Restaurants & Bars 4

Cambria/Morro Bay report

PolarBear | Apr 3, 200509:50 PM

Spent a couple of days of R&R in Cayucos last week and headed up the coast to the Black Cat Bistro in Cambria for dinner Thursday. They have moved from the former small place with the rounded entry way into the adjoining building on the south (east?). There is a main dining area and two smaller adjacent rooms.

We shared two appetizers (10.00 ea), Coconut Curry Shrimp and the Crab & Corn Fritters. The shrimp were in a nice slightly tangy red curry sauce with roasted peanuts and cilantro. Criss crossing the top of the bowl were carrot chips, thin cripy lengthwise slices nicely browned that added just a touch of sweetness to offset the curry. The fritters were excellent with a minimal amount of filler, crunchy exterior and moist inside, topped with a slice of avocado and chopped cilantro. A drizzle of very flavorful spicy lime sauce encirled the patties. We thought both appetizers were very good.

BC's wine list is quite impressive, contains quite a few of the lesser known gems to be found in SLO county. For example they had all the available Linne Calodo blends except for the Cherry Red. A few others I recall were Garretson (The Craic), Las Tablas, L'Aventure, and Domain Alfred. I opted for a flight (10.00) of whites, half pours of any three choices from the BTG listings; Sokol Blosser Evolution #9 (an OR blend), Kahn Sauvignon Blanc, and Graham Greene Viogner. The latter provided a nice slightly sweet counter to the tanginess of the appetizers and the other two went perfectly with our entrees. Their normal pour BTW is 6 oz. Flights are also availabe for the dessert wines (sherry, port and a late harvest IIRC).

Just after ordering our apps I took a closer look at the beverages on the menu and requested a Soju Martini (7.00) made with Korean vodka (other options were a Cosmo, Gimlet or their own Syrah infused Soju). Also went with the menu rec and ordered it slightly dirty with gorgonzola stuffed olives. The martini was OK but I thought the olives a little too salty and when I make these at home I use a better gorgonzola and include 2-3 slivers of toasted almonds in each olive. Still, it was a good effort and nice departure from the ordinary. Beer selection is decent (4.00) Beck's, Corona, Maudite Ale (Canada), Sam Adams Lager, Scrimshaw Pilsner (Ft. Bragg CA), Sierra Nevada PA, and St. Pauli Girl N.A.

Lady PB and I shared dishes as usual, she starting with the Seared Ahi (19.00) a generous steak seared around the edges served on a round thick patty of butter braised sticky rice with a ginger wasabi sauce and Vietnamese slaw and roasted peanuts. Everything worked so well together and the perfectly cooked vegetables were really outstanding. I chose the Jumbo Sea Scallops (20.00/4) perfectly seared on a bed of corn pudding, drizzled with a cilantro coriander cream and accompanied by shiitake mushrooms and a tomatillo salsa. Another great marriage of flavors, the corn pudding looked similar to a square of polenta that had been browned in butter but had a slightly sweet taste and smoother texture. One of the nicest scallop dishes I've had in a long time.

Tried a couple of desserts, wife had a rich chocolate volcano cake (not the actual name) type thing with a gooey center topped with tiramisu ice cream. Sheer decadence, I only had one small bite. I went with the key lime pie (actually more of a torte) topped with whipped cream, nicely tangy and refreshing.

A few other menu items that looked interesting were the Braised Beef Quesadilla app (10.00) w/asiago cheese, mushrooms and cilantro) and a couple of entrees, Lavender & Fennel encrusted duck Breast (22.00) braised fig and spinach couscous, honey lavender essence, and the Braised Boneless Beef Shortribs (19.00) with creamy goat cheese polenta, sauteed greens, crispy shallots, and a braise reduction. We also overheard the folks at the next table raving about the Shrimp Bisque (8.00).

We're definitely looking forward to returning, I believe the menu changes frequently. Would love to hear other hounds experiences. Total pre-tax and tip for two apps, 2 entrees, 2 desserts, 1 martini and the flight of wines was @ $84.

Also noted as we cruised through the East Village that Bistro Soleil is no more, one partner left to pursue carpentry the other is at Indigo Moon next door. The space now houses Chenoa. Their outside menu board states their dedication to local and organic produce, the menu seems to have a pretty diverse style and interesting selections. They were doing a pretty good business around 8 PM on Thursday. Have no idea how long they've been open.

On the way home we stopped at Chapala Market in Morro Bay and tried a couple of their soups, The Caldo 7 Mares and Sopa Camaron. Both had rich flavorful broth, the 7 Mares seemed a little spicier. The fish in it was fresh and perfectly cooked. The shrimp soup turned out to be more of a seafood mix, bay scallops, lots of clams, few shrimp, but very good nevertheless. We also shared a Torta Cubana, mixture of beef and pork served on a large round flat loaf of bread, not the sandwich type rolls we're used to seeing. This was one great sandwich, plan on working my way through their other selections whenever I get the chance. Total for lunch, just under $20 (we ended up bringing almost a whole bowl of soup home).

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