The Spoon Trade

Brook and Jacob Town, Patrick Bergseid

Comfort food is our first pleasure, representing the memory and flavors of our youth. When we revisit the sensory effect it is more than taste buds and fullness, it’s literally a remembrance of grandma, our childhood, our life. When we become adults and let our palate expand, we try new tastes that are inventive and exciting. The restaurant with a palette and imagination to combine comfort and haute cuisine is miraculous. And it is here now in Grover Beach, The Spoon Trader, a new eatery and a phenomenal culinary find.
Coming home after years in the big city dining game is a gift that Brooke and Jason Town has bestowed on us in the venue of The Spoon Trader. With their partner Patrick Bergseid, they have built a culinary oasis at the end of Grand Avenue.
You immediately feel welcome with the collection of spoons on the wall, the green bandana for napkins and the open kitchen.  Joined by Kathy Lee, the owner of the Cracked Crab, we sat at a special table as this whole ownership group worked at the Crab when it first opened. Chef Jason produced the first bucket of crab, and Brooke was the original one to dump the bucket on to the first table. Brooke told me that the service that evening was dedicated to Mike Lee and we both shared stories and the memories ran down our cheeks.

The Chicken Liver Mousse came out first, served in a ramekin with vinegar aspic that balanced the organ taste. I was transferred into my Nana’s kitchen as I slathered it on the crispy Grover Beach Sourdough bread. Chef Jason and his staff are making everything here including the bread, which is made with a 3 year old started that is also used in the waffles.  Their beer and wine list are as adventurous as the menu and Gary order a Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout; we started with The Sea Monster white blend.

Patrick took us on a tour of the menu and told us they spent a year touring the country looking for comfort food with a twist. Everything is made in house and locally sourced. The service was attentive and speedy without hovering. Gary started with Tart and Tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. This was the genuine item with a fluffy meringue and Meyers lemon base with an old school thin crust. Next we tried the Crispy Sweetbreads that were deep fried with chorizo resting on top of summer green beans and a Dijon sauce. In the middle rested a soft-boiled egg, when mixed together this brought out the preeminent essences. I was speechless and wanted another bowl. My guest reminded me I could have them next time and I moved on basking in this flawlessness of the food at The Spoon Trader. Sharing and rejoicing over every bite, we sampled the Tri Tip Tartare. It is Neiman ranch beef chopped by the chef and topped with a tonnato sauce. It was tender and savory, and served with grilled sourdough bread. Each dish continued to impress and inspire us. Picking the wine first and the main dishes after is one of my favorite indulgences, and Kathy agreed. We moved to a bottle of the 2013 Ranchero wine a Mourvedre and Grenache blend. Decanted to bring out the essences, we admired the boldness of this wine. Gary moved on to the apple crisp, which boasted the right ratio of crispy granola over baked apples accompanied by vanilla ice cream. 

Our main plates appeared and we were enthusiastic to dig in. The Spiced Albacore on white grits with a corn salsa and wilted spinach all soaking in Old Bay butter was stupendous. The fish was cooked to exactness and the girts were a lifeline to the bygone era and delight.  

The Grilled Flat Iron steak was prepared in the sous vide, and finished impeccably. It is sliced slender and obliged with paper thin layers of delicious potato gratin and sliced sweet cherry tomatoes with a bit of basil. But the Fried Chicken & Waffles are the reason I will be dining here every night. Four pieces of buttermilk soaked and fried chicken pieces with the slightest drizzle of honey on top are accompanied by sourdough waffles and spicy kimchee. This was a religious experience. It's not often I push aside albacore for chicken, this dish was that exceptional. It mirrored my all time favorite chicken from Gus’s in Memphis and we all fought to finish it.  This dish is big enough for two people, unless you have a fried chicken problem like I do.
Dessert was a Chocolate Torte; a cake that was so moist inside it was like pudding. Topped with candied pecans and served with jammed market figs all floating on a anglaise sauce. If there is a dessert that seraph's make, this is it. We also had the savory carrot cake with cheese. The carrot cake was not sweet and paired delightfully with the aged goat cheese. This could be an appetizer as well as a dessert. I wanted to applaud after the meal, as I was so viscerally stimulated.
Cheese Burger with Waffle as a Bun

The Spoon Trader is casual dining with a bit of panache; they also have burgers, soups and salads. This is exceptional food for people who love food, didn't know they loved food and the adventurist. They are open every night but Wednesdays from 5:00pm to 10:00pm and are located at 295 Grand Avenue in Grover Beach. You can call them at (805) 904-6773.

