It is amazing how pervasive food is; with every other TV commercial selling food, and every other TV episode takes place around a meal. In the big cities, you can’t go ten feet without smelling a restaurant. I am acutely aware of food and its omnipresence is astounding. I wrote about Thomas Hill Organics when they first opened three years ago. At that point they shared the patio with other businesses and had half the space they do now. They have grown nicely over time, but the quality of the food has surpassed even my expectations. There is a “WOW” factor to this cuisine as the chef’s bravely mix elements and flavors, yet still using only the freshest and most in season ingredients.
Most everything they serve comes from the Thomas Hill Organics farm that is family owned and run. It is dedicated to organically grown, unique, heirloom varieties of fruit, vegetables and nuts. The farm’s ten acres are home to more than 800 fruit and nut trees, a vineyard of Italian varietals, and raised beds filled with greens, lettuce, garlic, tomatoes and various seasonal vegetables and herbs.
Gary was famished and started with two desserts, as he has been dreaming about their lavender ice cream for years. This time the ice cream was sweet corn flavored and came with a Stone Fruit Cobbler. When a grown man describes something as “to die for”, you know it must be prodigious. His next venture into candy land was a Stoltey’s Bee Farm Honey Budino. This was a crème burlee like textured parfait with a butterscotch flavor and raw honey and pollen dusted over the top. Happy expletives jumped out of his mouth. He then inhaled the challah bread like a starving man. The bread is made exclusively by in-town bakers who are celebrated artisans of their trade and this challah bread made us want to get up and dance a jig.
I started with the pan seared Diver Scallop with Uni butter and fried sage leaves. The huge scallops are gently plucked from the bottom of the sea by divers and brought to us to enjoy with their cousin the sea urchin. The sage leaves were flash friend to lend a bite to every mouthful. It was a miraculous pairing from the deep blue sea. We moved on to the thin crust pizza baked in an open hearth on the patio. This delightful creation included curried crème fraiche, Dungeness crab meat, and fire roasted corn salsa and sunflower sprouts. The top was cold while the cracker bread-esque bottom held in the amazing amalgamation of flavors (and it was even better the next day as left overs).
Our main entrée was the celebrated pan roasted local sea bass finished with a hazelnut Italian salsa verde. The fish was cooked to perfection and the combination of the flavors on top, inspired. It also came with a warm salad of grilled apples, celery root, sliced Hass avocado and fava beans, with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette and Bengahli spiced crème fraiche. As full as I was, this was one of the best dishes I have tried. Eating is one of our indoor sports. You play three times a day and its worthwhile to make the game as pleasant as possible. Thomas Hill Organics has surpassed this achievement.
The menu changes weekly depending on the season and the availability of the ingredients. They work with local providers for proteins: local, organic, grass and well fed livestock for the beef, lamb and free range organic poultry. Their fish is fresh from local fisheries and providers. Joe and Debbie Thomas have created a little miracle in this courtyard on the corner of 13th and Park in Paso Robles. Open every day from 11:00 to 7:00 or check out the current menu at www.thomashillorganics.com.