Dinner at Robin’s (Cambria, CA)

Robin’s was recommended by two different townspeople. The chef seems to have high aspirations since he prepares “special” menus throughout the year and even has a Japanese menu paired with different kinds of sake. The menu is also eclectic, offering seafood items, Indian-themed dishes and a heavy influence of Asian fusion. This seemed promising, so we decided to give it a try.

This may be one of the best restaurants in town, but aspiration exceeded execution. We ordered only appetizers and salad. The steamed mussels and clams suffered from mussel meat that was not plump, seemingly dehydrated, if that’s at all possible. There wasn’t much to chew. The clams were fine although somewhat large for our taste. But the biggest problem was that the shellfish were overcooked, almost rubbery, also making the strips of ham chewy. The broth was flavorful, worthy of bread-dipping (we had to ask for a basket of bread, which itself was not that great) though salty.

Ale-steamed mussels and clams with Canadian bacon

The crab cake appetizer was overfried, the batter almost crunchy. We think they used rock crab, which is plentiful around here, and thankfully, they didn’t use too much bread as filler. The cakes sat on top of a remoulade and parsley oil.

Spring onion crab cakes with caper-chive remoulade

The specially featured local albarino (Tangent) wine was very good. Overall, not a special meal at all.

4095 Burton Drive
Cambria, CA 93428
Sample menu

Cambria (CA)

Driving along the California coast is a spectacular experience. California Highway 1, in particular, has many rewards, not only breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean but little towns that are free from over-commercialization. Take Cambria, for example. Situated about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it attracts travelers from both, a picturesque village of beaches and rugged cliffs, only a few miles south of San Simeon. The commercial district extends but a few blocks, yet is quaint in character, including a small farmers market that we happened upon. We discovered that Cambria can play host to special events, including club gatherings. During our stay at the Bluebird Inn, there was a rally of a Triumph car club whose proud owners were showing them off.

To feed the tourists who stay in the motels and B&Bs, there are a good number of restaurants, some aspiring to be fine enough to feature tablecloths and linens.

Eggs benedict for breakfast at Redwood Cafe

Eggs benedict for breakfast at Redwood Cafe

The many wineries in San Luis Obispo county provide a wealth of good bottles, available in wine shops, including Fermentations where, after a wine tasting, I joined their wine club.

The biggest surprise was the rookeries of elephant seals that make the beaches from here to San Simeon their home. Several stops along the highway afford excellent views of them. They can even be seen in the waters off the coast (also see picture above).

Elephant seals on a beach south of San Simeon

Elephant seals on a beach south of San Simeon