I originally heard about the Park Restaurant through the Tribune. After favorable Chowhound recs, I bought the Clear Channel $25 for $50 gift certificate for the Park last week, made reservations for a Saturday night and my husband and I headed out for a date.
The Park is in the old railroad station. It's a cozy space (they do a lot with a little) and dimly lit, with a few art pieces. We opted for inside rather than the patio, as it was getting pretty chilly by the evening. They had good jazz playing -- Diana Krall, I think.
We had started out with cocktails and a cheese plate at Blue on Monterey Street. Both were pretty good, but neither person serving us had any idea which cheeses were which. Arg. Oh well -- the cheese was good, even if we had it before dinner instead of after.
At the Park, we took one look at the $10-15 markups on wines we generally pick up at the wineries themselves and decided to get glasses. I got DA Red, a great Domaine Alfred table wine from Edna Valley/Arroyo, and my husband got a Paso Zin -- the winery eludes me. Both were excellent. My husband said his was "everything a zinfandel should be."
We started out with what was described to us as one yellow cherry tomato, stuffed with...mm, something I can't remember now, but it also involved pesto and proscuitto. Tiny and delicious. I can't imagine stuffing a cherry tomato.
The bread course was courtesy of La Brea in LA and the wonderful 3rd St Bakery in Los Osos, which if you don't know about this guy you have to go. He's got the most amazing crusts, but he only bakes on Monday and Saturday and the bread goes fast. Try the Back Bay Sourdough or the pecan raisin bread, don't bother with the cookies. It's in Baywood Park and it's a local favorite after nearly a year.
I had the Ahi Tuna medium rare with goat cheese, heirloom tomatoes and garlicky spinach. It was perfectly done and the combination of flavors was wonderful. I think the chef got the heirlooms from the same farmer's market stall I did. :-)
My husband had a 16-oz. Tuscan T-bone, topped with arugula and covering heirlooms. The steak was pinker than he asked for, but he still enjoyed it.
We finished with a mocha pan creme and a glass of Saucelito Canyon Late Harvest Zinfandel. The Zin was smooth and sweet, and my husband made my night by sharing the mocha creme with me. He is not a dessert guy, but pairing the two things was such a good combination even he couldn't pass it up.
Altogether, it was the most expensive meal we kids have ever had together -- $91. We eat out a lot for newlyweds, but this tops them all for now. Luckily, I had almost nothing to complain about and the food was exceptional.
I would recommend The Park to anybody looking for a great dining experience in SLO, but if you want wine, go to Grappolo after and split a bottle in the downstairs bar. There's still a mark-up, of course, but it's not like the insane prices at the Park. They did have a good local selection, but as a local, I can't in good conscience pay those prices. :-)
Happy chowing everyone!! Have a good weekend!