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A “Sideways” Glance

I just returned from a trip to the Los Angeles area with my husband (my “foodie” soul mate) to visit family.  Whenever we get a chance, we slip away to the nearby Santa Ynez  Valley wine country (immortalized in the 2004 movie “Sideways”)  for a day of tasting as well as enjoying the gorgeous scenery on our drive up the coast.  Rather than talking about wine today,  which could fill many blogs, I have to share a terrific restaurant find.  We were in the town of Los Olivos around noon and feeling the need for something solid, when we caught sight of a beautiful vine draped porch set up for outdoor dining.

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Run…don’t even hesitate – to dine at the Los Olivos Cafe!  Besides a setting right out of a painting, this charming restaurant earns raves for service, food and an award-winning wine list.  Indoor dining looked just as inviting but with sunny, warm weather (and being from Seattle), the outdoor option was just too great to refuse.

We are “grazers” in order to try a wide variety of dishes.  Our server was thoughtful in his recommendations for both food and wine pairing, returning to check on us often – but was never obtrusive.   Alert – we almost filled up on their incredible bread and house-made olive oil, so do not let yourself be tempted beyond one basket full!  Starters worth trying – definitely the Rustic Spreads which include generous portions of the Cafe’s signature tapenade muffaletta (took us back to New Orleans) and hummus.  Great flavor in both and the hummus didn’t overwhelm your palate with garlic, as so often is the case.  The Artisan Cheese Plate had three extremely good sized portions of cow, goat and milk cheese – again, selected with great attention to quality, freshness and taste.

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The indoor “wall of wines” made famous in the aforementioned movie is a guarantee that you won’t go thirsty.   Again, based on our dining choices, our server guided us, providing some sample tastes along the way.

A few more thoughts – I am sure I was a bunny in a former life (not Playboy, as in rabbit!) and the salads were .   The Cafe Nicoise featured an entree size portion of fish along with egg, olives, green beans, new potatoes , cherry tomatoes and greens, and a light vinaigrette.  We ogled another table’s entrees of Cafe Salmon and an immense 8 ounce grilled Angus burger, but couldn’t squeeze in another bite.

We would return in a heartbeat – and will!   Next time we intend to end a day of wine tasting with dinner there and perhaps an overnight at the Fess Parker Inn, which is just across the street.  Here’s the info:

Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe:  2879 Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, CA.    Phone:  805-688-7265   LosOlivosCafe.com

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