Restaurant News & Reviews

Paso Robles eatery The Dish offers simple sophistication

A strawberry salad is served with a Kahlua cocktail at The Dish in Paso Robles.
A strawberry salad is served with a Kahlua cocktail at The Dish in Paso Robles. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Want “the dish” on one of the newest restaurants in Paso Robles? Well, it’s actually called The Dish.

Tucked away on 13th Street at the site of a former steakhouse, The Dish opened for dinner service in June 2013 but recently expanded to both lunch and dinner seven days a week. It’s also one of the few late-night spots in town, with both kitchen and bar hours extending to midnight.

“It’s a niche we wanted to fill,” said manager Molly Holland. “We’re late-night, but it’s a little more upscale and even though we have live music, it still keeps the restaurant vibe.”

With its hardwood floors and exposed brick wall, The Dish offers just the right touch of comfort meets sophistication. Seating is available at a dozen or so tables that can seat two or be pushed together to accommodate different arrangements. 

You can also pull up a chair at the long wooden bar stretching the length of the room and enjoy a ringside seat as bartender Tony Bennett (yes, that’s his name, no relation) concocts his creative craft cocktails. If you’re in the mood for beer or wine, The Dish’s wine list celebrates local labels by the bottle or by the glass, and the beer taps sport local craft brews such as Firestone.

For the food side of things, Holland said that the goal was “to keep it simple, but have a broad spectrum of food.”

Chef Michael Cody delivers on that promise at both lunch and dinner, dishing up a spectrum of straightforward fare and kicked-up plates. For guests just wanting a little something to go with wine and conversation, there are cheese plate appetizers, while patrons wanting to tuck into something substantial can easily find heartier fare. 

The lunch offerings range from a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with cranberry to a burger infused with blue cheese, from a chipotle chicken sandwich to a grilled Cajun shrimp salad with chipotle dressing, from the “805 Mac and Cheese” with five cheeses to the chili verde tacos with corn and black bean salsa.

Many of the lunch items are also available at dinner, but the choices also expand to include starters such as Alaskan king crab legs or a slider combo with one each of shrimp, filet and ground beef. Additional entrées are a farfalle with housemade Alfredo sauce, a marinated grilled chicken breast and two aged, hand cut steaks served with vegetables and potatoes — a 10-ounce filet and a 16-ounce rib eye.

One of the dishes common to both menus is the fried Brussels sprouts, and it’s quickly becoming a customer favorite — even among those who thought they didn’t like Brussels sprouts. At The Dish, this ample appetizer is topped with both thick bacon crumbles and Cambozola cheese (a luscious combination of blue cheese and Brie-style cheese) then drizzled with a balsamic vinegar glaze.

“We are working on expanding the menu a bit,” said Holland. “We’ll be adding more vegetarian options like a panko-crusted eggplant Parmesan.” In addition, more special events will be on tap, such as bourbon and scotch tastings, as well as food and wine pairing menus.

As Bennett explained, “we want to offer casual fine dining that’s affordable.” Holland agreed, adding that “we wanted to give people a place that’s not loud, where they can sit and relax and drink some wine and just talk.

The Dish

835 13th St. (between Park and Pine streets), Paso Robles | 296-3131 | www.thedishpasorobles.com

Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-midnight

The scene: Comfortable restaurant ambiance with live music several nights a week.

The cuisine: A broad but focused menu offers a good range of fare — from light and casual to hearty and upscale.

Expect to spend: Most starters $8-15, sandwiches and salads $13-15, entrées $15-35.

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