Paul Martin’s American Bistro is located in the newish shopping center with the European theme across from Carmax. I became interested in this restaurant after seeing some of Rachel Valley’s food shots. Other than those photos and some random mentions of it here and there I didn’t know much about it before my visit. I gathered a small group of friends, we made reservations through opentable.com and off we went for a Friday night dinner. We arrived at about ten minutes early for our 8:30 reservation but were seated immediately. The restaurant was busy but not packed. The five of us were seated at a large round table in the middle of the restaurant which gave us room to spread out and not feel cramped as drinks, appetizers and entrees arrived. The place is dimly lit and has a cool chill atmosphere. It immediately reminded me of Crush 29, though it’s slightly more relaxed.
Our waiter (who reminded me of Joey Quinn from Dexter both in appearance and demeanor) was to our table quickly and took our drink orders. There wasn’t a large selection of beers on draught, (though there may have been bottles, we didn’t ask) but they definitely had a lot of wine to choose from. Also they clearly had a full and well stocked bar from what we could see from the table.
I went with a Lost Coast Hefeweizen. It was not served with a lemon as all the hefes I’ve ever had usually are, but I didn’t feel like I needed it. It’s possible they added a bit of lemon to it at the bar before handing it off to the servers.
I ordered the Town Dock Calamari (buttermilk battered with chili aioli & house cocktail sauce) appetizer to get us started. Shortly before that arrived we were served some tasty bread and butter. The calamari wasn’t great, but it was good. They were very hot and the batter and flavor of the calamari itself was good, but they were not very tender. The chili aioli sauce was awesome and made me forget about the toughness. Mmmm…love the tentacles.
When it was time to order I realized I had been too absorbed in whatever conversation was going on and enjoying the calamari to choose something. I panicked briefly and picked the Pitman Family Farms “Brick” Chicken (free-range chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh herb jus). I’m not sure what drew my attention to it. I don’t often order chicken because I fear it will be dry or boring and that I’ll have missed out on something more exciting. This chicken is going to make me set aside those fears in the future. I think I might go so far as to say it was possibly the best chicken I’ve ever had. Seriously. It was ridiculously tender and juicy (served au jus I suppose helps out a great deal here, it was practically swimming in a lake of it’s own delicious juices). The skin was left on which was an excellent bonus. The mashed potatoes were hot and buttery. Towards the end I started dowsing them with the excess juice on the plate which took them to a whole other level.
Other items ordered by my friends:
Local Corn & Quinoa Chowder (roasted corn, quinoa & amaranth, poblano pesto oil)
Butter Lettuce & Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese (candied walnuts, apples, maple vinaigrette)
Prime New York Steak (meyer ranch all natural beef, pt. reyes blue cheese butter, roasted red potatoes, sautéed organic bloomsdale spinach)
Bistro Burger (fresh ground meyer ranch natural angus, black pepper aioli and fries, plus tillamook cheddar and all natural bacon)
Marinated Skirt Steak (roasted maple-bourbon sweet potatoes and arugula, mashed potatoes substituted for the sweet potatoes)
There were positive comments from all around the table on their food. I ended up skipping desert, but I’d like to return and have some. The desert menu was very tempting. We took a while ordering and also to leave but our waiter was very patient and continued to check on refills well after our bill was paid which I rarely experience anywhere, so big props there. I’ve heard from a couple people that they felt Paul Martin’s is a bit overpriced. It is a slight bit on the high side (~$40 for my beer, chicken and calamari), and you can easily go nuts if you try, but I felt it was worth it. I’ll be back for sure.
Oh, and by request, a new rating system:
I give Paul Martin’s 4.5 of 5. Tender calamari and possibly a slight price drop would make this a perfect 5.
Finally, here’s a random cool shot that presented itself when my iPhone found it’s way behind my water glass