Less than six months after opening, Comfort Market in Arroyo Grande is getting lots of attention from diners and restaurant writers alike. A writer from the San Jose Mercury News recently paid a visit to Comfort and Ember and sang the praises of both.
Late one very warm October afternoon, I visited owner Kari Ziegler at the end of a long drive, looking for comfort — literally — from the heat of the road. She plied me with ice water, handed me the menu and suggested something cool and refreshing: The Morro Bay Tuna Niçoise Salad. It was marvelous, with fresh everything, from the bread to the tuna to the eggs to the generous slices of red onion.
Ziegler welcomes the praise and adoration from diners, because in addition to having a hand in everything from shopping to prepping, she photographs soups and sandwiches to promote Comfort via social media.
And it’s working: Regulars watch Twitter and Facebook to learn the daily soup specials. Ziegler likens it to being stalked — but in a good way.
Ziegler, who owned the now-closed Gather Wine Bar further down Branch Street, has long had a bead on the community’s appetite for good food. If she and her staff make it, hungry people will come and eat it.
Ziegler relies on fresh, quality ingredients to turn out treasures such as the Taylor Ham & Cheddar, “a New Jersey classic,” with pork, cheddar cheese and a fried egg served on a brioche bun, or the Turkey Mango Stilton: Roast turkey breast with melted ginger-mago Stilton cheese and mozzarella, finished with local spinach and mayo on wheat.
Seriously, I’m drooling as I write.
Ziegler understands that running an eatery is rewarding — and exhausting. The restaurant business incorporates cranky customers for whom nothing is right, but also faithful fans who hang on your every entrée and talk you up like nobody’s business.
Ziegler and her executive chef, Jaime "Jimmy" Mendoza, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, have teamed to offer a series of cooking classes that recently launched, appropriately, with a how-to on homemade soup.
As of this morning, only a few tickets remain for the next class, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30. Visit Comfort Markets, or https://www.facebook.com/comfortmkt for more information.
Details: Comfort Market is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (although the doors close when the food sells out, which happens). Located at 116 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande; comfortmarkets.com
In addition to on-site dining, Comfort offers custom picnic baskets, catering and a selection of pastas, sauces and more.
Copyright Central Coast Wine Press