Featuring McPhee’s Grill in Templeton

McPhee’s Grill is the perfect choice for our April edition of entrée! Ian McPhee and his team are celebrating their 25th Anniversary of serving locals and visitors to the Central Coast at the iconic restaurant in Templeton…and we couldn’t wait to join in the celebration!

Ian, a self-taught chef, opened McPhee’s Grill in 1994 after managing, owning, and cooking at restaurants along the Central Coast including the former Ian’s in Cambria. Commenting on the longevity of McPhee’s, he said, “I just love being here, creating food, being with these people; this is my thing. That’s the key; because it’s not work, it’s a lifestyle.”

We asked Jessica Main, Templeton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, to spend time with us and she was thrilled… apparently, McPhee’s is her favorite restaurant. Truly, anyone who has dined at McPhee’s…and if you haven’t, get on over there right now…appreciates the restaurant motto, “dedicated to great food and great service.”

After being seated at a lovely table overlooking Main Street, we indulged in an amazing lunch with friends!

Appetizers

Our attentive server, Dian, delivered a basket of breads ready to be dipped in olive oil and red wine vinegar, a plate of fresh olives, the RU Nuts Pizza, and a platter of Chicken Shitake Mushroom Lettuce Tacos. Like many of the menu offerings, these two choices are perfect as appetizers to share before the main course or as an individual meal.

Meagan’s Favorite: R U Nuts Pizza – pistachio pesto, basil, Italian sausage from Alle-Pia in Atascadero, mozzarella, pecorino. “Jessica and I are gluten-free diners, so it was wonderful to enjoy this pizza with a special-order crust. The four-cheese blend, including fresh mozzarella and pecorino, delivers a pop of flavor. And the sauce? Amazing! The unique pistachio pesto with basil, garlic, olive oil, pistachios, and lemon zest is unique and simply fantastic.”

Entrees

We sampled the Macadamia Crusted Salmon, Baby Back Ribs, Jambalaya Pasta, and Grilled Swordfish Tostada. All were delicious, and the large portion sizes had us asking for to-go boxes!

Nic’s Favorite: Macadamia Crusted Salmon – fresh salmon served with a ginger sesame vinaigrette, spicy cucumbers, and Asian slaw (cilantro, onions, two cabbages).

“I love this; it’s light, crispy outside with a perfect topping of fresh ginger. The salmon itself, well buttery soft is about as literal and descriptive as it gets.

The ginger sesame vinaigrette provides additional flavor and sauce if you need it, but honestly for me, I can go all day with it naked as served. Delicious.”

Jessica’s Favorite: Baby Back Ribs – grass-fed pork, house-made sauce, cooked in the oven and finished on oak pit barbeque. “This is my favorite dish on the menu. The barbecue sauce is the perfect amount of sweet and savory to compliment the juicy, fall-off-the-bone baby back pork rib meat. Ian serves these two ways: with the Ku Fu Asian Rib sauce on the appetizer menu, and on the lunch and dinner menu with his signature barbecue sauce, perfectly cooked crispy shoestring fries and seasonal veggies.”

Meagan’s Favorite: Grilled Swordfish Tostada – fresh swordfish, mango, chipotle & avocado salsas, citrus slaw, black beans & rice.
“I love the presentation of this dish, so fun and unique. And the flavors? It’s like a kaleidoscope of sweet, spicy, mild – this dish has it all. The fish was tender and perfectly seasoned and grilled. The slaw with the lemon cumin vinaigrette really packs a punch. The rice, with bits of pistachio nuts and golden raisins, is the ideal companion. I will definitely order this again.”

Dessert

We ended our lunch with a special treat – Ian’s new, house-made Salted Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream. Yum! “We are making all of our own ice creams now,” he said, “and when you taste the creaminess, well, those other ice creams don’t stand a chance. It’s so delicious; it’s pure love!” That’s an understatement – it was everyone’s favorite!

Ian sources from many local vendors and families, and he was doing farm-to-table long before it was all the buzz. The lunch and dinner menus are filled with favorites – try the oak-grilled burgers, salads, barbecued pork sandwich, 2-bone pork chop – and there are daily specials.

Ian said, “Everything on this menu, and every wine on my wine list, is something I would want to eat or drink. Period.”

“I just love what I do; I’m a lucky person,” Ian said. “I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I still love coming to this restaurant, getting in the kitchen, and being part of this wonderful adventure.”

Our special thanks to the entire team at McPhee’s Grill. Congratulations on 25 years of dedication to great food and great service.

Here’s to 25 more!