrived before amuses were fully amused, plates attempted to be removed before both of us finished – twice!!, check plopped down w left hand while right hand was clearing dessert dish. No apparent reason for this – Cambria is a no-rush zone & no one was waiting for a table. Just plain odd.

Short wine list, carefully selected, featuring Central Coast selections. Very comforting room. Subdued even tho “live” & full. Loudest noise was the Grubster's arteries slamming shut.Moderately priced – tab came in at about $80 including a bottle of wine.

MSG has huge Santa Maria-style grills from which they produce very good barbecue w particular props for tri-tip (of course) & pulled pork. Big, noisy, order & pickup, chalet-cum-sports bar place, MSG is just the ticket for right tasty sandwich & beer. & if you have kids, well, it just doesn’t get any better.

Sea Chest provides solid seafood in a tight room w some excellent ocean views. Certainly it is the pick of the Moonstone Beach litter. The food, however, doesn’t seem to rise above Bourdain line. Pretty straightforward, safe versions of everything. No knock, fact.

Bistro Solé has expanded to include a rather charming garden area. Have not dinnered there, but brunch indicates that the chef does care about his work.

As BCB may be the fine-dining trough of choice for carnivores, Robin’s is prob best choice for herbivores. Clearly influenced by Alice Waters, the restaurant does first-rate work w fresh veggies & fruits. Pleasant surroundings. Lovely light lunch.

The Hamlet & Brambles are, well, underwhelming, tho the Hamlet does get a kudo for great view from a few of the upper room’s tables. Food in both places seems homogenized for folks who want security in their dining experience.

FWIW: the Cavalier Resort in San Simeon is a pretty great place to stay & their restaurant whomps up a righteous breakfast.

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