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Holy chateau! 

BY MAEVA CONSIDINE

Basque in the glory of some great new, local grub. Alphy's restaurant group's fourth foodie facility has opened in Shell Beach and now it's ready to throw out the lunch specials and happy hour deals.

Chef Doug Simpson is at the helm of Alphy's new Basque Chateau on Shell Beach Road, and he couldn't be happier to help supply the community with a culinary component that's been missing in San Luis Obispo.

"I've believed for years that there was a need for a Basque restaurant here on the Central Coast," Simpson said. "The Alphy's formula of great service and great food from the freshest ingredients at reasonable prices has served us well for the past seven years at our other locations."

So it seemed only logical to try that winning formula on a cuisine not often seen in small towns on this side of the ocean. Basque food is many things if not exciting and delicious. The staff at the Basque Chateau did a great deal of research on the culture and traditions of the dishes.

"Basque cuisine has so many influences--French and Spanish, mountain and coastal--that the variety of foods and styles should appeal to almost anyone," he said. "We have been sure to accommodate those with vegetarian preferences, too."

The Basque Country includes the area in and around the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between France and Spain. It also includes some stunning coastal line areas, from Biarritz and the Bay of Biscay in France to the Mediterranean in Spain, so seafood is as much a part of Basque traditions as lamb and beef.

On top of the unique food, the Basque language is also quite special, being related to no known European language, and it may have developed from the first Stone Age migrants to the area, according to some experts.

The Basque Chateau keeps to its cultural roots and serves up its grub familia style. All entrees come with fresh bread, Basque soup, salad, beans and Spanish salsa, pickled marinated beef tongue, fresh vegetables, potatoes, and pasta with house-made Spanish sauce. Meals also include a scoop of Doc Burnstein's Alphy's blend vanilla bean ice cream or Basque red wine sorbet.

So what does a Basque entrée look like? They range from lamb (roasted rack of lamb, grilled lamb chops, braised lamb shanks), to steak (filet mignon, ribeye), roasted chicken, 16-ounce French-cut pork chop, shrimp in three varieties (scampi, skewered, and spicy garlic), scallops Provencal, and seasonally fresh fish.

Lunch specials start at $11.95 and are available from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. The specials include soup, salad, bread, salsa, beans, pasta, and potatoes in addition to an entree.

Happy hour in the restaurant lounge features special drink prices and chef's choice complimentary food. Happy hours are 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Calendar Editor Maeva Considine compiled this week's Bites, and it was delicious. We want a Bite! Send us your food, wine, and related news at bites@newtimesslo.com.
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