The historic setting of Mill Valley’s Paseo – A California Bistro has a special occasion feel all year round, so although the wait for its extended pandemic opening has kept the lights dim for some time (two years to to be exact), it is an appropriate season for the gift of his return.
The freshly updated classic downtown restaurant known since 1947 as El Paseo opened on Friday. The restaurant was purchased in 2019 by Mill Valley resident and entrepreneur Ki Yong Choi from local resident and multi-platinum rock musician Sammy Hagar.
“Choi was a customer and knows and appreciates the incredible historic location,” said General Manager Kevin Pacotti, a Bay Area marketing consultant and restaurant industry veteran who has been involved in the project from the start.
Pacotti says the intention was to adhere as much as possible to the age-old style of the celebration venue, maintaining the intimate European vibe in the evenings while creating a smoother and more welcoming daytime environment. This includes replacing dark wood table tops with white quartz, lightening dark interior panels and brick walls, and installing glass shelves.
Previously known as a night-only destination, guests can now visit the two dining rooms, sunny patios and lounge bar nestled along the zebra crossing between Sunnyside and Throckmorton avenues for lunch and weekend brunch.
Executive Chef Brandon Breazeale (Bodega Bay Lodge in Sonoma County, 31st Union in San Mateo) and Sous Chef Kevin Cornwell run the Bay Area menu.
“Farm to fork requires a special skill set, creativity and patience,” says Pacotti. “We have made a great team.
This includes a network of partners like Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. for a deli board and in salads that blend in fresh components such as Bartlett pear, pickled fennel, Bay Blue cheese. and toasted hazelnuts and another with roasted Chioggia beets, mini kale, Laura Chenel goat cheese, crispy quinoa and Marshall’s Farm natural honey vinaigrette. Starters also include raw or baked oysters; panzanella with duck confit, arugula and sweet potato; and a seasonally inspired soup of the day.
Six of the nine starters are meat based. Rancho Llano Seco pork loin is served over fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, bacon and bacon, cipollini onions with a pear mostarda; a duck breast in a herb crust accompanied by a squash farrotto and duck raisins with rosemary; and the Paseo burger is topped with tomato jam, caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles and gem lettuce on a seed bun glazed with aioli with optional additions such as Fiscalini cheddar and smoked bacon with apple wood.
Plump California Halibut poached in olive oil is tightly wrapped in rainbow chard over mashed scallions, candied fennel and chicken mushrooms; the local rock fish is in sauce with saffron tomato smoke; and the vegetable cassoulet contains cannellini beans, cauliflower and turnips.
Desserts such as the peanut and milk mascarpone crisp, white and dark chocolate pie are homemade.
The range of elaborate cocktails includes combinations such as BarSol Quebranta Pisco washed with coconut, passion fruit, lime and hibiscus; Charbay green tea vodka, Gravenstein apple shrub, elderflower soda and garden herbs; and No. 209 Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, ginger, honey, white pepper and fennel pollen. The selected wine list showcases Californian winemakers and the craft beers are also native to the region.
For brunch, poached Eggs Benedict are stacked with bacon and spinach on a buttermilk cookie with herb hollandaise; huevos rancheros has homemade chorizo, veggie refried beans and cilantro cream; and the brioche French toast is accompanied by spicy pears, sweet cream and maple syrup.
“Our first weekend was great and we are touched by the influx of support we have received from the community,” said Pacotti. The Paseo legacy continues.
Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Starting December 15, the restaurant is open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for weekend brunch at 17 Throckmorton Ave. in Mill Valley. Find more details and reserve a table at paseobistro.com or call 415-888-3907.
Creekside Bakery in Novato has a long list of sweet and savory Christmas treats, such as Yule Log, Grand Marnier cranberry cheesecake, ginger spice cake topped with Meyer lemon cream, holly-shaped princess cake, an assortment of pies and Christmas wreaths for breakfast. , hand-decorated cookies, breads (rolls, stollen, panettone, teacakes) and quiches. Order early for the best selection at creeksidebakery.com or call 415-892-7655. Pick up between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on December 24 at 1719 Grant Ave. The bakery is closed from December 25 to 28.
The chopped pie filled with dried fruits and spices, part of the traditional British Christmas party dating back to medieval times, is ready to be ordered by British and transplanted Mill Valley bakery, Sophia Burton of Great British Bakes . These are available until January or while supplies last at the Marin Thursday Farmers’ Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael. You will also find honey and spelled cakes, swirls of raspberry jam and organic shortbread, ginger and spice cakes, fruit and nut flapjacks and meringues.
Find out what’s coming up this week and place special orders at greatbritishbakes.com.
Slice of Sausalito
Fancy a pie? Keep in mind Slice of Sausalito, the under-the-radar source of homemade pies inside eclectic home furnishings store, Karl the Store. Owner Katherine Green makes spicy apple cranberries with a decorative crown crust, Dutch apples, heirloom blueberries, old-fashioned pecans, classic pumpkins, organic puppet berries, chicken pie and a royal cheesecake using recipes passed down from his mother in the Mid-West.
Small 5 inch deep pies are available daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the store while supplies last, or place special orders for small or full pies (preferably two days in advance) on sliceofsausalito .com for a pickup at 1201 Passerelle from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
Leanne Battelle is a freelance food writer and food columnist. Email her to [email protected] with news and recommendations and follow her on Instagram @therealdealmarin for more on local cuisine and updates on the launch of The Restaurant Guide The Real Deal Marin.