The white tablecloth was set and the silverware was shiny in the minimalist but homey dining room of Ammo Restaurant, where seasonality and farm-fresh produce are interpreted with an Italian cuisine lens. For her August 30 dinner, chef-owner Amy Sweeney paired excellent produce from the organic Windrose Farm in Paso Robles with Tablas Creek Vineyard’s Southern-Rhone Style wines. I wasn’t prepared for the rather abrupt interruption of dinner service toward the end of the meal, but I was lucky enough to receive most of the 4 courses.
I ordered a Pimm’s Cup to start, layered with Pimm’s No. 1, ginger beer, lemon, and a long wedge of Japanese cucumber.
My meal started out with a refreshing, velvety smooth tomato puree with a dab of crème fraiche and strips of chiffonaded mint leaves. It was a cool, creamy start.
The first course was a salad of yellow and green squash, gingerly sliced into paper thin sheets, dressed with bitter parsley and then bound by a lemon vinaigrette. I loved the superb texture of the top-notch squash, nutty and sweet while retaining a youthful crunch.
The squash salad was paired with a Tablas Creek Rose, tinted a light garnet red and perfumed with gentle fruit without requisite sweetness. The salad was meant to pair with the Tablas Creek Cotes De Tablas Blanc, a blend of mainly Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. The wine arrived shortly after the Rose. The floral aromas of the Viongier shined particularly well.
The second course was no doubt a standard at Ammo: fresh pappardelle in hand-cut basil pesto. Though the salty flavor tended to dominate, I loved the hearty and robust strength of the pasta, perfectly al dente and cut into long sheets about an inch wide. It was paired with a Tablas Creek Esprit De Beaucastel Blanc, a blend containing Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and hint of Picpoul that was a tint less golden than the Cote De Tablas and a bit more balanced with structure, holding back an overt sweet finish of the previous white wine.
For the main course, I chose the roasted pork shoulder with sprightly green beans, baby potatoes and caramelized apple. Some pieces of the Niman Ranch pork were tough, but others were luscious and tender. Either way, the sweet apple-flavored glaze amplified the flavor. Starchy young potatoes balanced out the sweet glaze, with certain wedges having crispy browned edges. The green beans might have been my favorite preparation in a long time, having a sweet, toothsome texture. I didn’t receive a glass of Esprit De Beaucastel, a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and Counoise, though I venture it would’ve paired perfectly with the pork and splendidly cooked produce.
Dessert was pending when I heard a quick burst and blast from the kitchen, then a showering of water at a rapid rate. Most diners didn’t seem to notice, but I had a straight shot of the kitchen from my seat. I was as worried as the servers who covered their mouths in utter confusion. Within ten minutes, water started to flood the dining room and an inch of water quickly covered the concrete floor. Distressed diners quickly evacuated while I stayed as long as I could, still waiting for the peach cobbler.
It looked like I wasn’t going to get my last course. Waiting outside for the fire department to close up the burst sprinkler and expertly sweep water out of the dining room, I saw a disgruntled Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel walk over to the valet. They’d been dining on the patio, though I’m not sure how far they had gotten through the meal. Thankfully, the first three courses left me more than satisfied in their beautiful presentation of Windrose’s produce and Tablas Creek’s wines. I do hope that Chef Sweeney and Ammo will redo this dinner in the near future.