The Black Stallion in Paso Robles is galloping ahead with a new owner, new menu and new gastropub concept.
Opting to keep the name, Mark Mishalanie took the reins of an existing restaurant in the Food 4 Less Plaza on Creston Road in March. The remodeled interior offers a spacious dining area with plenty of room for groups, but also has cozier seating at banquettes, at the bar and outside.
With four televisions already in place and a couple more on the way, Black Stallion gives sports fans a lively, comfortable spot to watch all the big games while enjoying craft drafts, wine and seasonal upscale pub food.
Hailing from San Diego, Mishalanie is a classically trained chef and also a veteran of several local farm-to-table kitchens. With Black Stallion, he’s bringing that technique and experience to his gastropub menu.
“It’s easy to forget just how good-tasting good bar food can be, especially if you start with fresh, local, organic ingredients and give them the attention they deserve,” he explained. “We’re prepping everything fresh every day, doing everything in house — right down to our handcrafted lemonades.” He added that a lot of the produce comes from his own garden, an aspect of the restaurant he’d like to eventually expand.
Indeed, while a quick look at the Black Stallion menu shows typical bar fare — burgers, potato skins and the like — a closer look reveals such touches as Spanish anchovies on the Caesar salad, house-smoked turkey breast for The Turk sandwich, and a dinner entrée of a spice-rubbed prime coulotte steak served with wilted spinach, mushroom purée and mashed root vegetables.
“Really though, The Black Stallion Burger is probably the most representative of the menu,” said Mishalanie. “It’s big — I wanted that cartoony-big burger — and it’s hand-formed of grass-fed, organic chuck and brisket, topped with 2-year-aged Cheddar, housemade aioli and housemade pickle.”
Rounding out the rest of the equally respectable burger lineup are The Goat (topped with goat cheese, date puree, caramelized shallots and arugula) and Firestarter (housemade bacon, Jack cheese, haystack onions and two housemade sauces: jalapeño aioli and the very spicy and aptly named Devil’s Blood).
Other sandwiches include the Philly with thin sliced roast beef and two cheeses, the vegetarian Conejo with house-pickled peppers, and the Calishwarmication with housemade shawarma and tzatziki (yogurt sauce). You can also order house-smoked sausages, as well as appetizers ranging from Nacho Stix (jack cheese breaded with corn chips and deep fried) to caramelized Brussels sprouts with bacon, to hot wings served with a trio of housemade sauces (blue cheese, Ranch and that Devil’s Blood).
Other dinner entrées include lamb and beef shawarma on flatbread, a stuffed pork chop with grilled fruit, and daily fish specials such as pan-seared scallops or moules frites (mussels topped with fries). Mishalanie will be also changing up parts of both the lunch and dinner menus on a seasonal basis.
As for the “pub” part of the gastropub equation, Black Stallion features eight taps that continually rotate with craft draft selections. Recently, the lineup included a Goose Island 312 Urban Pale from Chicago, a Ninkasi Total Domination India Pale Ale from Oregon and a Golden Road “Wolf Among Weeds” IPA from Los Angeles. Craft ciders will be showcased as well, and the ever-expanding bottled selections include several local wines and even a hard root beer.
“This is really a life’s dream,” said Mishalanie. “I’ve been looking for something like this a long time, literally my whole life. Most little boys dream about becoming cowboys — I’ve always wanted my own restaurant.”