234 South Main Street / Sebastopol / 707-824-9922
Hours: D only
Tue – Thu 5pm – 9pm
Fri – Sat 5pm – 9:30pm
Specialty: New England Clam Chowder
Full Bar – Happy Hour Tue-Sat 4:30pm-6:30pm
** May’12 $$-$$$
I had been wanting to try this 11-year old restaurant in Sebastopol for some time. The restaurant is owned and operated by a local couple, Gene and Tess Ostopowicz; hence the name, GTO’s.
This is a smallish restaurant and since our visit was close to 8:30pm on a Tuesday evening we decided to eat at the bar. You can learn a lot about a place seated at the bar talking to the bartender or, sometimes it’s the owner. In this case, it was the owner, Gene.
It always makes me wonder why restaurants do not take the time to train staff that the most important thing they can do when new or old customers come in is to greet them. Even if you are busy, tired or both, recognize someone and let them know you know they are there. Gene must have forgotten this as he left came back then left his station behind the bar again. We sat there for nearly 15 minutes which, seemed like an eternity without a drink before anyone said a word to us. Not a good start. Finally, Gene came back and asked for our drink order.
Drinks in hand we turned our focus to the menu. Hubby was hungry so he wanted a dinner-size meal while I was more interested in sampling several starters hoping to get a good sampling of their food. First up for me, Clam Chowder – New England Style ($8 ****) served nice and hot with lots and lots of fresh clams. Seasoned with thyme this was a very good rendition. Next, Four Prawn Cocktail ($8 **) boiled prawns served with GTO’s famous cocktail sauce. Served in a traditional Martini glass, the prawns were too small to look appropriate for the stemware. I would suggest upgrading to jumbo prawns or, serve the smaller ones on a plate. Cocktail sauce was good. Next, Fried Calamari ($11 *) with Chipotle lime dipping sauce. Not to be picky but, the dish was over-fried and the fish came out on the tough side. They also tasted like the breading had cornmeal in it? Last for me, Fresh Dungeness Crab Cakes ($13 **) with lemon thyme aioli sauce. Again the cakes were over-fried and this time, very dark in color–almost burnt leaving little of the delicate flavor. Hubby’s order was Fish & Chips ($14 **) battered cod, house-made tartar sauce, with choice of regular french fries or garlic fries. This was an okay example of the dish; nothing special or exciting.
Over-all I would say there is a tired atmosphere at GTO’s and a genuine lack of interest. A kind of “it’s good enough” feeling. Too bad. It could be so much more.