Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thomas Hill Organics: Local & Organic

The culinary scene in Paso Robles is up and coming, with several restaurants opening within the last few years. One such place is Thomas Hill Organics, a Market Bistro and Wine Bar, which is located in downtown Paso Robles. They have only been open since January 2009, but have already acquired some well-justified renown.

The owners, Debbie and Joe Thomas, used to run a CSA but decided to take a chance on opening a restaurant. They also own a ten-acre, organic farm where they have over 800 fruit and nut trees, a vineyard of Italian grapes, and raised beds with greens, garlic, tomatoes and various seasonal vegetables and herbs. All of this organic produce is served at their restaurant, and they sell some of their excess to other local establishments. Their menu changes weekly, depending upon what is available and in season. They purchase as much local as they can, from their bread to their meat.

We stopped there for lunch and were seated in their open-air courtyard, which was very pleasant in the warm weather. Our lunch was also to be a tasting of wines from Villicana Winery and olive oil from Pasolivo. (More details of those tastings will follow in other posts.)

We received several appetizers for the table, and then were able to order off the menu. The lunch menu has Appetizers, Salads & More, and Sandwiches. There were two choices of Appetizers ($7-$14), eight choices of Salad ($7-$15), and five choices of Sandwiches ($11-$14). The choices are intriguing, with creative combinations of ingredients. I also note that they are accomodating, and can omit any ingredients that you may not like.

The initial appetizers included:

*Early Spring Pea Salad with House Saffron Ricotta, Mint Italian Salsa Verde
*Thomas Hill Arugula Salad with Blood Oranges and Bacon Avocado
*Bagna Cauda of Purple Potatoes and Farmed Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs
*Shaved Cauliflower Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette and Candied Kumquats

All of these appetizers used different types of Pasolivo olive oils. Presentation was very nice, and the dishes were good, with tasty combinations of fresh flavors. My favorite of the four was the Bagna Cauda, though the Saffron Ricotta was also especially tasty. The appetizers were very popular with most of our group.

For my entree, I chose the THO Charter Oak Burger and Chorizo with Cambazola Cheese, and Bacon and accompanied by a Field Green Salad ($14). What a compelling burger! The bread was very fresh and soft while the burger was moist and flavorful. There was chorizo mixed in with the beef and its spices were very evident, and quite delicious. The Cambazola cheese, which is kind of a combination of a soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Gorgonzola, was creamy with the tang of a blue cheese. I am unsure if I have ever tasted this cheese before, but I will be seeking it out now.

Dessert was a Strawberry Terrine with a homemade Champagne Ice, sliced strawberries and kumquats. A refreshing treat, it was not overly sweet and possessed bright strawberry flavors. Perfect for a warm weather day, and not too heavy for a lunch dessert.

Overall this was a very enjoyable lunch, and I would recommend the restaurant. Its intent of providing local, organic food is admirable, and the chef is creative in his cuisine. Service was excellent, and the restaurant was quite busy for lunch. This is a popular place and easy to understand the reason for such. If in Paso Robles, make sure to stop by.

Thomas Hill Organics
1305 Park Street
Paso Robles, CA
Phone: 805-226-5888

Thomas Hill Organics on Urbanspoon

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