9/29/08

Consumer Reports: Local Dining

Our friend, D, blew in from Australia for nearly two weeks to stay with us and do some work with John. He was the perfect guest. He did the dishes, entertained the baby, and when propositioned with a choice for dinner or entertainment his usual response was, "I'm easy."
Knowing that he lives a fast paced single life in Melbourne, we did our best to gather our children and jump into the fast lane for a few days to keep the action up to pace. Our first weekend with D, we hired a sitter and road bikes to a local favorite for dinner. We took him to the beach. During the week we alternated dinners out with homecooked meals, hit SLO Farmer's Market, the Margarita Festival, and did a night out at the bars in SLO with every 21 year old in the county (talk about feeling OLD).
Subsequently, I learned a great deal about our local restaurants along the way...
SCHOONERS in Cayucos: If you can't sit on the upstairs ocean view patio, Do NOT sit downstairs. Despite the cozy booths that provide the perfect coral for your children, the risk is too great. We witnessed (hopefully) one rat that traveled around the ceiling along criss-crossed beams above our table. He was readily available for viewing when we pointed him out to the waiter. And he looked like he was busy gathering for a large family hidden somewhere in the ceiling. The waiter looked the rat in the eye and then guffawed. He said something about "these old buildings"....we later guffawed at our $150 bill while the rat looked on. Not the audience we expected.
SHAWN's ON MAIN in Morro Bay: GREAT food, good ambiance (if the owner/chef's new baby isn't in a mood-he's typically in the building with a sitter or on the waitress/owner's hip while she pours your wine). Service is very good, just be sure you do not bring kids because dinner is multiple courses, slow and relaxing. Not the scene for a 4 year old. If you happen to ride your bike there, be sure to lock it. There's a bike rack directly outside the restaurant window. We lost our lock so we mangled the three beach cruisers together in hopes of slowing down a brazen thief. We gazed out the front window at the end of our meal and watched a drunken fisherman stumble by, grab my bike with the baby seat on back and begin pushing it away. Shawn, owner/chef, who is built like a Mac Truck with the face of a bulldog blew through the front door and gave the thief a quick description of where the bike may be shoved if he continued walking away. Like something out of a cartoon, the sailor turned around, dragged my bike back to the rack and sweetly apologized as he bumbled something about thinking it was his. We thanked Shawn and rode home. Shawn called the cops.
VIENNE VIE in SLO (next to F. McClintock's on Higuera): I cannot say enough terrible things about this restaurant's food. It is worse than bad. We ordered 6 appetizers to share. The descriptors on the menu were grossly misleading. Some italian words like Precente Bruschetta or Carnelo Mostretta. My favorite was the Capreso Bread with fresh mozzarella, herbs and garlic butter which arrived as a half frozen bread loaf covered in rubbery string cheese. The Prawns a la Vienne were so rubbery, my starving shrimp loving toddler tried one, chewed it for 20 minutes and then refused to eat another. They were obviously frozen cooked shrimp, that the teenage chef then microwaved in a plate of butter in hopes of improving its flavor. Gross. The bruschetta arrived on a thin layer of blackened carcinogens with sliced tomatoes doused in dried herbs. What? You get the point. Bad. On the upside, there's a full bar and the bloody mary's are tolerable. The outdoor seating on the street and out back under a raised canvas ceiling provide pleasant ambiance. And the servers are friendly.
TACOS de MEXICO in Morro Bay: A perfect hangover fix. Plenty of chips and salsa with every meal. Lots of cheese and lard, yummy delish. And no meal priced over $6.
TACO TEMPLE in MB: Perfect in every way. Recommend the house fish tacos and the awesome carrot cake. Great place for kids-fast service, crayons and coloring sheets, $2.50 kid meals.
After having two men around the house, I've decided polygamy may be the way to go. Three adults and two children makes family life run much more smoothly. Especially when eating out.

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