There’s a new kid on the Block in Arroyo Grande. Ember restaurant, located at 1200 E. Grand has been open about a month now. The Chef, Brian Collins, was previously the head chef at Lido in the Dolphin Bay resort. Prior to and after that he has worked at Full of Life Flat Breads in Los Alamos. The restaurant was built out for Brian with the help of his Dad, a local Contractor. The name comes from the fact that he is cooking with fire. We’re talking wood fired pizza oven, rotisserie, grill and oven. The restaurant has an open view to all of the cooking stations.
Brian is huge advocate of fresh and local. He sources a lot of ingredients daily at the local farmers markets. The menu is currently changing monthly. It is divided into separate parts. Soup and salad, Share, Oven, Coals, and Sweet. The salads are imaginative and good sized portions. Two could easily split one. The soup changes daily. Last night’s option was smoked tomato. We skipped this section last night and went to Share instead. Share is what one would consider appetizers or tapas. Last night we had green garlic ravioli. This was a wonderful dish that came with a wild mushroom sauce. We were also interested in the wood fired squid, but they were already sold out (at 7:00 PM). We tried the ricotta gnocchi instead. Very light gnocchi served with spinach and a brown butter sauce.
Oven is pizzas. They have the traditional like margherita on the menu. This was made with a very good, freshly made tasting burata cheese. The other one we tried was wild mushroom with nettles, egg and smoked leeks. A very good combination that I’d order again. The only caveat being that is an eat it now combination. The topping we’re starting to get the crust a bit soggy after sitting 10- 15 minutes.
Coals are items either off the grill or out of the oven. The two we tried last night were a wood fired duck lasagna and swordfish. The lasagna included chard, mushrooms, truffled béchamel, delacota squash and red wine braised duck. Another standout dish I’d order again. The swordfish was served Sicilian style on fava and garbanzo beans. The only issue I had with this dish, is it was cooked more than I like. I usually like my swordfish medium rare. I didn’t specify, so I can’t complain.
We skipped the Sweet section so I can’t really comment on it. The Restaurant is big hit. They don’t take reservations and the wait can be an hour or more if you come at a prime time. We left around 8:30 and they still had quite a few parties waiting to be seated. They also look to be attracting the right people. I saw a lot of people I know that really love food there last night.