I love dining here in California’s Central Coast, the chefs are phenomenal, the produce fresh and each restaurant has its own unique something to offer to the people. One of my favorite chefs, Pandee Pearson has recently moved to one of the most romantic spots on the earth, Avila Gardens in Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. I have followed Pandee to many fine dining establishments, but this one suits her best. She has a huge garden that she tends out in the grounds, so the lettuce and vegetables are picked fresh daily. She has planted 100 heirloom tomato plants, so I am looking forward to that fruit coming in season and see what surprises this innovated chef has in store for us.
Pandee’s multicultural health conscience cuisine revolves around seasonal high quality fresh ingredients taking great care in preparation and sound cooking methods. She feels that the ingredients should be the “stars” and the chef’s job is to create interesting combinations that are complimentary and reflect balance.
We started with our traditional method, Gary had a chocolate banana crème pie that was stuffed with fresh bananas and had a hint of chocolate with a graham cracker crust. He inhaled it. I had the Pan Seared Scallops that are served in two beautify fan shaped shells and cook to heavenly perfection with a surprising combination of caramelized shallots, shaved almonds, capers and a sweet brown butter sauce. The combination is surprising and inspired. The hot fresh baked bread emerged from the kitchen and I slathered it in butter and ate more than I should have.
This dining room is usually filled with a sea of international customers and it is fun to see how those from other countries revel in our local food and chef. A sweet French couple and their children dined next to us and we struck up a conversation. They had traveled from South America and were working there way up the sand states tasting wine. Being French, they bestowed the best overall wine region to ours. They also commented that this chef must be beautiful because her food was so stunning, I assured them that she was.
We brought our own wine for this special event, as the Gardens have no corkage fee for local wines. A special Dark Star Petite Syrah complemented our meal suitably. Their wine list is impressive, so if your not sitting on a celebratory bottle, trust in their impeccable taste to pair your meal with wine.
Our main courses impressed us thoroughly. Gary had the Pecking Duck done in the French style cut and pan seared. It sat over a delicious mixed grain pilaf with cherries, pistachios, golden raisins and mint. The savory flavor of the duck was brought out in this fragrant dressing. The accompanying brocolini were cooked to flawlessness and the port wine sauce gastrique floated the food dreamily. I had the grilled rib eye steak that along with being an enormous cut of meat, cut thru the knife like butter. I substituted the homemade steak fries for a garlic mash potatoes, because if there is mashers on the menu with a chef this good, I must try them. The Bordelaise sauce that it all swam in was aromatic.
Gary snuck out to the patio to smoke a Romeo and Juliet smuggled from a foreign land while I enjoyed the chocolate mousse. This version was more like a chocolate patê. Cut in two slices and laid across hazelnut liquor with a sprinkling of pistachios on top, this was like eating a divine puff. Gary returned to grab the last bite of my chocolate and we walked the garden path happy, full and in love.
The Gardens of Avila are open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Monday – Thursday: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm and 4:00 – 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 8:00 am – 9:30 pm and Sunday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm. They are located at 1215 Avila Beach Drive in Avila or call for reservations at (805) 595-7365.