A Return Visit to Thomas Hill Organics
I’m walking down the tree lined Park Street in Downtown Paso Robles. it’s a brisk Central California evening. While it’s not too joviality on the streets, take a look inside to one of the several bars and restaurants, and you will see small, lively groups of people. Mostly local, perhaps, enjoying some drinks or a great meal. When I enter Thomas Hill Organics, a large bar and a wall of wines greet me to my left, while nic-naks and cozy tables and chairs await my right.
Behind the bar is none other than Thomas Hill’s owner, Debbie Thomas. Thomas welcomes me warmly and takes me to where all of the action really goes down: in their dining room. While window shoppers may mistake the un-assuming Thomas Hill Organics as a wine bar and shop. It is so much more. Their secluded back patio is an intimate space with one of the best kitchens you will find in San Luis Obispo County.
Heated lamps surround you to ensure you enjoy your meal to its fullest. The surroundings are lit dimly just enough to make Thomas Hill the ideal option for whatever your evening is about. I was among a young couple with an extremely well-behaved infant, a group of ladies looking to be enjoying a girls night out, and a gentleman who was in search of a great whole fish; head on, bone-in. Something that you will not often encounter even at a farm to table establishment.
While “farm to table” has become more of the norm than it was even 5 years ago, Thomas was one of the true pioneers to deliver fresh, organic foods to her diners. Even in the very agricultural-bent San Luis Obispo County.
It was in 2004 that Thomas left Pasadena to relocate to Paso Robles. She took a position with Adidas, and when that time came to an end Thomas was part owner of a ten acre organic farm. It seemed only fitting to launch a restaurant. This was nearly a decade ago and Thomas Hill Organics has been a success ever since.
With almost everything locally sourced, each season will find you with an irresistible new menu. So many decisions, so little time. Not to mention Renee, my wonderful server, had several specials as well. Coconut red curry, roasted duck, seafood pasta. Even bone-marrow and parsnip soups of the day. Where’s a gal to start?
Thankfully for me, Debbie and Corporate Executive Chef Kurt Metzger had my back. They graciously assisted in my dining choices. Starting off my meal was a beautifully presented poached pear salad. A colorful (and delicious) starter, the tart pears were balanced expertly with smoked blue cheese. This was a great beginning as I moved into my next decadent plate.
Chef Kurt’s scallops with orange rum sauce were nothing short of perfection. It was a real treat when Debbie called out Metzger himself to tell me more about this dish I simply could not get enough of. While often scallops get a bad wrap for being well, fishy, these were full of flavor. Sourced from the Catalina Island region, the scallops soaked in the orange rum sauce made them just melt in my mouth. While I’ve had rum sauces that were just a tad too strong, Metzger explained that the key is including orange rinds in his recipe. Thus, this waters down the rum while enhancing the marmalade-like flavor.
If Thomas Hill ever decides to sell this sauce by the bottle, I would be first in line for a few!
As I moved into entrees, I admit I was anxious to see what their red coconut curry had in store. A vegan dish, it made me wonder what Thomas Hill has for vegans dining with them? Luckily, Chef Kurt has you covered. While the menu may not always list meat-free options, just alert the staff and they will whip you up something special in true Thomas Hill form.
Jalapenos atop the curry creation indicated I was in for a bit of spice. Fresh veggies like baby carrots showed off what Thomas Hill Organics is all about. As did my helping of purple rice. Yes, I said purple rice! While this grain is new to my radar, it boasts the most antioxidants to a rice and reminded me just how cutting edge Thomas Hill is with their menu offerings.
On my inaugural visit to Thomas Hill Organics, I left loving their sole fish. On their current menu, their Thai chili salmon had me intrigued. With such a terrific track record for serving some of the best seafood around, I was excited to experience this Canadian-sourced Atlantic salmon.
Having just enjoyed my spicy Thai curry, their salmon was a fantastic addition. Moist, flaky and with a great crust, the filet was bursting with flavor. Each of my dishes were accompanied by my glass of Tolosa 2015 ‘No Oak’ Chardonnay from Edna Valley. From my salad to the salmon, this was the one wine I stayed with. Often, I enjoy a different varietal as I enjoy each plate. No need with this Chardonnay–it was ideal for every dish I enjoyed. Even dessert.
Oh yes, my friends. It’s become a bit of a ‘running joke’ that just when I think I cannot handle anymore great food, I am asked 3 dirty words. “Room for dessert?” There was no way I could pass on what Renee had to offer.
While I’m no stranger to a great chocolate cake, I was not too familiar with a chocolate marquise. Smooth, decadent, dense, rich. Dare I add, sinful? These were just a few words that came to mind as I tried this phenomenal sweet treat. I’ve always remembered how luscious their panna cotta was on my last visit. Yet, I think their chocolate marquise takes the cake (see what I did there?) as one of the finest desserts I’d had in awhile.
Thomas Hill Organics is one of San Luis Obsipo County’s hidden gems. Do yourself a favor and plan a weekend getaway to Paso Robles and make sure to visit Thomas Hill Organics.Make your reservations HERE. I know I am thinking of their weekend brunch next time I am in town. xo
(*Disclosure: I was a guest of Thomas Hill Organics on behalf of this feature. All opinions are my own and I cannot thank Debbie enough for her continued hospitality.)