A Restaurant Review For The Foodie In You
Cooking every meal you eat 7 days a week can get a little mundane. Having a kitchen routine can be both wonderful and boring. Every now and then I get into a cooking rut where nothing really sounds appealing to cook.
One way to help bust these “I-don’t-want-to-cook” blues is to peruse Pinterest recipes. But, let’s be honest- how many of those pins do we actually cook? Usually the pinning mayhem is futile.
Another way that has actually worked on multiple occasions is to just throw some butter in a pan and commit. Because seriously, is there a better way to start a meal than with the sound and smell of sizzling butter? YUM!
But every now and then, the old butter-in-a-pan trick just doesn’t cut it.
On those such times, I know it’s best for me to simply get out of my kitchen and let someone else be chef for our family.
And I want to share that tip with you-
When you’re feeling less than inspired to cook:
Dining out is a sure-fire way to ignite creativity in your inner foodie.
Are you in a cooking slump? Do you need a little spark in motivation to cook a delicious meal? Sometimes the best way to get inspired is to enjoy someone else’s creativity.
January is California’s Restaurant Month and it’s the perfect time to go out and get refreshed! Most participating restaurants build a special menu highlighting their best dishes and you really don’t want to miss it!
After my hubby got home from a week long work trip, I decided a night out for dinner was just what we needed. And I definitely wanted to take part in restaurant month. I searched the participating restaurants for a menu that offered a few choices for each course so we could get something different and try each other’s selection. (Yes, we are that annoying couple that feed each other in the corner booth.) 😉
Choosing The Restaurant
I was really impressed with the menu options that Ocean Grill in Avila Beach had. Seriously, it’s quite an enticing menu. They developed a special menu of three courses for a set price of $30/person (tax and tip not included). I love that they offered at least three different options to choose from in each course (appetizer, entree, and dessert). View their Restaurant Month Menu here.
Another reason Ocean Grill stood out to me was their devotion to supporting local farms. I found this directly on their menu:
That is a good sign, fellow foodies. Beyond supporting their surrounding community, locally grown ingredients always make fresher, better tasting food!
Ocean Grill also developed their menu with specialty diets in mind. They offer gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian dishes. I love when restaurants make dining on their food easy and accessible regardless of your dietary preferences and needs.
And lastly, check out this shot from their website.
Doesn’t that look like an invitation for a gorgeous and romantic evening?
So off we went for a delicious date night!
We arrived right about 5pm on a Sunday night as their happy hour was ending and dinner was just starting. I think 5pm is the perfect time to arrive. The restaurant at that time is quaint and intimate.
We sat at a table along the wide open windows and this was our view-
The most beautiful sunset over the Pacific Coast I have ever seen! (My iphone 4 does NOT do the colors justice whatsoever. Not even a little.) Trust me on this, it was BEAUTIFUL!
The gentleman who seated us also got our drinks. He didn’t miss a beat the whole time we were there. He brought out this amazing fresh baked bread with butter, cleared our plates the moment we finished our last bite each course, and engaged in conversation with us at just the right amount. You know how some servers are overly chatty or act like they are trying to secretly come and go from your table unnoticed? He was not like either of those extremes at all. He was great!
And our main server was equally delightful. She was really sweet and genuinely interested in whether or not our experience was going well. She knew the menu really well and helped me decide on the crispy brussel sprouts appetizer (and I am SO glad she did).
Their crispy brussel sprouts are amazing!! Perfectly cooked- crispy on the outside, tender in the middle, delicious brussel sprouts! The sprouts were on top of two sauces- smoked paprika aioli & a balsamic reduction. And they were so tasty! Topped with dried cherries & goat cheese, this appetizer had the most perfect flavor combinations.
My husband ordered the house-made pork belly. It came dressed in a sweet & spicy ginger glaze with shaved brussel sprouts, on a bed of a carrot & jicima salad with a citrus vinaigrette. He was most anticipating the pork belly (which he thoroughly enjoyed), but to his pleasant surprise, the salad was a huge hit!
For our entrees we ordered the local free range ½ chicken and grilled Alaskan salmon. The chicken’s skin was cooked to a delicious crisp yet the meat was incredibly moist! The chicken rested on potato gratin, braised greens and topped with a cherry almond fennel garnish. The potatoes were tender and creamy. There was also this light and delicious Madeira chicken gravy- YUM! But my biggest surprise was how delicious the fennel was in this dish. It was sliced very thin and captured a really sweet flavor that I have never found in fennel before. This dish was layers and levels of flavor. A definite must to order.
My husband’s salmon was first of all wild-caught. Hooray for a restaurant that features wild and not farmed fish. The fish had a fresh taste and was paired with perfectly cooked sweet & spicy broccolini. We make broccolini at home quite a bit, and theirs did not disappoint. This was served on top of pan fried quinoa, carrots & daikon. Quinoa has the potential to be a little bitter and overpowering, but not in this dish, thanks to the lemon ginger glaze.
For dessert we had pear sorbet and a brown butter chocolate chip skillet cookie.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, then you know the brown butter is what sold me. The vanilla bean ice cream, slightly melted from the heat of the fresh-from-the-oven cookie was delicious! And of course, topped in some hot chocolate sauce. What more could a girl want? And look how cute that mini skillet is! Yes, I did taste this before getting a picture. Can you blame me? 😉
The pear sorbet was mild and refreshing. A dairy-free option that was topped with a few fresh raspberries and a raspberry sauce. Delicate and delicious.
Eating here has inspired us to plan our meals with more time and attention to detail. Rather than having separate components- the meat and veggie sides, I am really inspired to allow subtle nuances to shine. The chefs at Ocean Grill took time to enhance and develop all the flavors in each dish. They put thought into their flavors and combinations. Nothing went unnoticed.
Now It’s Your Turn For A Night Out!
If you’re lacking some creativity and desire in your kitchen, go out as a foodie. Take time with your meal. Savor every bite. Talk about the tastes you’re enjoying on your plate. And watch how that inspires you to make something delicious!
Our night out was amazing. I can hardly wait to go back. If you’re wanting to get out and enjoy the tastes and views of the Central Coast, Ocean Grill is a must destination!