- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
My favorite brunch spots around the county prepare a gourmet meal that would satisfy the pickiest chef or a persnickety critic. It’s usually a prix fixe meal, with two or three choices in each of three courses, and they never disappoint me. I love the classic dishes by chef Evan Treadwell at Lido in Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach: delicious eggs Benedict with perfectly-poached eggs, grilled ham and brioche dressed with hand-whisked hollandaise and a side of rustic fried potatoes; the wonderful Dungeness crab and asparagus omelet also with those potatoes; and delicate brioche French toast with caramelized bananas and genuine Vermont maple syrup. If your party has mixed tastes, there are plenty of non-breakfast options, including the Lido chipotle burger and the chef’s Rueben on rye melt. Pastry chef Benji Puga provides decadent desserts: crème brulee, blueberry ricotta bread pudding and chocolate hazelnut torte.
Chef Chris Kobayashi of Artisan in Paso Robles offers an addictive appetizer of fluffy, fresh beignets with powdered sugar and jam, N’awlins style. I also love the crispy Dungeness crab cake Benedict over puff pastry with housemade hollandaise, served with fresh seasonal fruit. Another favorite is the fat omelet stuffed with smoky chunks of bacon, a good, nutty gruyere cheese, Bloomsdale spinach and green onion hash. I love his take on chilaquiles: pork short ribs with Spanish chorizo, ancho chile sofrito, and ranchero eggs. The usual lunch dishes include: chopped salad of Diestel turkey, pecans, Point Reyes blue cheese, bacon, avocado and greens; and the Charter Oak Style beef burger with white cheddar and shoestring fries; Kobayashi’s desserts are always top-notch, from the housemade sorbets and ice creams to the tangerine cheesecake with kumquat confit.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- PICTURE PERFECT : Artisan in Paso Robles makes pancakes so light they practically hover.
I discovered McPhee’s provides an excellent brunch that’s one of the best values around if you’re looking for the buffet where you can eat your fill and enjoy the house bubbly or mimosas; it’s value-priced at $25 per person. Guests start at the bar that’s covered with appetizers, salads, seafood plates and desserts. I enjoyed the seared, peppered ahi on crispy tortilla chips and the mozzarella spirals twisted around a layer of prosciutto. McPhee said they make the mozzarella fresh in-house. There was a cheese platter, Caesar salad, broccoli-almond salad, and iced shrimp with cocktail sauce. Another favorite of mine was the housemade blueberry scone: It’s irresistible.
At the window to the kitchen two very accommodating cooks dish up anything you want from the good list of choices: macadamia crusted salmon; oak grilled tri-tip; roast leg of lamb; roast pork loin; perfectly cooked eggs Benedict; the Mexican scramble; blueberry blintzes; thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon; Yukon Gold mashed potatoes; and asparagus. You can ask for a big slice of lamb or salmon, or just a little taste of several dishes as I did, and you can go back for more of the decadent bacon (I did). Desserts include cheesecake, chocolate cake, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Despite the tasty treats offered, I would have found another blueberry scone the perfect ending to that brunch. No matter which of them you choose, you’ll enjoy a great meal.
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