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Elegant, yet casual 

Welcome to Adelina’s Bistro

During one of several visits to the new Adelina’s Bistro, I had an unusual experience when I dined there with Rhonda O’Dell, with whom I’ve worked at New Times for 12 years (she’s been there from the paper’s start). We drove over early one Wednesday evening and found it packed with a friendly crowd sipping wine or cocktails and noshing on tasty-looking appetizers. It’s the one day of the week when Adelina’s offers happy hour (4 to 6 p.m., with a special menu). It attracts quite a crowd of residents who live in homes built by Trilogy Central Coast that surround this terrific new eatery. We ended up sitting on a couch beside one of the four grand fireplaces where we ordered appetizers and wine in a situation not much different than dining at the hot new Native in SLO.

I was pleased at seeing a half bottle of the delicious Willakenzie 2006 Pinot Gris from Oregon on the well-chosen wine list. We ordered it to enjoy with the spring green salad, which changes daily according to what’s

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fresh in the markets. It was a generous and pleasing combination of sliced apples, red endive, candied pistachios, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, and agave-apple cider vinaigrette ($7). Next we ordered one of the pizzas: the cilantro-marinated jumbo shrimp with tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, and roasted red pepper and tomato sauce ($11). This order took much longer to come from the kitchen and we could see the staff was a bit overwhelmed. But you know how it is when you’re really hungry: Your patience is as thin as a paper napkin.

I was excited when I saw the charismatic restaurant manager Jack Von Schlichting strolling toward us, our pizza held high. When he set down the Portobello mushroom and eggplant pizza, I pointed out: “Oops, wrong order, that’s not our pizza.” He replied: “We ran out of shrimp, so the kitchen made you this one.” Rhonda and I laughed and enjoyed it, but we admitted that we really would’ve preferred to choose another pizza (all priced $11) without eggplant.

This story tells why I don’t usually dine at any eatery, expensive or inexpensive, that has just opened. It takes any place a while to get things running smoothly. That’s true even when you have an experienced chef in the kitchen, like Pandee Pearson, who had asked me not to come over and judge the place too soon. I understood, but I was excited about experiencing Adelina’s, and I’ve always respected Pearson’s talent in the kitchen.

Pearson’s menu is all about procuring the freshest ingredients available, which she explained when I first toured the Monarch Club that’s home to Adelina’s with her and Von Schlichting.

“This place is all about real food from the market that’s fresh and well chosen,” she noted, “served in simple preparations with a lot of flavor.”

During four visits to check out Adelina’s, I always found that statement true of her food.

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It’s no wonder patrons of Windows on the Water in Morro Bay were disappointed when Pearson left after five years as executive chef (although I’ve read two excellent reviews about their new chef Neil Smith, Pearson’s original sous chef who won “Best North Coast Restaurant” in New Times’ Best of SLO issue). Few businesses other than those in the restaurant industry can lose the source of their inspiration, namely the chef, so quickly. (Winemakers are the runners-up.) I’ve been disappointed many times after discovering a talented chef at a new restaurant only to find that he or she didn’t stick around long. In worst-case scenarios, they’ve left SLO County entirely, but that’s rare now. Most just move to another city within the county. And that’s just what happened with Pearson, who found this fabulous new home for her cuisine in Nipomo. She told me during a phone call late last year that Adelina’s is the type of restaurant she’d create if she opened her own place.

Adelina’s Bistro & Market Place, located in the Monarch Club at Trilogy Central Coast alongside Hwy. 1 in Nipomo, appears a fine but private country club. And the club offers amenities reserved for the homeowners, including the pool with cabanas and waterfall, fitness studio, and stadium-style tennis courts. Tennis instruction is available for non-members.

“We created a lifestyle that’s like living in paradise. There are two elements: One is private, the other is very public,” explained Jens Kliemann, the resort director for the Monarch Club.

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They’re still in the process of building a “wine library,” and there’s an art studio that can be rented for private parties.

The public, however, is quite welcome to visit and enjoy the seasonal menu of Pearson’s soulful cuisine at Adelina’s Bistro & Market Place, the Sandalwood Spa with massage and relaxation, and Monarch Dunes Golf Course. Two outdoor patios offer al fresco dining overlooking the resort-like property that will become quite popular come the warm-weather season. Adelina’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

My last experience, just a week ago, proved to me that this restaurant keeps getting better. Most people who’ve been there told me that the Monarch Club looks like the lobby of a resort hotel, and they’re right. But sitting in one of the comfortable curved booths with high backs, I completely forgot the background and enjoyed the main show: the dining.

The wine list is more reasonably priced than most restaurants in the fine dining category and offers an excellent selection of Central Coast wines. I appreciated the sectioned, wittily named categories—like “the half bottle selection so you don’t ‘half’ to share,” “ravin’ about reds,” “all things Rhone-ish,” and “other whites you want to know”—plus bubblies, sakes, liquid desserts, and wine flights. During the last visit with my husband Dan, we found one of our favorite wines, Longoria 2005 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard ($55), and it beautifully complemented our entire meal.

We ordered spring salad which hadn’t changed yet but was still quite enjoyable. I liked the Caesar salad, whole-leaf-style, with a vinaigrette-like dressing topped with delicate white anchovies ($8). My cioppino was generously filled with halibut, mussels, clams, and prawns in a wonderful roasted-tomato broth with grilled crostini ($24). Dan had the albacore tuna, seared rare tataki style, with an irresistible Thai purple sticky rice, gingered spinach, and green coconut curry with pineapple-mango salsa ($23). We left no bite behind.

We’ve only tried dessert once and enjoyed a daily special of a trio of freshly made ice creams that included chocolate chip made with an intense, delicious dark chocolate, coffee-caramel, and vanilla bean. I look forward to trying breakfast, when they offer an array of freshly baked pastries and a wonderful selection of entrées. I figure that if the spring menu is this tasty, I can’t wait to see what Pearson’s cooking up at the height of the summer season.

INFOBOX:  Beautiful bistro

Adelina’s Bistro and Market Place is located at 1645 Trilogy Parkway in Nipomo. For more information, call 343-7530.

You can reach New Times’ Cuisine columnist at



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