Piñon has a pleasant approach, a suitable parking area, and a relaxing patio. After ordering our meals, my guest and I decided to sit outside on the patio which had a natural canvas of overhanging ivy that shaded us, and pups, from the blazing sun. Every once in a while Piñon employees would check up on us, but mostly left us to enjoy the surroundings and each other’s company.
You wouldn’t know it; the new owners have not skipped a beat in what Piñon has to offer. The sandwiches have great girth to them, desserts and salads looked equally appetizing, and everything in Piñon‘s cases looked fresh. When I inquired more into the scones, desserts, salads and sandwiches I was told that they are made daily.
The man behind the counter was incredibly helpful in making sure our quest for a good meal was met. He was playful, knowledgeable, and gave us wonderful customer service with a genuine smile tattooed to his face. He certainly seemed to believe in the quality of the food he was offering. This went a long way for me, because when I see employees who are that dedicated to what they are doing, I feel that it speaks volumes about the restaurant through and through. However, I did wish he would have pointed out the “other” dessert bars and brownies that were in the cold case, as opposed to only the fancy fruit tart, key lime pie, and cakes.
I got the Piñon vegetarian sandwich, because it is one of their best-selling sandwiches. It had stacked itself with tasty ingredients: grilled veggies, tomatoes, and greens. The focaccia bread gave the sandwich a great balance between the veggies and robust flavor of the balsamic vinegar. However, I do think the veggies could have been sliced thinner. In addition, I would have preferred that the green lettuce would have been replaced with either spinach or arugula, as those greens are heartier and they would take on the generous drizzle of balsamic and oil from the veggies a bit better.
My guest ordered the bacon avocado sandwich – two ingredients that she is rather fond of – and informed me that it was nice and fresh and that the bacon was of high quality. Score. One could say that it didn’t have an entire pig or the whole fruit harvest, so it was well designed. Touchdown! Still, after some consideration she noted that this sandwich is, ”what I would expect in this kind of establishment. It looked like I expected it to look, except the bread I ordered had been swapped out for focaccia.” Fumble. Any restaurant could make this sandwich. In fact, many do. So what is so special about Piñon‘s bacon avocado sandwich? Not much. What could the new owners do to make it stand out a bit better? Piñon could enhance the sandwich by liberating the flavor and treating the palate a bit more: “The sandwich was lacking in sauce – there was some, but not enough to balance the avocado and bacon. Felt a little dry.”
We were on to dessert. I ordered the key lime pie, which was perfect. I loved the whipped cream topping as opposed to a traditional meringue one typically sees. I loved the walnut pieces in the crust especially. Crust for key lime pie always seems to stump many restaurants: either it has a graham cracker crust that crumbles or a crust that is so hard that one could use it as a frisbee. Piñon nailed this dessert. Way to go!
As for the fruit tart that my guest selected, it looked nice, but it wasn’t as fresh tasting as one would think. To be honest, my guest reported that “the strawberries were a little sad, not very flavorful [and that] something indefinable was missing: perhaps a dash of some spice that could highlight the fruit and offset the sweetness.”
Above all, the sandwiches and salads are gourmet, which didn’t match their drink selection. I was jonesing for a hoity toity beverage, but alas, they offered only a mainstream selection. Perhaps this works with their regular clientele, but I certainly wanted something a little off the beaten path. One idea might be something that I may find at Whole Foods or some chic marketplace in Malibu, California. Still, even with all of my snobby suggestions, if I had to pick between Subway, Jimmy-John’s, and Piñon, com’on people – say it with me…pleeeease – there is no choice. At Piñon you can enjoy a pleasant ambiance, dog friendly outside seating, and a nice meal; all while supporting a local stomping ground!
Rating — I would be willing to return and see how things are looking after the new owners have had some time to make it their own.