A Gluten-Free Haven at Linn’s Restaurant
During my time living in the Santa Ynez Valley, I always loved any chance I got to head to Cambria. Cambria is 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo, and 230 miles south from San Francisco. A humble, small town, Cambria is known for their stunning Moonstone Beach, as well as their annual Scarecrow Festival and a great Main street drag of restaurants.
One of their dining staples is the absolute gem of a cafe, Linn’s. Linn’s Restaurant is known for their “olallieberry”; a youngberry crossed with a loganberry. The primary fruit grown on their beautiful farm nearby, a olallieberry tastes similar to the Knotts’ famous boysenberry, or blackberry. While very tart, it did not provoke any crazy “lip smacking” and was a great sweet treat…on the MANY dishes I recently got to experience on a visit to Linn’s!
Heading in on a rainy Sunday, we were quickly greeted by our hostess, Kim and while the place was bustling, she assured us it would be less than a 20 minute wait. We were so engrossed with their bakery and gift shoppe that it felt more like a 5 minute wait. All decked out and ready for the holidays, Linn’s shoppe may not be ample, yet, they manage to have enough variety and beautiful adornments that you feel inside a proper department store.
We were soon escorted to our cozy corner table with a great window view of the rain coming down and the locals enjoying a stroll under their umbrellas. Mr. Linn himself, Aaron, soon came over to greet us and was an absolute delight to chat with. A Cambria native, The Linn’s have been operating their restaurant and farm since the 1980’s. If you want to know anything about Cambria and their townspeople, go have a chat with Aaron and he can fill you in on the what/where/when of the town. Great guy!
They’re also not shy to encourage you to try the entire menu. I was very excited to head to Linn’s as nearly everything is gluten-free (or they will gladly assist you if an item is not). Aaron’s mom has Celiac, so they know first hand the excitement you feel when you hear “olallieberry chocolate brownie cake….gluten-free” or, my personal favorite: warm bread baskets that are gluten-free brought to your table.
We began our food journey with one of their most famous appetizers, their Ocean Rose Farm abalone. Having not recalled experiencing albalone, I was anxious to see why this is such a special dish. One bite, and I knew. Locally sourced albalone from nearby Cayucos is served with two hazelnut encrusted medallions, lemon-thyme beurre blanc and a decadent jicama-jalapeño slaw. While not a gluten-free dish, simply mention if you need it to be, and they adjust the encrusted medallions for you. Perfection!
With so much already having gone down (chats with the locals, gluten-free galore, great coffee, great atmosphere), it was time for Mike and I to make our big decision: Whats for lunch?! I decided to take advantage of a late breakfast (Weekends they serve it until 2pm, other days, 12p) and try one of their favorite omelettes, The Moon Stone beach with an abundance of shrimp, dungeness crab, tomato, green onion, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. While Mike decided on an old reliable: their Hearst Ranch beef cheeseburger with fries.
The Moon Stone omelette was to die for. The seafood so fresh, I would imagine it could have been caught that morning, while the flavor combinations of the cheese and veggies enhanced it perfectly. Mike enjoyed his burger, and the presentation was gorgeous and made it hard to want to dig in (Just a little….).
We were very stuffed by the time we had many options for dessert coming our way….check out what Aaron and staff insisted we try….
See all this, folks? Mike and I were able to get it all down…and, as some of you know, I am a type 1 diabetic. I am pleased to say with the proper amount of insulin injections that day, I was able to keep my sugars in a good range! I truly thought this could be my last supper. Death of a sugar rush. And, what a great last supper it would have been! 😉
First up, was that irresistible chocolate brownie concoction, followed by their famous pecan chew cookie delight with Linn’s pecan chew cookie, Brazilian coffee ice cream, house made caramel sauce, candied walnuts and just a little real whipped cream. Bravo!