Paul Martin’s

Are you missing us yet?  We have been having so much fun that we are behind on our write ups.  But now that 2017 is upon us we would like to catch up and get back to it.  First on deck is the meal we enjoyed on Christmas Eve’s Eve in the lovely new Rock Rose area of the Domain.  We chose Paul Martin’s on a friend’s recommendation and they did not disappoint.As a vegan, I truly appreciate a restaurant who indicates vegan on their menu.  While Paul Martin’s has few (two for dinner) vegan options, they are very clear.  This is what I noticed immediately upon being seated.  Now a little secret that we also learned from our friend.  Paul Martin’s is on Open Table which also puts them high in regard as I hate waiting.  Anyways back to the meal.  Our waiter arrived and gave us food and drink menus.  When he returned to get my drink order, I asked for a Pinot Noir suggestion and he shooed me away from the Willamette variety I know and love.  He instead suggested a California style, less expensive, and promised me I would love it.  He was right!  I know this isn’t a wine tasting blog but this girl does love her wines and it goes to show the level of service here.img_0305We ordered and since we were extra hungry the Carnivore requested an appetizer.  The only one we could share was the Castroville Artichoke which the waiter assured me was only non-vegan due to the dipping sauce (aioli) and that if I avoided it would be fine.  It arrived shortly and we dug in.  Now you must understand how to eat an artichoke if you wish to order this.  You take a leaf (dip if you can/want) and scrape off the tiny bit of vegetable at the bottom with your teeth.  Our waiter shared that someone once came and ate the whole thing!  Holy fiber overload batman!  It tasted fresh and yet smoky but ultimately it is kind of a pain to eat with little reward.  That said, since the New Year is here, if you wish to lose any holiday weight, this is probably the equivalent to eating celery – negative calories when you factor in the effort to eat it.

For my main meal I ordered the Warm Quinoa Bowl.  Now if you read our blog, you know that the carnivore calls this kwin-o-a!  I never tire of this joke.  Also you might realize by now that I am not a salad girl.  If a place only offers me a salad, I am unlikely to give high praise; however, this was not a salad but a warm bowl.  It did still have a lot of nutritious elements such as the nutty quinoa, creamy avocado, delicious roasted cauliflower, crisp snow peas and amazingly tender sautéed spinach.  All of this was topped with a tangy blistered tomato relish which seasoned and finished the bowl beautifully.  I ate the entire thing!

img_0304This meal was a solid three rutabagas.  One of my favorite parts is that Paul Martin’s makes everything in house and it certainly tastes it.  Also it is a lovely dining experience overall.  To get a higher score it would be wonderful to add more vegan options in the future.  Also it would nice if the wait staff was more knowledgeable about vegans as that makes us feel more welcome.  Our waiter was nice but self-proclaimed lacking in knowledge other than the specifics of the menu.  That said, I know my carnivore and I will return for another delicious experience.

Happy New Year to our loyal readers!  As 2016 came to a close and Christmas rapidly approached, the vegan and I ventured out to The Domain for a nice holiday meal on the 23rd of December.  We had heard wonderful things about a relatively new establishment called PAUL MARTIN’s AUSTIN GRILL, and were keen to put it to the test of vegans and carnivores dining in harmony.  The proprietors – Brian Bennet and Paul Fleming – are on a mission to “make the food America loves set to a higher standard—always without hormones or antibiotics”.    This mission falls right in line with my vegan cohort’s passion for the humane treatment of animals and the fresher more wholesome foods that are tough to find set upon the tables of the average restaurant.  So Kellie was especially anxious to review this one.  As for me, I heard the food was great, and they have a quality bourbon selection, so I was down for the critique as well.

Since it was a Friday night, we made a reservation with Open Table and arrived promptly at the chosen time.  We were seated without delay, and a gregarious server named Mo greeted us quickly and warmly.  He inquired of our drink selection and made a quality recommendation for the vegan’s Pinot Noir.   The bourbon selection did prove to be better than average, and I enjoyed a quality pour.

As I have explained in previous posts, I often inquire of the server’s recommendation at new restaurants.  I asked Mo for the most popular dish on the menu and he answered without hesitation that the “Brick” Chicken was undoubtedly the best choice.  I was glad to hear this because it was exactly what my friends had told me to order.  Score one for consistency!   The entrée is free-range chicken, mashed potatoes, za’tar croutons, herb jus.   While I prefer beef over fowl, I opted to give it a shot and hoped that the decision was a good one.  It proved to be a quality selection and, though I have no idea what a za’tar crouton is, the flavors complemented each other exceptionally well.   Over all the meal was delicious and I would recommend any chicken lover to order this dish.  That said, my next trip to Paul Martins will be to try the Braised Short Ribs.  I mean, a humanely treated cow has got to taste better than most, right?  A happy cow is a tasty cow, I’d bet.

Now for the real meat and potatoes of the experience – the ability for carnivores and meat eaters to dine in harmony.  I’m disappointed to say that, while Paul Martins does a great job for the meat eaters, the options for plant killers are lacking.  I think there was only one option on the menu that fit a vegan’s unique needs.  I understand that the vegans are few, relative to the rest of us, but two or three options doesn’t seem too unreasonable.  Another point of contention for me has to do with our server’s lack of knowledge of the dietary limitations encountered by vegans.  I get that not everyone has a reason to know exactly what a vegan’s food limitations are, but to not understand the most rudimentary facts – no dairy, meat, eggs, fish, etc –  about what represents a vegan food choice seems the least that a server at a quality restaurant should know.  If nothing else, it is a learning opportunity for the staff to become better informed about the varied guests that frequent their restaurant(s).  I think the servers would welcome this knowledge, in an attempt to ensure that EVERY guest has the best dining experience possible.  Their gratuity does depend on it, after all.

Paul Martins Austin Grill scores a respectable three cow faces from this meat loving carnivore.  If the vegan options and/or staff knowledge were greater, the rating would quickly reach four.


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