A restaurant is so much more than its cuisine. The service and atmosphere are as important as the items coming out of the kitchen. That is why I was thrilled when Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar opened the second location in the Village of Arroyo Grande. It is a sophisticated, yet refreshingly relaxed atmosphere of glossy woods, exquisite decor, and captivating photography of the stars of yesteryear, the ones that made us swoon. White table clothes adorn every table and the handcrafted chairs beg for you to sit back and enjoy refinement.
I love that the chef’s look right out into the dining room and the window seats on the front enclosure. We started with a bottle of Victor Hugo Petite Sirah, one of the best wines coming out of the Paso Area. Chef de Cuisine, Bo Fargo (who I am a long time fan of his work in the kitchen) sent out some succulent Fried Brussels Sprouts. Usually this is my most avoided vegetable, but the waiter assured us that this was the best dish on the menu. They came is a shallow bowl with a drizzle of smoked goat cheese, but were swimming in a apple cider glaze that cut the bitterness of the orbs and brought out an amazing sweet flavor. I had a second and third helping, surprising myself.
Gary started with the Signature Carrot Cake and a huge slice arrived with three layers with cream cheese frosting and toasted pistachios. Not recognizing all the flavors, our waiter told us there were quinoa and a parsley green sauce. Delectable and good for you, we were on to something. We all munched on the cheese plate with a creamy brie, Spanish manchego and Pt. Reyes Blue with a plethora of dried fruits, nuts and crispy crackers. The Braised Pork Belly with its green apple slaw, roasted apple, and maple demi glaze reduction was a table favorite as the pork belly was thick and crispy. The apple did what it does best with pork in both forms.
On to the main dishes that were recommended highly by the waiter and did not disappoint. Beef Stroganoff Braised Short Ribs consisted of fall off the bone meat in a creamy mushroom sauce and papardelle pasta. It was comfort food and yet very stylish. I thoroughly enjoyed the Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut with sautéed snow peas, green onion rice, and a papaya-coconut beurre blanc sauce. We all tried it, the table grew quite, and I think I moaned. This dish was so good it robbed that table of conversation.
For those of us that want our sweets after the meal, the Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake with vanilla ice cream was a dreamy delight. I talked with Executive Chef Justin Picard, he told me he started as a cook at Robert’s Paso Robles. He has been in the restaurant business since he was 8 years old, a son of a chef. His family owned and operated a New England fine dining restaurant. He told me he loves surprising the diners of South County as he believes that cooking isn’t just a job, its an art form.
I returned the next day with my dear friend Suellen Iness. She is a traditional eater, I was sure that she would love Robert’s twist on fine dining. We started with Crispy Shrimp Spring Rolls that were amazing. Spicy, crunchy and wrapped in a butter lettuce cup with fresh herbs, cashews, and piquant dipping sauce, we inhaled them. Bo brought us some specials to try a taste of and we were impressed. Smoke trout on butter lettuce with shredded green pea pods and caramelized onions, sitting on a bed of baby greens. I adored the Smoked scallops, acquired from a couple of ultimate chefs who smoked the scallops to perfection. They were served with a salad of lemon cucumber, baby tomato, butter pickles with a srirachadrizzle.
Running low of tummy room, we shared the Crispy Mahi-Mahi Tacos. I loved that tempura battered fish came served on grilled corn tortillas, with cabbage, cotija cheese, spicy salsa and a chipotle garlic-lime sauce. This was a perfect lunch; we were both excited to return.
Robert’s Restaurant and Wine bar offers a fresh approach to classic American cuisine by providing you with beautifully prepared foods. Gather with your friends and family in a dining room that makes you feel both uptown and right at home. Robert’s is located at 303 East Branch Street in Arroyo Grande; you can call them at (805) 574-1720. They are open daily from 11:00am to 2:00pm and from 5:00pm to 10:00pm for dinner.