Hush Harbor Artisan Bakery and Cafe

When someone lives out their dreams and you can taste the essence of those dreams; that is what we call pure magic. Hush Harbor Artisan Bakery and Café is a vision come true for all of us.  The Monroe family owns, operates and entertains at this fantastic bistro that is headed by Donnie as the lead bakery and originator of this aspiration. Leaving the suit world 13 years ago to find a hearth worthy of his baking dreams, he has carved out a community that is thrilled to daily partake and share his exceptional yeasty creations. Donnie starts each day around 2:30 am with ancient starters pounded and proofed, then baked in a specialty oven lined with bricks from Italy so the bread cooks up, not around.  The result is a product served at all the finest restaurants in the area. 
The staples are French Baguette, Multigrain Wheat, Rustic Italian and Ciabatta, but he adds a Klamato olive loaf and other specialty loafs on Saturdays.  Open for lunch every day but Sunday, Hush Harbor Artisan Bakery and Café offers you a taste of this magnificent bread fresh out of the oven with inspired sandwiches, soups and salads.

I started with the Raspberry Chipotle Chicken salad that was raspberry and chipotle glazed chicken breast served with tomato, onion and cucumber atop a bed of mixed greens, tossed in honey mustard vinaigrette. Chef Ryan Tremble has created an amazing amalgamation of flavors on this delicious salad. The chicken was both sweet and hot, cooled by the greens and tossed dressing.  It was delectable. I pushed on to my favorite sandwich in the world, a Cuban. I seek out this delectable combo of bread and meat, as when it is done correctly will make your taste buds weep with pleasure. This one consisted of a fresh ciabatta roll stacked with premium black forest ham, pork loin slices marinated in a Cuban mojo and cooked to perfection then added swiss cheese, dijon mustard, mayonnaise and sweet pickle chips. It is served hot and would make Ricky Ricardo moan with a remembered taste of his homeland.

My next visit, we were warmly greeted by stunning Morgan, Donnie’s daughter and front of the house director. She suggested I try the specials. Gary began with a tour of the pastry shelve.  Key lime pie that oozed with tart perfection on a soft graham cracker crust and then the pecan browning that was a heavenly chocolate indulgence.  I began with a bowl of the chef’s grandma’s Cheesy Potato Soup, it was a symphony of cubed potatoes and four different kinds of cheese, served with thin slices of the French baguette. The urge to dip over took my politeness.  The Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich was served on the ciabatta bread with a marinated pork loin, pickled Dacron, radishes, carrots and onions and sliced jalapenos. Its spicy, tart, hot combination was outstanding.  That wonderful bread stayed firm on the outside, while absorbing all the juices. Next we tried the Catfish Po’boy served only on Friday’s.  The matriarch of the family hales from New Orleans, so this was a proper Po’boy.  The catfish is flash fried and served with a spicy remoulade sauce. It was flawless and tasted of Louisiana.

Returning on Saturday for breakfast and to get some of the bread straight from the oven, I had Big D’s Benedict.  This luscious split croissant covered with sliced ham, a poached egg, and a house-made hollandaise sauce. The secret to benedicts is the ratios and this was precision personified with a magnificent sauce. Gary tried the French toast and four other items from the pastry shelve including a cinnamon roll, muffin, apricot danish and another key lime pie. The French toast was made with fresh sourdough olive thyme bread served with scrambled eggs laced with bell peppers and onion and a savory sausage.

