We had heard various stories about this storied family run institution. Although they had been in business since 1947, one thing we heard was that the food can be marginal. On the other hand we were told, you can't beat the location with its outdoor patio next to a water feature overlooking the orange groves. So perhaps we were put off right from the get go when we were informed that the outdoor patio was not available this evening although the indoor patio near the fireplace was. This being a warm spring day just before Easter, we were hoping for the outdoor patio.
Our server was perhaps the best part of the evening. She was very candid about the restaurant and its direction. She indicated they had just brought in a new chef and that they were going to be rolling out a new menu in about two weeks. Given that we were there on a Saturday night at sunset and the dining room was nearly empty, the implication was clear. Something had to be done about the food in order to counter the bad publicity.
This restaurant is billed as farm-to-fork with an emphasis on steak. They note that they have a ranch coastal Arroyo Grande where they harvest many of their vegetables and where they have a sister restaurant. But given that many of the reviews we had read panned the preparation of steak, we elected to go in a different direction.
Our server recommended the soup-of-the-day, wild mushroom, as a perfect started to be shared. Then, avoiding the red meat, my wife ordered the chef's special of the day, a Parmesan crusted sea bass, while I ordered the herb marinated salmon. I am hear to tell you that both preparations were excellent. My wife's sea bass was presented on a bed of roasted butternut squash risotto. Mine was on a bed of salt pork wild rice pilaf. The portions were large, the food was steaming hot, the tastes were delicious.
As it turned out the enclosed patio next to the fire was only slightly less romantic than the open air patio. The server was perfect in her recommendations for the night. We walked away pleasantly surprised with the experience and vowed to come back another time to see what is new on the menu.