Steppin’ Out – Crystal Basin Bistro (Revisited)

CBBLogo-01A couple of weeks ago I received a call from an old acquaintance and fellow actor, Mick Bruha. He was back in town from an extended stay in Australia and was now the Hospitality Manager for Crystal Basin Bistro, an outstanding restaurant at 3590 Carson Road, Suite B, in Camino.

Mick told me that they had made a number of changes to their menu and hours, and invited me to bring Russ Salazar and come by and see what was new. So, a couple of weeks ago we did just that.

I arrived first and spent some time letting Mick fill me in on changes they have made since I last wrote about them, over a year ago. The first thing he mentioned is that they are now serving dinner seven days a week, with a new menu, quickly adding, “And you can also order from the regular menu at dinner.

“Three times a year,” Mick continued, “our ‘Bada Boom Bistro Club’ gathers here for a meal and tests out the new dishes,” adding, “The Havana,’ our Cubano sandwich was their overall favorite last time. You have to try that.”

As he was pointing out several other new shareable plates ($8.99) on the regular menu, Russ arrived and told us that in addition to the new dishes we were going to try, we had to re-sample their BLAT, which is bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato, nicely dressed, in a wrap. Both he and I loved that last time and, no matter how he tried, he couldn’t duplicate it at home.

Along with Russ’ BLAT, we chose The Havana, The Bankok and The Saigon to sample, grabbed some eating utensils and a glass of water and found a table where we could sit and talk while our food was being prepared (you take care of yourself at lunch, dinner has table service).

The first dish to arrive was The Saigon, which consisted of pork and spinach Asian dumplings in an Asian garlic and chili sauce. Like all of the dishes we tried, it was well presented and deliciously appetizing.

Before I go much further I should tell you about Chef Lisa Scott’s sauces and dressings. I don’t know how she does it, but they are all winners. She has the knack to excite dishes with them to make them taste even more wonderful.

Back to The Saigon, the Asian dumplings were tender and delicious. The sauce? Well, Russ got up and went to get a spoon so he could make sure to get every last bit of it before I did. It complimented the dumplings and by its self was outstanding.

Our next dish was The Havana, their “Cubano” sandwich made with carnitas and ham and little dill pickles (cornichons), served on a ciabatta roll. It was designed by Chef Lisa’s other Sous Chef, Joe Spady.

Chef Lisa told me they are very popular in New York and Joe, who was a chef in New York, said to her, “We have the ingredients, lets make them.” So they did.

We could both see why this one is so popular. It tastes great and when you bite into the dillness of one of the pickles, it refreshes your palate for the next delicious bite.

Then came the BLAT. It was as fantastic as we remembered it, and brought a big smile to Russ’ face. The bacon, the crispy romaine, the tomato and avocado, all held together in a basil flavored wrap, made for a refreshing treat.

Finally The Saigon arrived at our table. It consists of a dish of spicy ginger pork, boat shaped crisp lettuce leaves and Lisa’s Asian sauce. You scoop the meat into the leaves, add some sauce and make several delicious wraps. I told Russ that the sauce was very similar to the sauce that came with the Asian dumplings. He looked at me and said, “If you’ve got a winner, why change it?”

Some of the additional dishes on the menu of shareable plates include: The Washington, D.C., unique and delicious stuffed mushroom caps (we enjoyed those last time); The Lucca, artichoke Mozzarella raviolis in a lemon-cream sauce; The Macau, Thai shrimp curry on rice; The Lisbon, artichoke jalapeno empendadas with cilantro dipping sauce; The P’vlle, broasted beef brisket on Texas toast with Gorgonzola crumbles; The Tijuana, carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa (another of the house favorites), and many more.

The new $13.95 sit down dinner is served starting a 5 p.m. daily. It’s menu includes: The Livingston, chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy; The Turin, chicken scallopini over pasta de jour and The London, shrimp scampi over pasta de jour.

Chef Lisa asked me to pass on that they also have daily specials, salads, vegetarian and gluten free menu items, and will work with you if you have dietary issues.

If you are going wine tasting, just traveling by or on your way home, for a special treat stop by and pick up shareable plates to-go. At the same time you can also select from quite a number of cheeses, hot sauces, chocolates and not only wines from their own Crystal Basin Cellars, but from other members of the Carson Road Wineries group.
Crystal Basin Bistro is open daily from 11 a.m. with dinner from 5 until closing (last dinner seating at 8 p.m).

No corkage fee for Carson Road Wines on Thursdays and live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is also a wine tasting bar in the bistro.

They have inside and patio seating and in conjunction with their winery, concerts, events and special dinners.

For more information call (530) 303-3749 or visit their webpage at, where you will find their menu and information on events and happenings.

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