Thank you, chowhounds for your recommendations in Pismo/Avila Beach.
For anyone hosting a special dinner, perhaps a graduation from Cal Poly, the private side room of the Gardens of Avila restaurant at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort works very well. The large table seats 8 comfortably and everyone was happy with their dinner and the tranquil atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed a special appetizer of crab napoleon accented with delicate Asian seasonings and 4 guests loved their chicken with orzo and marascapone roasted with wild mushrooms and brocoli rabe.The cioppiano was a hit and an adventurous eater ordered the venison in an almost "mole"-type sauce. For dessert, the slices of moist German Chocolate cake and Meyer-lemon tart with huckleberry sauce disappeared.
A particularly nice feature is that the restaurant doesn't charge corkage on local wine and they consider "local" all the way to Santa Barbara. (Corkage on non-local wines is only $15.) The only surprise was an automatic 20% tip for our party - that hadn't been mentioned on the phone and I was expecting only 18% but the youthful servers and hostess were pleasant and professional and the lack of corkage balanced the bill out.
I had read on Chowhound that the previous chef of Gardens of Avila has been recruited by the new Dolphin Bay resort opening in nearby Shell Beach? The restaurant at Dolphin Bay won't be open until March 1st but I would appreciate hearing from anyone who gives it a try. Also, I hear mixed reviews of "Giuseppe's" in Shell Beach. What do chowhounds think? Thanks!