In the past, just about every meal on the road was orchestrated based on articles in publications like Gourmet and The New York Times. Recently, I’ve relied less on print and more on advice from locals, and that’s led to plenty of rewarding experiences that wouldn’t have been possible with the inflexible method. On my recent trip up the California coast, a Pasolivo cashier recommended Farmstand 46, a market/cafe on the outskirts of Paso Robles from Villa Creek executive chef Tom Fundaro and longtime sous chef Jed Lachance.
Farmstand 46 is a joint venture with Four Vines Winery and is patterned after Northern California wine country establishments like Oakville Grocery and Jimtown Store, but with a uniquely Paso product and vibe. Farmstand 46’s website describes the partnership as “a synergistic business that showcases sustainable and organic agriculture.” That means on-site herb and vegetable beds, fresh-butchered animals and the Four Vines tasting room in back of the corrugated metal “barn.”
Lachance oversees daily operations at Farmstand 46. He grew up in Hawaii and worked in L.A. before his wife was ready to live closer to her hometown of Cayucos. He signed on at Villa Creek, for Fundaro. Three months ago, they opened Farmstand 46 in a former bakery.
The floor leaves little doubt about the mission statement, sporting words like “Organic” and featuring quotes from food legends like Julia Child. Their motto is “Gourmet, healthy food made from organic, estate-grown vegetables and herbs. Farmstand 46 promotes and supports local, organic, sustainable farming.”
The deli case features seasonal salads, pasta salads and sandwiches like The Goat, a baguette loaded with slow cooked pork shoulder, pickled red onions and melted Fontina. Shelves and bins are stocked with local fruits and vegetables, and the fridge holds market-fresh soups and premium milk from Straus Family Creamery.
Lachance cooks whole sheep and pigs in the oven at 500-725 degrees.
Even though Farmstand 46 featured a number of enticing options, we just finished a large lunch at Artisan and were on our way to dinner at Big Sur Bakery, so we limited our consumption to a single pizza.
Lachance was also firing Cheese pizzas with oven-roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, spinach, marinara, Parmesan and chopped herbs.
The misshapen, cracker-like crust probably could have used more tomato sauce and less Parmesan, but the chef’s rustic approach had its charms.
They also make their own charcuterie using the aforementioned animals.
The market even offers a daily “drop a pot” special designed to feed local families. Just drop off a pot before 2 PM and they’ll fill it with family-style dinners between 5:30 PM and 7 PM. At the counter near the entrance, which doubles as the Waterin’ Hole coffee bar, you’ll find the daily pot listings; Spaghetti and Meatballs on Mondays; Fried Chicken on Tuesdays; Chicken Pot Pie on Wednesdays; Brisket on Thursdays and Lasagna on Fridays.
Farmstand 46 has only been open for three months, but the premise (and oven) show promise.