Saturday, May 24, 2014

El Encanto for Lunch

The recently renovated El Encanto Hotel holds much history and charm as well as remarkable views. Their terrace restaurant is a lovely place to have a fancy lunch. And after lunch, make sure to walk around the grounds and admire all the architectural details and landscaping.
You know it's fancy when they serve two kinds of butter. European and pepper sage infused. A bit over the top and unnecessary in my opinion.
I went there on two occasions and the first time I enjoyed their BLT. Pretty straight forward sandwich, with ample bacon.
The passion of the chef, I believe, lies in the true courses, not in the sandwiches and salads. During our second visit, I chose the roasted Jidori chicken breast with market vegetables and brown butter mashed potatoes was glorious. The sauce, the vegetables, the butter and sage, all had layers of flavors that required many steps and time to achieve. As you can see, I dove right into it before taking a photo.
My mother had the Seared Ahi Tuna salad with ginger soy vinaigrette. Which she enjoyed, but didn't find special by any means.
Though I normally do not order dessert, I had a bit of a hankering for crème brûlée. It was delectable. The photo makes it look like a deep bowl of brûlée, but the custard was really thin and the sugar crust perfectly breakable. A compressed apple pile on top as well as milk ice cream. The white chocolate stick on top was over kill. Great expressos too.

Perhaps the service is excessive with people checking in all the time to make sure you are okay and there are even little "seats" for your purse, but overall it's a fun experience and if you stick to real dishes, you'll feel like you ate something special.

El Encanto
800 Alvarado Pl, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 845-5800

Monday, May 19, 2014

Olio Crudo Bar

The Olio empire in Santa Barbara does not disappoint. Their newest addition to their fine dining restaurant and their pizzeria is the Olio Crudo Bar. Beautiful shades of amber fill the small space. Though quite pricey, the food is excellent. Olio treats ingredients with respect and sticks to simplicity.

Instead of bread, you receive these very light toasts which go perfectly with their sashimi and raw dishes as well as their cooked ones.
The Polipo, seen above, was delectable. The octopus was the perfect consistency. None of that super chewy, not-so-fresh seafood here. Placed on new potatoes, thinly sliced aside a frisée lettuce pile lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon. Lightly sprinkled with spicy Controne pepper, each bite was a delight.
The Hamachi (Yellowtail) carpaccio was also very fresh as anything raw should be. Lightly dressed in a soy-ginger sauce.
A true classic, Vitello Tonato is a true test of Italian cooking. The tuna sauce was light and creamy and the veal ever so thinly sliced. Together - yum.
Pictured above is their Creamy Burrata mozzarella, American paddlefish caviar, crumbled egg, red onion, and chives. I have never had a flavor combination like this before. Who knew caviar and mozzarella married so well! A wonderful surprise and one I highly recommend.

If you are willing to spend a little more and you are not starving, Olio Crudo Bar is a gourmet goody. They have a full bar with twists on classic cocktails.

Olio Crudo Bar
11 West Victoria Street
Open daily from 5:00pm