Though I asked here for, and received, excellent reccomendations (thank you!) for restaurants in the Paso area, it turned out that the decision about where to dine fell into the hands of those who had visited the area before and wanted to seek out new places, so I really wasn't able to put my list to use. And, fair enough. So lunches were picnics in picturesque vineyards along the way, and our dinners were at one forgettable place in ___ Margarita (I get the name confused with a similar city name in Orange County) and the other was at McPhee's in sleepy little Templeton, which I reccomend.
Atmosphere: Charming old brick and wood early California architecture.
Food: I would call this sophisticated California country food, if asked to categorize it. By that I mean that the dishes were upscale in concept, but that portions are large and the side dishes paired with each meat item were unapologetically hearty--they're not feeding starlets here. Few appetizers were ordered so there's little say about that part of the menu but to mention that a tomato salad that I ordered was barely dressed (and I'm a minimalist when it comes to dressing, so if I complain....) and haphazardly assembled. Had to use both salt and pepper to give the dish flavor. But the main courses were excellent. Our group ordered a range of dishes including mushroom ravioli, ribs, steak and lamb racks. Every single person raved about their dish, and the cooked-to-order meats came out perfect for each. But our friend Kirk and I thought we were the smartest for ordering the ribs. They were beautifully cooked and seasoned, a full rack that from the smallish size of it seemed to have come from a fairly young porker, and coated in a superb slightly sweet, slightly hot honey-jalapeno flavored sauce. Moreover, the accompanying pile of almost shoestring-sized french fries was worth ordering all by itself. One doesn't often get a great, crispy-outside/creamy inside, frite in America, but these were GREAT, even when they were cooled off. I didn't intend to but taste them, but I ate every one.
Wine: our B & B hosts warned us that the corkage here was steep but they obviously misunderstood both the restaurant's policy and the nature of most restaurant's corkage policies, because McPhee's is to be nothing but lauded for what they do. Their corkage is $20, however, if you also buy a bottle off their menu then the corkage is waived entirely, and their bottle prices were astonishingly low--about $5 above retail, if that. The well-stocked list includes many of the best of the region, including some hard to get bottlings that we were glad to have an opportunity to try. We felt embarrassed to have brought any wines at all (even though our wines were out-of-area cellar treasures).
Service: very good, we had exactly what we needed whenever we needed it.
All in all a great find, and recommended.
Last edited by Jenise
on Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov