It takes aÂ lot to get me to go toÂ Roseville.Â Â It’s notÂ a destination that I seek out, let’s put it that way.Â I don’t have any specific beef with the place per se, butÂ it doesn’tÂ draw me in with any specific gravitational pull.Â That being said, when I was invited to dine at Paul Martin’s American Bistro in Roseville recently, I jumped at the chance.Â I had heard too many good things about the place from friends, acquaintances, and others in the know to turn down the opportunity.Â Â
Many of you will scratch your heads and say, “Roseville?Â Paul who’s?Â Why bother?”Â Of course you’d say that.Â We can’t even get you to go over the J Street bridge, heck, we can’t even get you to leave your couch, why should we expect you get excited about something ten miles up the freeway?Â And that’s just fine.Â The truth is, there are plenty of folksÂ up the roadÂ who recognize Martin’s as the best new restaurant in their neck of the woods.Â They’re excited.Â They’ll leave their couches.Â They’ll put the box ofÂ Bugles down and throw on some khakis.Â Â TheÂ ‘Bistro will not be hurting for business.Â I know you don’t want to hear this, and I apologize for bringing this out into the open, butÂ Paul Martin’s doesn’tÂ need you.Â Â Oh, now I’ve got your attention, now you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, now you’ve got some skin in the game.Â Fair enough, read on.
Paul Martin’s American Bistro is the project of restaurateur Paul Fleming, founder of PF Chang’s, Pei Wei Asian Diner, and Fleming’s Steakhouse–all chains, all uber-successful, all somewhat guilty of marginalizing local cuisine and “dumbing-down” the American palateÂ .Â So, it’s rather strange that the theme of his new restaurant is “EatÂ organic.Â Believe in sustainability.Â BuyÂ local.”Â But it works, and works well.
Like any new restaurant, design and interior can be just as important as the food, andÂ Fleming’s design teamÂ did well to put together a dining room that is neither too “modern” (with all its loaded connotations) nor too plain.Â The space feels like it was designed to please both Bruce Wayne and Pete Seeger–heavy on the wood, light on the industrial features, dark without being gloomy, classic without being retro, classy without being pretentious.
The food, like the surroundings, manages to please, and in some cases amaze,Â by being elegantly simple.Â We started with a dish of clams that happened to be the best dish of clams I’ve ever had in my life.Â Followed that up with a spinach salad, also the best I’ve ever had.Â Mrs. Eats went for a smoked salmon salad which she proclaimed as delicious.Â At this point we were thinking that PM’s could do no wrong.Â Perhaps our expectations were a bit too high then when the entrees arrived.
Not to say that the entrees, pan fried sole and seared ahi, were bad, but they definitely did not get the same jubilant reactions as the previous courses.Â The sole was a bit overwhelmed by its accompanying brown butter sauce, it having no other detectable seasoning to combat the buttery, butter-fried, butter flavor.Â Mrs. Eats’s ahi was tasty, but was also underseasoned and rather plain.Â Thankfully, our impressions were resuscitated by dessert, which wasÂ a criminally indulgent slice of fudgetastic devil’s food cake.Â Served with whipped cream and a huckleberry compote, it certainly ended the evening well.
Like most new restaurants, the service was a little clunky–missing silverware, infrequent water refills, long waits for wine, bread, or other courses–but that will improve as the crew gets more comfortable with their surroundings.Â The wine list is wonderful, with dozens of choices by the glass and a great selection boutique choices by the bottle (try the Quixote Petite Syrah if you get a chance, it’s phenomenal).Â
But what of that whole “Eat local, etc, etc” thing?Â Mrs. Eats mentioned that she really liked the fact that the locavore/organic/sustainable thing wasn’t very “in your face.”Â And she’s dead on. Other than a few small mentions of organic ingredients and a little labeling on the menu, the modern-hippie mission of Paul Martin’s is very subdermal.Â You can taste the local ingredients, you can appreciate the local standard American fare, and you can feel good about what you’re eating without feeling preached to about the state of our planet.Â You can also do it all without breaking the bank.Â Most entrees are in the high teens or low twenties in terms of price, with salads ranging from $6-$12.Â
So does this new venture absolve Paul Fleming from creating the beast that is PF Chang’s?Â Maybe.Â Does it change people’s minds about what eatingÂ locally grownÂ organic fare should be?Â Hopefully.Â Â Do I curse him for putting such a good restaurant up in Roseville, so far from me?Â Every.Â Single.Â Day.
Paul Martin’s American Bistro- 1455 Eureka Rd, Suite 100, Roseville, CA
Food***1/2Â Service*** Atmosphere****