843 12th Street
It is hard to do any research on places to eat in Paso Robles and not come across Artisan. The positive internet chatter is only reinforced by the word of mouth recommendation of the local wine slingers. In short, it seems that all signs point to Artisan being a must stop on any Central Coast trip.
Artisan is conveniently located in the Paso Robles city center, right off the quaint town square. When we arrived, the place was bustling as expected and we had a short wait for our table which we toughed out at the bar.
The food is touted as being loaded with locally sourced and often organic ingredients. Artisan uses these ingredients to serve up a wide selection of small plates with a handful of large plates that cover the major food groups. The mouthwatering descriptions tempted me to order just about everything; I wasn’t able to have my way on this front but luckily sharing is easy and the three of us hit most of the key plates I was eyeing.
We ordered a series of five small plates, split up in two waves.
Spanish White Anchovies; marinated olives and Arbequina oliva oil
The dish contained about 6 slivers of anchovies with a selection of marinated olives and peppers plus a stack of crostini. A great dish to start noshing on, the olives were warm and salty which complimented the saltiness of the fish.
Salmon Tartare; avocado hummus, challah, Oregon wasabi
The salmon tartare is served on crispy, toasted bread which acts as a great delivery vessel. The complimentary ingredients has a good taste but I felt the salmon was a little too subtle.
Mushroom Toast; bacon, brioche, poached egg, crème fraîche
Meatballs; ricotta gnocchi, piave, ragu
While not meatballs in a traditional sense (slathered in red sauce), this dish was refreshing. The meatballs were soft and juicy. The gnocchi was soft and chewy, with the stuffing smoothly blended. The unexpected layer of greens added some much needed vitamins after a long day of wine and fast food.
Hand Harvested Lettuce; garden vegetables, carizzo
A fancy description for a salad, this fellow was crisp and refreshing.
This satisfied most of my small plates desires with my only semi-regret being not picking up the abalone.
We ordered two large plates; however one was cut into prior to my photo session. The missing item was the Halibut, which was a little fishy.
Boar Tenderloin; fennel risotto, feta, apple, star anise
This was my first time having boar which I quickly learned is a fantastic meat, tasting of a cow/pig hybrid. The precut medallions made sharing easy however the delicious flavor made me somewhat unwilling. The risotto base was creamy and the accompanying sauce rich.
Grasshopper Sundae; walnut brownie, mint stracciatella
Dessert was ordered while I was away from the table, much to my chagrin I returned to see a food nemesis – mint ice cream. I did however try and and confirm that the ice cream was in fact very minty. The whipped cream topping was nice. I probably would have enjoyed the brownie encapsulated at the bottom if it wasn’t already covered in melted mint by the time it was excavated.
The meal at Artisan was great. The service was on point and well paced. The food was fresh, well prepared and plated, and not to mention delicious. Artisan definitely lived up to the recommendation and hype.