Robert's: a fresh twist on classic cuisine

Posted: Monday, Jan 3rd, 2011

Robert's Executive Chef Ryan Swarthout plates pan-roasted salmon with wild rice, roasted zucchini and lemon beurre blanc during dinner service.

Local couple Brenda and Bob Clouston have pulled their passions together to create Robert’s, a fresh downtown restaurant located at 1218 Pine St.

The duo spared no detail when it came to dreaming up their own eatery, drawing on their love of fine food, travel and a general zest for life that spills into the dining experience.

Brenda, a 25-year interior designer, imparted her signature “fresh traditional” style to the locale. White, floor-skimming tablecloths, custom-made plush chairs and walls lined with iconic, black-and-white photographs give interior a simple shot of elegance.

“I wanted a design that is classic,” said Brenda. “It’s modern with a fresh approach, like the food.”

The menu is expansive, encompassing traditional favorites like pork flatiron with crushed sweet potatoes to Dungeness crab cakes cooked with Asian-inspired papaya slaw and drizzled with sweet Thai chili sauce.

Locals can order up a range of entrees, including herb-crusted rack of lamb, roasted wild mushroom lasagna and grilled rib eye steak with crispy macaroni and cheese. Salads also boast their own flair, holding their own with embellishments like red-wine poached pear, crunchy hazelnuts and chipotle buttermilk dressing.

“We tested 150 items, and for months on end all we did was come in and have what [the chefs] cooked us and critiqued the food. That’s how we got down to the menu we have today,” said Bob. The task took a painstaking six months, but the couple said it’s been well worth it. Having tasted, discussed, revised and approved each item, the menu is truly something the Cloustons can stand behind, and the couple said Executive Chef Ryan Swarthout has done an incredible job of putting it all on the plate.

“Ryan’s extensive culinary background in the wine industry has given him the experience to showcase locally grown produce and proteins, beautifully paired with local wines, enhancing the flavors of both,” said Brenda.

The wine list itself took about three months to complete and features a revolving door of local favorites that refreshes about every three weeks.

“We love to get the [diners’] reactions on the wines when we introduce them to the menu,” said Brenda, who casually chatted with guests during the interview.

One customer, Templeton resident Jennifer O’Keefe, referred the dining room as an “elegant and special” place to spend the evening. “It’s so bright and airy, it brought a smile to my face,” she added.

The couple plan to join the Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association shortly. Brenda said she remembers the stark contrast of downtown in the ‘70s, when many shops were boarded up and business dwindled.

Now the core bustles with activity as shops, tasting rooms and restaurants entice locals to stay and play in Paso...

For the complete article see the 01-04-2011 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-04-2011 paper.

Share on Facebook