Restaurants & Bars 6

Paso Robles--Buona Tavola

e.d. | Aug 14, 200305:50 PM

I had it all planned. I would get to Paso in the afternoon, taste some wine, stay at my favorite local cheap motel, and dine at Bistro Laurent, where I had had three good meals last year. Well, the best laid plans . . . After going to five wineries and THEN changing a flat tire beside the road, I stumbled into my motel and spent an hour wiping road grime off me as best I could. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered Laurent closed for remodeling. Like any true 'hound, I knew what I had to do, and so set off, dragging my tired rear around the nearby streets, amazed by the sheer number of likely restaurants-I counted one "international" restaurant, a hip bar bistro, another French restaurant, and two Italian places. But Buona Tavola on Spring St had the most interesting menu of all the ones I read, and the food lived up to the menu. In fact, it was so good that Chris and I ate there again on our way back to the desert. Both times I had a wonderful arugula salad with grilled scallops, shrimp, and peppers in a tasty light dressing. The first night, I followed that with homemade tortellini, a fine porcini mushroom sauce covering the thin pasta stuffed with spinach and other savory ingredients. On the second visit, Chris had a superb eggplant timballo that she described as the best eggplant parmesan she'd ever eaten, the eggplant married with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and two kinds of squash, all covered with a thin layer of flavorful cheese. And it was good. I had the sea bass that evening, and it was so well prepared that I thought it compared favorably with all the fresh seafood I had been eating in Monterey. The service was good both nights, and the small room is nicely decorated with van Gogh inspired paintings of rustic scenes. The wine list, as one would expect, featured a fairly wide selection of local wines. Buona Tavola is one more good reason to stop in Paso and spend an evening.

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