Shawn’s on Main in Morro Bay, California is the type of restaurant that ought to be the pride of every neighborhood or town. The food is excellent without giving in to overweening pretension. The atmosphere is intimate with just the right level of cross between formality and comfort.
The guy with his name on the door is the guy behind the stove and his pride appears on every plate of food going through the pass.
Every meal at Shawn’s starts with an amuse bouche. On this night it was spoons of bits of asparagus and feta cheese nestled over a chipotle aioli we would get to know better in the next dish. It was a perfect preview of a meal at Shawn’s: comfortable with enough surprise in the ingredient combinations to intrigue.
If Shawn’s is known for one dish it is the Grilled Castroville Artichoke with Chipotle Aioli. Surely Shawn is not the first to grill an artichoke but few have done it better. Steamed just short of doneness followed by a kiss of the grill pan and these artichokes offered both the fiery sweetness of the grill and that which is inherent in the vegetable.
For her main course Nancy ordered the Shepherd’s Pie of Braised Beef and Vegetables with Potato Gratinee. It is just the sort of dish that a neighborhood restaurant such as Shawn’s ought to shine at: comfort food elevated just a bit. The depth of the braised beef was what did the trick here.
Gwennie and I could not resist the Potato Gnocchi, Mushrooms, Tomato and Gorgonzola Cream. I find it hard to resist Gnocchi on any menu, but the ingredients here just whispered balance. Richness and airiness do not inherently seem to go together, but they did here. With an ingredient as strong as Gorgonzola in there it was actually the mushrooms that tied the dish together. The dish did not disappoint.
I am not usually a dessert kind of guy – frankly, both Nancy and I usually choose to spend our calories elsewhere – but the bread pudding dessert was both beautiful and special. And it was delicious.
If Shawn’s were in San Diego – or if we could once again spend more time in Morro Bay – we’d probably be there every week. It is just the kind of neighborhood restaurant that I wish I had in my neighborhood. If you happen to be in Shawn’s neighborhood, drop in.
- Shawn’s on Main
- 912 Main Street
- Morro Bay, CA 93442
— Michael A. Gardiner