From the Grapevine: Villa Creek restaurant in Paso Robles [REVIEW]


Dr. Joel M. Fisher is a renowned wine enthusiast, educator and columnist.  He also leads Los Angeles’ biggest and most prestigious wine, brew and spirits festival LA WineFest.  This week Dr. Fisher visits Villa Creek restaurant in Paso Robles.

Dr. Joel M. Fisher

I continued heading north, from Pismo Beach, having had a good meeting and a mediocre breakfast which was sort of lunch — chicken pot pie.  I’m afraid I was ill by the next day, but there it is.  While driving, and not speeding, I thought back to a visit a year before this to Villa Creek , the Chris Cherry-owned restaurant in Paso Robles, not his winery.  As happens all to often on these excursions I was alone and thus able to quickly be seated.  I began with a cold gaspacho soup, with heirloom tomatoes,  garlic, shallots, onions and almond.  Tortilla with salsa was a nice change for me, since I really don’t eat a lot of spicy food.  Nevertheless, I tried the tuna ceviche with avocado, onions, and greens.  This was really wonderful!

Chef for the restaurant, Tom Fondaro, previously cooked for Mark Miller, Tom has been there since 2002.  Chris Cherry wanted the restaurant food to come up to the quality of his wine, and changed the formula to create the best of early California cuisine.  I had their lamb chops, which were big and good, and then tried the halibut, which wasn’t too dried, followed by a portion of Buffalo steak, with lots of flavor and really liked my tastes of these smaller helpings.

The Villa Creek 2001 Grenachewas rounded, with lots of cherry and other fruits.  The wine was described as
‘super gregarious’ and it did shout to me to enjoy the glass!  I also enjoyed a Treana red 2006, a red blend which was great with dinner and with the cheese plate–seven choices which also paired well with a 2007 Villa Creek Garnacha.

Villa-Creek-RestaurantWhy am I thinking about this dinner now?  It was a real find, and I was waiting to be met 50 feet away from the restaurant.   But, now, I was rushed to the tasting room of Anglim Winery.  I figured the owners would both be in Atascadero for a tasting there, but the lovely and knowledgable Stephanie Anglim was behind the bar.  Steven was headed for the other locations needing him.

You might recall that I served the Cameo at the Fathers Day/Birthday dinner on June 17th, which my daughter in law missed.  So, I felt compelled to buy the Rousanne for the next dinner at their house. I tested the 2007

Rousanne, which had rich honey like flavors in the mouth, and apple and some cloves on the palate.  This will go with a fish dish, which I am likely to be served on lets keep dad healthy.  The 2007 Viognier was very much fruit forward, with melon and white peach evident in both the nose, and some of that richness on the palate.  The floral characteristics  seemed more lush than they had in the past, both in aroma and its flavors.  Very nice.

From the reds I found the 2007 Mouvedre from the Hastings Ranch Vineyard in Paso with lots of spicy white pepper surrounded by dark berries some spice and smooth tannins.  Then, the Cabernet Sauvignon from the local Starr Ranch was another very lush, rich wine with lots of fruit,herbs, vanilla encased by wild berries.  I finished with a little desert wine, not available any more if I remember correctly. The 2005 Best Barrel Blend (Paso Robles) is a Rhone blend of Mouvedre, Syrah and Grenache. with lots of earth, spice and dark berries and smooth tannins.

Then it was time to head to Chez Cheeseborough for a barbequed dinner.  More on that at another time…

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