Located in the heart of Atascadero, Hush Harbor Artisan Bakery and Café has become an important part of the community, bringing love, joy and sustenance to all who enter their doors.  Come and meet the family, and experience the best bread and pastries on the entire coast. The bakery hours are Monday and Tuesday 7 am to 4 pm, Wednesday from 7 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 7 am to 4 pm. Lunch starts daily at 11:00 am. They are open for breakfast on Saturdays only from 7 am to 10:30 am. They are closed on Sunday.  Located at 5735 El Camino Real in Atascadero, you can call them at (805) 460-0541.

Kuma Sushi Rolls and Bowls


Some restaurateurs instinctively know how to create a culinary tapestry of success. From simple burgers that can cure any hangover to an upscale and fantastic sushi bar and ramen noddle empire, the genius behind Kuma Sushi Rolls and Bowls is Brain England. Brian had a sushi bar in 2004, but he has been focusing on Sylvester’s Burgers. For this new venture, he scanned the county and found two of the best sushi chefs that know fish and how to make a dish so pleasing to the eye it is a work of art. Sushi Chef’s Hidehiko Nogi and Jeff (Razor) Fujiwara have been featured in the best fish palaces and now have combined their talents to dazzle the entire patron’s at Kuma.

I revere sushi, it is my culinary utopia. And to have these masters offering an Omakase (special selection offered by the chef) got my palette watering.


A piece of raw fish is remarkably near the nexus where life suffers death so that it can feed another life. It’s where the circle of life stops and starts, the end beginning.

Razor wanted to make sure I received a full sampling of the menu so I let him pick our menu. We started with a sample of the Ramen Noodles, both pork and chicken. The ramen is cooked in house daily with pure pork. They use all the highest grade, fresh ingredients. The Ramen broth is traditional Japanese broth that is reduced for 24 hours in order to achieve maximum flavor. The Shoyu is the staple pork stock with a soy addition served with egg noodles. I had them add all the extras, garlic chip, shoyu egg, nori, sweet corn and spicy kimchi. The chicken was a flavorful comfort food. Razor presented us with colorful dish of Tuna Poke. Raw tuna is cut and shaped like a rose. Pokē is the Hawaiian verb for "to slice or cut". This was served with a mango salsa with a bit of cayenne and macadamia nuts, resting on a seaweed salad. It was a delectable combination of flavors. The next dish the Loco Moco was Hawaiian in its influences with a large mound of white rice, resting under 2 slices of Spam, savory gravy, sliced pineapple and a poached egg. My dining companion had never had Spam before and loved this combination of salty, savory, sweet and comfort dish. I would drive here from Pismo just for this delectable grouping. 

Out came the next offering, a plate of sushi called the Kuma Omakase that was a work of art. On the huge platter were Nigri’s, Scallops on rice with lemon, salmon roe and tobiko. The lemon was carved into a swan and the wasabi snowman was displaced as most dramatic by celery whittled into a tree. There were two fish favors crafted into a rose was Seared Albacore with onions and raw Ahi Tuna. A roll with local fresh out of the bay halibut and the top had avocado, spicy Sriracha sauce, and pomegranate seeds. Each portion of this blew our minds are we devoured this objet d'art.

I brought back my husband the next night and Razor presented him with the Kuma Cake as he sat down. This large and equally beautiful dish consisted of chocolate and vanilla ice cream in between a pound cake that is then deep-fried and covered with chocolate, raspberry syrup and topped with powdered sugar. This trip we dipped into the vast sake supply. Sho Chilly Bai served cold and is a 16th century sake, botanical and smooth it paired well with the Shishito Peppers. This time our Kuma Omakase contained a perfect rose constructed out of Hamachi tuna, seared albacore With polar bear roll that had smoked salmon and cream cheese inside and crab and jalapeno slices on the outside. The accruements were a carved radish and statuesque celery.

At Kuma, the service was outstanding and attentive, the sushi chefs both talented, funny and know fish, the food was as picturesque as it was delicious. I am a devotee. Kuma is located at 2011 10th Street in Los Osos, you can call them at 

(805) 528-6767, 
they are open everyday from 11:00am until 9:00pm.