Thanks in part to contributors to this and the California board I had a terrific time on my trip north this past weekend and want to share some experiences.
We got out of LA later than we'd hoped (no surprise there) so instead of the planned reprise lunch at Bistro Laurent in Paso Robles we fell on a seafood salad and a roast beef sandwich at Montecito Cafe. I'd only stopped at the bar in the evening once when I was staying there and hadn't appreciated how geriatric the crowd, but that's kind of a nice sensibility for lunch sometimes too, and it was a gorgeous day and we were able to get a seat at the small bar, which always adds points. We shared a bowl of corn chowder to start, having been assured that it wasn't gloppy (I had them pegged for a gloppy chowder place) and it wasn't, almost too thin, actually, and in need of salt. Don't recall any potatoes, which was fine by me. The roast beef was served on sliced ciabatta and I thought it could have been pinker but then the menu didn't say anything about it being rare. The fries were terrific, if you like them as I do, well-done and crispy. The seafood salad was fine: nice firm bay scallop ceviche, a few grilled shrimp and a mess of greens. I could have done without the large slices of grilled zucchini and assorted peppers, mostly green bell, which I don't care for, but they made a nice addition to the sandwich.
As the passenger I had a glass of Laetitia chardonnay which was fine, but I wouldn't have gotten a chardonnay had the other options been plausible. They had only 2 whites and 2 reds by the glass, and they were surprisingly pedestrian choices. It might have been a Buena Vista sauvignon blanc and I know it was a Blackstone merlot and something else uninteresting. I take it the Arnold Palmers were pretty good as he had three.
We were back on the road shortly after 2, hoping to make Carmel Valley before dark.