I spent a superb two day “Staycation” in Cambria at the 9 Iron Inn (www.9ironinn.com), were innkeeper Michelle guided me to new culinary finds in this city of pines and seaside beaches. I would encourage everyone to do the same as this brief time away energized my soul and cemented my passion at finding new brasseries.
Michelle came to dine with us at the recommended Madeline’s Restaurant on the main strip of Cambria. The quaintness of this bistro was instantly apparent with the herb and vegetable garden growing in the flower boxes out front. Tuffs of basil, chive, rosemary, parsley, cilantro and a variety of vegetables sprouted as a welcome greenery of smell and visual delight. I knew that the chef would be a connoisseur when his herb garden is also a decoration. Owner David greeted us, and we settled in to taste some of his fantastic local boutique wines. First I noticed a bottle of Brian Benson, one of my favorite young wine makers and a rare find in a wine shop. The artwork adoring the walls, by Nadezhda (“Nadja”) Tselikova gave a sense of sensuality that was a common thread through all the wines and food.
Madeline’s Restaurant specializes in intimate American/French influenced dinner. David told us the menu is based upon locally sourced and seasonably available products. We all know that the best organic food is what is grown closest to you. Gary started with the Lime and Raspberry Pie, which delighted our host and companions. The sweet raspberries even out this local tart lime custard. It is filled on to a graham cracker crust and garnished with fresh limes and raspberries.
We started with the 2014 Pinot Grigio, made by Andrew Adam of Edna Valley, a rare find that startled my taste buds with its honey notes. We settled in and ordered the Chef Tasting, which is always the best way to order when a restaurant offers this choice. It would be five courses and we would share to make sure we tasted it all. The first dish was the Crab And Lobster Cakes that was served over wilted leeks with lemon thyme aioli. The richness of the crab claw and lobster meat was complemented with the complex sauce. Next we tried the Diver Scallops, with large hand picked scallops lightly seared and served over a mushroom duxelle with a beurre blanc sauce. This was shaping up to be a meal of epic proportions.
We moved on to a “Wild” bottle from Locatelli in Paso Robles. It was a Meritage Blend that alone could have been the rest of my meal. Our first entrée was fresh Halibut with a beurre blanc sauce, roasted summer squash, zucchini, and carrots. The fish was cooked flawlessly and complemented the sauce and rice. But those carrots caught my attention. I usually only like my carrots raw, but these were sweet and crispy. I asked David about them and he told us they were simmered in a sauce all night adding more carrots, reducing the sugars and bringing out an outstanding flavor. Rarely have I been so taken with a root vegetable. Next we had the Stuffed Breast Of Chicken with candied walnuts, Brie, and spinach rolled into the breast permeating the meat with flavor and a wonderful texture. It is sitting on a sage brown butter sauce and served with delectable scalloped potatoes and those amazing vegetables. Another entrée that was fought for was the Long Island Duck Breast. It was pan seared, topped with dried cherry and brandy reduction, served with scalloped potatoes and vegetables. Duck done right is glorious and this was. The vegetarian selection surprised us all at being chock full of flavor. It was called a Polenta Madeline. The polenta was topped with seasonal vegetables, a pumpkin seed pesto and roasted tomato sauce.
One to desserts, a mountainous Chocolate Truffle Mousse Cake arrived and its layers of dark chocolate truffle, milk chocolate mousse cooked over a buttery walnut crust was heavenly. The rest had the Crème Brulee with sliced strawberries. As we were leaving we purchased a couple of bottles of wine to enjoy in our room. Full and very happy we strolled down the quaint Cambria village and them toasted a fantastic meal on the seaside bench.
Madeline’s Restaurant is located at 788 Main Street in Cambria. They are open everyday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm, you can call them at (805) 927-4175.