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A trip to Cambria and environs (report)

Cecelia | Aug 22, 200502:27 PM

Just returned from a lovely couple of days in the Cambria area. With a sister and her teenage daugter and my light of my life and joy of my declining years (daugther) and THREE dogs, it was an effort to get out to eat, but we met the challenge:

Taco Temple: on outskirts of Morro Bay next to Spencer's Market. They describe themselves as "California Fusion." We've eaten there twice before. The food is always very fresh and innovative. I ordered from the specials for the day: chorizo and potato taquitos served with warm tomatillo salsa, a petite salad, sour cream and guac. The taquitos were nicely fried (not greasy) and the chorizo was spicy and flavorful. The warm tomatillo salsa was chucky and tasty. I had a glass of Domaine Alfred Syray which complimented the spiciness of the chorizo.

My sister ordered off the regular menu: chile verde tacos and homemade pink lemonade. Huge taco and the chile verde was laced with a tomatillo salsa. Unless you in training for a marathon, these tacos are gargantuon and sufficieint to feed a horde.

The salads -- both with my dish and my sister's -- had slightly brown lettuce which was off putting. Also, the tortillas were not house made; they're store bought from Diana's. Good, but not quite the right foundation for a "Taco" temple.

The waitresses are always preoccupied with the locals, so we never received a refill on the lemonade, didn't receive the salsas (usually come with meal) until asked for, and didn't get our check until requested (and the place was, surprisingly, not busy.)

TT's renovating -- adding on a huge new space for dining. Will be interesting to see if the quality holds up with so many new patrons.

Our daughters couldn't stomach Taco Temple so we headed over to Morro Bay and the Foster's Freeze there. I have to tell you this little hole in the wall makes the best (according to the kids) grilled cheese on white bread sandwiches -- positively oozing with American Cheese and nicely grilled. They always order the same thing, the grilled cheese sandwiches and the Chocolate Malted Milkshakes. The milkshakes are thick and that scoop of malt just makes all the difference. The Foster Freeze in Morro Bay has a large fish tank which keeps you distracted -- important because the service is unrelentingly and unapologetically slow.

That evening, my sister and I stopped in at the Cambria Wine Shop -- hosted on alternative days by either Dennis, Kelly or Joni. This is a must see and taste when staying in or passing through Cambria. These three are wonderful hosts willing to open up almost any bottle to give you a taste of the local wines. And, they know their stuff. I am not a wine connisouer, but I know what I like and I like the wines that they have collected there. Joni hosted our tasting this time -- sparkling wines (white and blush), syrahs, zins, cabernets, and a port. Delightful wine, in a delightful environment and hosted by a delightful lady.

My sister needs a fix of clam chowder when we're on the coast. She usually picks up a container to go in Cayucos after we've finished beaching it (There's a takeout window right off the city beach whose name I can't remember, but Monica swears by). This time we picked up a small container at the Main Street Grill in Cambria. This place is cavernous. Monica liked the chowder -- thick and with lots of clams -- but I think that BBQ is the order of the day there. They've got these monster fire pits that they get going at the crack of dawn.

I know this because I head over to the Cappochino place on Main (next door to the Main Street Grill) early in the morning. This place has great people, good coffee and wonderful bagels. And, they've got computers and you can hook up to the internet if you need a fix.

We ate dinner (my niece turned 13) at Madeline's in Cambria on Main. We brought a bottle of the Apothecary -- a nice red wine we picked up at the Wine Shop. This small restaurant (seats about 30-35 and painted with warm colors) serves some of the best food in Cambria. The fish is off the boat and, in fact, the specials depend on what was caught that day.

The bread was freshly baked and served with a chive butter. Yummy.

We ordered the special appetizer -- baked brie served with carmelized onion and a warm bourbon sauce. Heaven.

We all ordered the Caesar salad which, if you like them, came with an anchovie on top of the salad. The lettuce was not chilled enough and was also slightly wilted. A no, no. But the dressing was tasty.

Monica and I split the filet mignon with mashed potatoes and veggies. Slightly underdone (we ordered medium) but the meat itself was tender and the wine reduction sauce spectacular. My adventuresome daughter ordered the pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. She was enchanted with this dish. My husband ordered the gnocchi of the day -- served with sausage and sage. I liked it, but he prefers the tradtional red or alfredo sauce.

Because it was Marianna's BD, we were offered a complimentary dessert -- Bananas Foster, flambeed at table. A crowd pleaser.

The waitress/server was attentive throughout the evening, and the decor and seating arrangements promotes relazation and fun. We had a good time.

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