As soon as we walked into Six Test Kitchen in Paso Robles‘ Tin City, we could sense the love and respect that Executive Chef and Owner Ricky Odbert, and his team has for food. The minimalist decor and lighting immediately focused our attention on the food itself, and the books that were displayed were the cookbooks that guide Odbert’s techniques and inspires his creations. All twelve guests were also seated around the enormous prep station in the center of the restaurant so we cold watch in awe and wonder at what might come out of his kitchen next.
Six Test Kitchen is a fine dining restaurant with a modern twist. Executive Chef and Owner Ricky Odbert and his team deliver a 14-course tasting menu that is “seasonal, intentional, and cognitive”, with many of the ingredients sourced through local farmers markets and prepared with the most modern techniques.
We went to Six Test Kitchen in July, which meant their menu was focused on summer elements at the time of our visit. At the time, those elements included:
- Chicken Liver
- Lemon Verbena
We do not eat chicken so did not eat the Chicken Liver, but did get to experience all of the other summer flavors on the menu.
First Course: Onion Chicharrones with Sour Cream
The first course of the night was Onion Chicharrones with Sour Cream. The chicharrones were made from tapioca dusted with onion, and still managed to maintain that incredible light fluffy crunch you expect from chicharrones made from pork. The Sour Cream was smoked, which was so unexpected and added an incredible depth and flavor to an ingredient we’re all familiar with.
Second Course: Smoked Salmon with Dill
The second course was Smoked Salmon with Dill. The salmon came prepared in a small crunchy wrap with a sprig of dill on top, which you ate in one bite. Even though it was a single bite, all the ingredients packed so much flavor and was a nice transition from the chicharrones in the first course.
Third course: Grilled Peach, Mole, Queso Fresco
The third course of the menu was Grilled Peach, Mole, and Queso Fresco. The dish was presented in a small bowl surrounded by typical dry ingredients for mole, which enhanced the fragrance of the mole without making the flavor overpowering so you could still taste the peach. It was a fun dish to eat and beautiful to see on the plate.
Fourth Course: Summer Squash, Basil, Anchovy, Sourdough
For the fourth course we were treated to fresh squash from that day’s local farmers market. The squash was covered in a sourdough breadcrumb with anchovy, and had a parmesan sauce and basil sauce to dip the bites into. The sauces were equally delicious on their own, but truly best when mixed together with squash and anchovy.
Fifth Course: Charred Pepper, Smoked Grapefruit, Lemon Balm
The fifth course of the tasting menu was like nothing we have ever eaten before. The bottom of the dish was a charred pepper panna cotta, which was then topped with smoked grapefruit that was cold and almost had the texture of shaved ice. On top of all of that were bites of lemon with flavor that exploded in your mouth and brought the dish to a whole new level.
Sixth Course: Tomato, Cucumber, Lemon Verbena
The sixth course looked like a simple elegant salad of tomato and cucumber, but brought such a surprising texture and intensity of flavor to the meal. The tomatoes were peeled, which immediately gave them a surprising texture but also made the flavor explode in your mouth. The cucumbers were carefully cut into hollow shapes that caught all the flavor of the lemon verbena, and sometimes a small tomato too.
Seventh Course: Whipped Feta, Plum, Green Strawberry
The seventh course brought together cheese and fruit, two of our favorite foods. The surprise in this course though were the green pickled strawberries, which neither of us had tried before. They paired perfectly with the whipped feta, and the entire dish was just the right balance of salty and sweet to keep us coming back for more.
Eighth Course: Salmon, Sweet Corn, Shishito Pepper
We lived in Seattle for almost a decade and have eaten our fair share of salmon. That being said, this has to be the best salmon we have ever had. The salmon for this course was prepared over coals, which allowed the skin to get nice and crispy without overcooking the fish. It truly was perfection on a plate and the showstopper of our night.
Ninth Course: Dry Aged New York, Eggplant, Scallion, Bordelaise
We knew by this point in the menu that whatever food was put in front of us was going to be delicious, which held true for the Dry Aged New York steak. What we continued to be surprised by were the textures and flavors we didn’t expect to find, like the eggplant in this course. It didn’t even look like eggplant when the plate was presented to us, and was so delicious we ate it anyway!
Tenth Course: Cantaloupe, Preserved Lemon
The presentation of the cantaloupe is what really blew us away in this course. The cantaloupe was perfectly cut so you had a small tab of rind to hold on to while biting the fruit, and the preserved lemon on top was the best compliment to the sweetness of the dish while cleansing our palates for the next course.
Eleventh Course: Cherry, Hazelnut, Lavender
The eleventh course began our journey into the dessert portion of the menu. We were treated to lavender ice cream that we got to watch the chefs make with liquid nitrogen, which was paired with half-spheres of hazelnut cake. One of the spheres was soaked in cherry making for the most decadent dessert.
Twelfth Course: Caramelized Goat’s Milk, Apricot, Earl Grey
The chef’s at Six Test Kitchen pulled out all of their tricks for this course on the menu. The caramelized goat’s milk was the creamiest, most delicious “ice cream” we’ve ever had, and we were blown away at the bites of earl gray with jellied apricot in the center.
Thirteenth & Fourteenth Course: Black Olive, Nasturtium, Caramel and Candy Cap
The thirteenth and fourteenth courses were served together at the end of the night, and included a black olive caramel and mushroom candy cap that were amazing, especially for ingredients you don’t often associate with dessert. You could actually taste the black olive in the caramel and the mushroom in the candy cap, but they each brought such a depth to the flavor of the dish and worked to cut and compliment the sweetness. It was the perfect way to end our meal at Six Test Kitchen, and left us thrilled with the experience.
Six Test Kitchen has a sommelier on staff that has curated a wine list to perfectly compliment the flavors and seasonal elements of the menu. Guests can choose to add a wine pairing to their dining experience, or select a bottle (or glass) to have with their meal. For this meal our co-founder started with the 2016 Adelsheim Chardonnay, and finished with the 2017 Field Recordings Hock.
This menu was presented in July 2019 and featured summer elements.
If you also visit in summer, specific elements of each course may be different based on the availability of local ingredients. The overarching seasonal elements will remain the same though, and will be present throughout the menu.
Visit Six Test Kitchen’s website to learn more about which seasonal elements will guide your meal.
Reservations & Tickets
Reservations are required to dine at Six Test Kitchen.
There are two nightly seatings: one at 5:30 p.m. and the other at 6:15 p.m. for a total of 12 seats.
Reservations are made through https://www.exploretock.com/sixtestkitchen, and requires payment for tickets in advance.
At the time of reservation you can indicate any dietary restrictions, or if you are visiting because of a special event, like a birthday or anniversary.
We highly recommend reviewing Six Test Kitchen’s website for the seasonal elements they’ll use to craft the menu at the time of your reservation so you can note any dietary restrictions.