Still on my patio tour, I had to visit New Vintage Grill because someone on social media said the misting system on their patio was so great during our hot summer weather that it felt like the temperature was 20 to 30 degrees cooler. That’s like a dip in the pool without the annoying wet hair. As the governor had closed indoor dining, we were still on a search for the best patio options and this is one of them.

Frankly it starts with the giant fan on the north side of the patio right near the TV. Yes, there are misters cranking out minute particles of moisture but this turbo-fan is sending air all over the place, strongly I might add. With staff and customers coming in with masks, it made us feel like we were getting a completely safe dining experience. My companion noted that a man going to the restroom even put his mask back on while walking away from his table.

The only thing is the menu was paper inside a plastic case and that was a potential contamination risk — no cool smartphone QR code system here — but that seemed the only risk. And I should mention the fan added some noise on the patio but not too much, so conversations were possible even though we were seated quite close to it.

The food, as always, was remarkable with the rare exception that I’m here to point out. My companion ordered the caprese avocado salad ($14.59) and I went for the pastrami sandwich ($13.95), resisting those pizzas or the burgers (patties made from “hand-packed ground chuck” as the menu says) that I’ve loved in the past.

New Vintage, owned by Jed and Melissa Larson, still does a lot of things well (those breakfast potatoes made with white cheddar, garlic, spinach and red quinoa are a revelation). And big salads are a star here, served in a large metal bowl with, for the most part, quality ingredients that are thoughtfully assembled. My companion could not believe the quality of the avocado on her salad, or the fresh mozzarella balls, the sheer generosity of the grilled chicken and the balsamic glaze drizzled over the whole thing that she felt made a dressing unnecessary. She was not impressed, and neither was I, by the quality of the tomatoes, which are kind of the star of your average caprese salad and deserved to be better.

We did differ on the dressing served with it, a roasted garlic balsamic dressing. I consider roasted garlic to be right up there with extra virgin olive oil and butter as a perfect food that makes almost anything better. She thought the glaze itself was more subtle and wasn’t wowed by this dressing. I think this house-made dressing would work with almost any salad, and I took the unused portion home to use on my own creations later.

The only problem with my pastrami sandwich was the inadvertent omission by the kitchen of the stone-ground mustard. The menu told me that mustard and mayo would be included so I asked my waitress to skip the mayo — I’m sure all pastrami lovers understand why — but they left the mustard off too, which was regrettable because everything else was so good. The pastrami was hot, looked from its texture like it had been flash-grilled, the cheese was pepper jack, there were crispy onion straws and the bun was a caramelized onion baguette. And I do need to mention the pepperoncini spread throughout. With the battered fries, it was quite the satisfying dinner.

Right now, the restaurant has a skeleton crew on board, but service did not suffer. Delivery is available through Postmates and I did notice a lot of customers coming in to get takeout. There’s special parking right near the door for takeout pickup. The dining room looks sad and lonely with tables and chairs stacked up in the corner, but the patio had almost every table occupied on our weeknight visit, though I do think there was some social distancing going on because the tables are spaced far enough apart.

What we’ve enjoyed on other visits: the New Vintage omelet (artichoke hearts, goat cheese, bacon), the guac and roll burrito (potatoes, cheddar, scrambled eggs, choice of meat and, of course, guacamole), “Kiss my Hass” (a veggie egg sandwich with smashed avocado and sun-dried tomato pesto among other ingredients), the chili, the French dip and Pop’s pizza (double pepperoni, garlic and jalapeño slices).

New Vintage Grill can be recommended for a fine dining experience.

Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears in The Californian on Sundays. Email him at pftittl@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: @pftittl.

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(1) comment

CHitchens

Pete ordering the pastrami was something different, sincerely appreciate that. I will for sure ordering that from them to give it a try. It has to be stated, Chicken Salad again. Sigh.

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