El Paseo in Mill Valley. Any comments?
Tyler Florence opened up El Paseo, a sleek chop house, in Mill Valley. I had a very disappointing experience. We were a party of 4. After waiting a good, long, 30 minutes after our first course, my veal chop which I ordered a solid "medium" came blood rare! I immediately sent it back. The waiter came over and asked "was there a problem?" And I told him to just cancel my order and told him why. A few minutes later, the manager came over with the cooked again veal chop and I sent him away. By this time I had lost my appetite. My son in law gave me a bite of his steak which was good, my daughter gave me a bite of her pork chop which was dry and fatty and nothing special. The restaurant offered no apology, didn't so much as offer a free desert. I was looking forward to a special dinner. It was not. Can any of you hounds share your experience at El Paseo??
My daughter and I had a late (9:15pm) dinner at El Paseo last night and our overall experience was really good. The spaces, and their are about a half dozen different areas to the resto, are lovely and well designed but not at all stuffy.
We'd been to a cook-out earlier, so we weren't ravenous and a big piece of meat did not appeal, so we had two apps each. My daughter had the corn soup, poured at table, with a bit of lobster meat and stock I think, with a few fresh cherry tomatoes which added a nice bit of acid to the mix. It was very good. She followed up with the pork belly appetizer. The piece of belly, she complained, was almost all fat with an off-putting mushy texture. Tho' the flavor of the overall dish was good, it did not reach her pork belly standards and she left most of it on the plate.
My very ample bibb lettuce salad was generally excellent, nicely dressed with perfectly ripe avocado wedges, a few radish slices and a couple of other garnishes which I don't remember but added a very touch. The green goddess dressing was terrific except it was a little salty. I followed up with a crab cake appetizer: two smallish cakes with a nice crispy exterior and a moist all crab interior with a fresh corn garnish. I almost never order crab cakes on the west coast anymore and while these did not measure up to the succulent lump blue crab cakes back east, they are easily among the best I've had in California.
In between our courses the chef sent out two complimentary app sized portions of their beet ravioli, the pasta was gossamer thin and stuffed with nicely seasoned beet tops, surrounded by roasted red and yellow beet wedges, napped in a light and lucious beure blanc. Delicious.
We shared a bottle of very good sauvignon blanc, can't remember the name but it was only $28 and well worth the price, it was very good.
Service was friendly and professional. The only thing that marred the experience were the two probably more than a little drunken oafs at the two top next to ours. At one point, one of them crashed his bread plate to the floor and "jokingly" and loudly asked it we did it?! He then, again, loudly, offered to pay for the plate we supposedly broke. Sigh.
I loved meeting Preston Clark, the chef not least because I knew his late father, the ground breaking chef, Patrick Clark when he headed the kitchen at the Hay Adams hotel, across the park from the White House in Wash. DC. Clark pere was a grand guy and a great chef and it looks like Clark fils is following in his footsteps.
Long time lurker joining up to write a review of this, as I think the poster may have had a singular experience that is not typical of the restaurant. We went there on Friday night and thought it was a good addition to the (admittedly pretty dismal) Mill Valley food scene. The first thing to say is they've done a lovely job with a terrific space. There is also a very attractive outside terrace with heat lamps.
We started with a quite wonderful bibb lettuce salad with avocado, grapefruit, nasturtium leaves, radish and green goddess dressing and a pea soup with a poached quail's egg and ham hock that looked amazing but was let down by the somewhat indifferent quality of the soup.
For our main course I had the aforementioned veal chop (which came medium rare as ordered) which was good but not amazing. My wife had the filet mignon with bacon, shallot and truffle butter, which was very good indeed (and I say that as someone not normally a fan of filet mignon) and again perfectly medium rare. We had some disappointing duck fat potatoes (grated like a finely shredded hash brown and baked) and some good creamed spinach to go with it. Service was good if a little slow. We got a good, reasonably priced, wine recommendation from our waiter. And for beer drinkers the saison dupont at $7 a bottle is a veritable bargain by restaurant standards.
It is not worth a special trip across the bridge, but if you live in Southern Marin or have another reason to be in Mill Valley its definitely a good option based on the food/ambience combination. It's not a really special occasion dinner place, but its also pretty reasonably priced compared to a lot of steak places.
El Paseo House of Chops
17 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941