Monday, October 12, 2009

Quite a hazy and non-memorable dinner at Panolivo - Paso Robles

Just like the picture above, dinner was blurry as well. After all, I think we went to 6 wineries in 5 hours. Also I need to apologize because I took horrid notes and couldn't remember a few items. They obviously did not make an impression.

Our first choice for dinner was at Artisan Restaurant, however it was already booked over a month in advance. We ended up making reservations for Panolivo which seemed to have decent reviews. Panolivo is an French Mediterranean restaurant, which was charming and lively on a Saturday night.

Because we had a group of 8, they offered us a prix fixe menu. We got to choose an appetizer, entree and dessert for either $35 or $40, depending on the entree. The prix fixe was actually rather vast; there were so many options to choose from.

Warm bread was served.

Escargot in garlic parsley butter. This was delicious, but it could have been partly because I was starving and a bit buzzed ;-) The garlic parsley sauce was rich, and the snails were drenched in butter. Yummy. Although I enjoyed every bite of this dish, it's something that you can get at many other restaurants.

Bread pastry

Crispy scallops with ponzu sauce and wasabi mayonaise. The scallops were cooked perfectly and I liked the sharp ponzu sauce with the fried scallop. The scallops were juicy and gigantic. The breading reminds me of the hanpen cheese at FuraiBo in Los Angeles because it's light and crispy. I'm planning to head there in a couple weeks, so I'll have photos to post.

Truffle & Four Cheese Sacchetti Ravioli (The cheeses included Black truffle, ricotta, mozzarella and pecorino parmesan) in a creamy tarragon sauce. These were small ravioli purses. Very rich but flavorful dish. Even though I don't like cheese, I was able to eat one of these goodies because the cheese wasn't pungent. Ahh.. if only it was mushroom ravioli instead, I would have gobbled every piece up.

Bruschetta; a mix of slow roasted artichokes and tomatoes served with ciabatta bread.

For entrees:

Mushroom Papardelle pasta, with pearl onions, and sun dried tomato pesto sauce. It's a rather simple dish; the sauce was a bit too creamy but the pasta was fresh. Unfortunately there are very few non-meat dishes so vegetarians are stuck with this heavy and rich dish.

Duck with cherry sauce; seared duck breast with sweet potato fries and french green beans. The duck was just OK. It wasn't very tender and there really wasn't anything special or unique about it. The fries were quite horrendous. I am a sweet potato fry lover but this was starchy and soggy. The fries were literally wet and there wasn't that crispy french fry consistency.

Bison short ribs. The short ribs were coffee marinated, with bacon, pearl onions and served with carrot ribbons. Unfortunately, the meat wasn't very tender as you would hope of braised ribs. Honestly, I am the type of gal who usually cleans her plate, however I gave 1/2 of my ribs away and barely ate the other 1/2. The meat just wasn't scrumptious and fork tender.

Tradional Toulouse cassoulet, with leg of duck confit, Toulouse sausage and lingots blanc beans. Wow, there was actually a whole duck leg confit embedded in the cassoulet, it was so tender, fell off bone and much better than the duck entree. There was also a large sausage in the cassoulet. This is definitely a very filling dish especially since there were too many beans in the cassoulet. Otherwise, the flavors were there, and who can dislike that lovely breaded crust.

Lamb chop with balsamic sauce, served with parmesan gnocchi and crispy artichokes. Looks a bit plain if you ask me. The components of the plate also looked disconnected, and the meat was nothing special.

Beef bourguignon with Pappardella pasta. Beef stewed with bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions. Another boring plate. This SCREAMS of airplane food...

Mahi Mahi with black rice. The fish was cooked well, but the rice was too heavy.

Next up, desserts..

Panna cotta with italian gelatine cream, served with fresh berries and mango coulis. I love panna cotta but normally do not order it because there are usually so many other more exciting desserts on the menu. However this time, I went with it because I didn't want anything too heavy or chocolate. The panna cotta was horrendous. It had the consistency of mozzarella cheese, was really rubbery and very disappointing. Even our waitress agreed - she kindly offered to bring another dessert.

Don't remember what this was, but it sure looked pretty.

Two chocolate bread pudding, dark and white. We packed one to go (our panna cotta replacement) and apparently it tasted darn good around midnight.

Super Decadent Chocolate Trio; Parisian Double chocolate brownie topped with dark chocolate cream sauce, served with chocolate truffle ice cream.

Honestly, the food was sub par. It wasn't horrible, but it sure did not compare to the many amazing French bistros in L.A. Yes, granted the prices were affordable, but the quality of the food was similar to that of the Cheesecake Factory. Some of the entree presentations were boring and really unappealing, the desserts (with the exception of the panna cotta) and the appetizers were significantly better than the entrees. Normally after a whole day of drinking, I'm usually starved and everything would taste delicious. This wasn't the case at Panolivo. Even in my tipsy stage, I could tell a mediocre dinner. Many rave about their pastries, so perhaps we will give it a shot next time and try their brunch. However for dinner next time round, I'll book a reservation at Artisan 3 months in advance!

Hits: duck leg in cassoulet, escargot, most of the desserts, pricing was reasonable
Misses: duck, panna cotta, boring entrees, also need to be more sober if I am planning to write a blog entry...
Rate: **

Panolivo Restaurant
1344 Park St.,
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 239-3366

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