The New Oyster Loft at Pismo Beach Pier Opens Soon!
By Kathy Marcks Hardesty
Friday, March 25, 2016
There’s a fabulous new restaurant in Pismo Beach, my friends, and it will open to the public officially in just over a week from today! During the month of March they held three short weeks of soft openings for “family, friends, and VIPs.” I counted Dan and myself fortunate to get in on it for two nights.
In this short review, I’ll show you food shots and some descriptions. But I plan to write a more thorough review after they officially open on April 4th.
Dining in the main restaurant will only be done only by reservation, according to GM Thomas Loots. But if you can find a seat at the oyster bar or main bar, you can order from the oyster bar menu.
I’m sure things will change as they always do at new restaurants, and he explained that the limited menu they were offering would grow once they opened to the public. I don’t think it’s necessary to expand, but we’ll see how that works out.
Our first meal was very good, and our server was excellent, However, the service was pretty slow. We didn’t mind too much, we were totally enjoying ourselves.
Our entree’s were very good, my only complaint being that I thought the broth in the cioppino was too rich, and needed more acidity. Afterward I thought about the fact I could have asked for some lemon, duh, but it was still good if atypical of what you expect from this classic dish.
My cioppino featured a generous piece of sea bass with two prawns, two mussels, and two clams. I favored the sauce more when I dunked a piece of the killer, grilled garlic bread in it. But afterward, people were shocked when I told them the dish didn’t have crab in it. It has been a really bad season for West Coast crab, so maybe that’s a good thing.
Dan (Mr. Salmon) loved the Skuna Bay salmon, and I did too. Everything about it was great from the fresh fish to the fresh broccoli and fingerling potatoes.
During our visit the next night, the salmon dish was different but every bit as good.
When I tried to get reservations for the last week of March, I found every day was already booked except the next day–so we went back on Tuesday. And I have to tell you, it was even better the second day despite long waits. You see, as the GM Thomas Loots told me, everyone came in at 6 p.m. The soft opening reservations didn’t allow for asking for an exact time, and on this day everyone showed up early. It was a good thing they didn’t give out reservations for all of the available seats!
This visit we ordered the Biddle Ranch Pinot Grigio, $12 a glass (I was told Compass Health owns this brand, too), which was a perfect choice for all of the great seafood dishes we ordered. I can’t recommend it highly enough even though it was pricier than the Fossil Point Pinot Noir. We started with the hamachi ceviche, which was nothing like I expected. But once I tasted it, I was all over it. Fantastic!
Here’s what I found online about the chef’s previous experience, since I didn’t know him, at Steamers of Pismo:
Originally from San Luis Obispo County, Chef Jared Hurst moved to the Bay Area in 2003 to pursue culinary credentials. He graduated in 2004 from Le Cordon Bleu (I think they’re referring to what was formerly San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy where chefs like Brian Collins, Jacob Town, and I attended cooking school but not at the same time). While in the Bay Area Jared was the executive sushi chef four years at Red Door sushi. He returned to the Central Coast and became a sushi chef at Saki 2 (now defunct) in Arroyo Grande. Hurst joined Steamers of Pismo in early 2012 as the pastry chef. He was promoted at the end of 2012 to the position of Executive Chef. Now I understand why Hurst has a great touch with Asian techniques.
That amazing octopus in orange-gastrique with crispy garlic chips, Fresno red peppers, blistered grape tomatoes, micro-greens, and charred shishito peppers, $14, was unique!
I’ll tell you who’s behind the Oyster Loft and several other good beachfront eateries. It’s owned by Compass Health (whom I was told is owned by a majority of three entrepreneurs with minority partners). I’m so glad they appreciate good food, and offering an entertaining dining experience. They also own Custom House in Avila Beach, Ventana Grill and Alex’s BBQ (still under construction) in Shell Beach, and (rumor has it but don’t hold me to it) they are currently in negotiations to buy Steamers of Pismo. I’m hoping they’ll remodel it like they did Ventana Grill, where they turned an ugly duckling joint into a swan-like fine dining room.