Posts Tagged ‘crab’

Elevated food at Santa Barbara’s El Encanto

El Encanto tableI imagine The Dining Room and Terrace at El Encanto hotel — high up on a hill overlooking the city of Santa Barbara — is a lovely place to enjoy an expertly crafted meal. The hotel, which opened in March and is the first West Coast location for Orient-Express Hotels, offers what look like spectacular views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. I wouldn’t really know because I haven’t actually been there. But I have had Chef Patrice Martineau’s nicely executed and delicious food.

Martineau and the El Encanto team recently hosted a tasting in Los Angeles (now that’s what I call service), and it was so impressive that I now have a trip to Santa Barbara on my list so I can enjoy one of Martineau’s meals in its native environment. We tasted some of the regular menu dishes, as well as some special bites, including some aged cheddar made from the milk of El Encanto’s own Holstein cow, Ellie.

We started off with a crab salad, which was served alongside cranberry gelée, chilled ginger verbena hollandaise sauce and a raspberry vinegar glaze. The sweet crab meat was tempered with the tartness and acid in its accompaniments, creating a perfect balance.

Crab salad

Crab salad

Next up was the slow-baked organic Scottish salmon in a yuzukosho crust served with baby vegetables and glazed gnocchi in a smoked bonito orange broth. The yuzukosho, a fermented Japanese seasoning made from chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt, gave the salmon an interesting Asian twist complemented by the bonito broth.

Scottish salmon

Scottish salmon

We also had Martineau’s braised short ribs, which are braised in white wine instead of the more common red wine, which lightened the flavor of the meat up — a nice touch, given the heaviness of short ribs. Roasted fennel, crushed celery root, basil, tomatoes and roasted tombolina carrots rounded out the dish.

Braised short rib

Braised short rib

Ellie’s Silver Mountain aged cheddar, served with fresh figs and cream of balsamic vinegar on a bed of edible wheatgrass, was a tasty was for us to get ready for the sweeter desserts, which included chocolate truffles and little almond berry tea cakes. But the main event was the Manjari Chocolate “Florentine,” a classic chocolate mousse topped with almond and hazelnut nougatine. While the dessert wasn’t really a florentine, it contained the flavors of the classic Italian dessert (I guess that’s why its name has quotation marks in it), and with the chocolate mousse made for a rich ending to a lovely meal.

Ellie's Silver Mountain cheese

Ellie’s Silver Mountain cheese

Tea cakes and truffles

Tea cakes and truffles

Manjari Chocolate "Florentine"

Manjari Chocolate “Florentine”

Note: The meal was hosted.

18

11 2013

Vegan crab? That and more new dishes at the Veggie Grill

B-Wing Salad at Veggie Grill

B-Wing Salad at Veggie Grill. Photo by Brian Goodman.

Growing vegan restaurant chain Veggie Grill continues to surprise me. The first time I ate there, I was skeptical of its food because I’m not a big fan of faux meats, but Veggie Grill’s menu manages to please crunchy granola vegans without alienating meat eaters. Now the restaurant has added tasty new items to its menu, including hearty dinner plates and a crab cake sandwich — yes, seafood!

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09

04 2012

Where California cuisine meets Southern comfort: L.A. Market

L.A. Market, Chef Kerry Simon’s restaurant at the JW Marriott hotel at L.A. Live, is now being helmed by Chef de Cuisine Nona Sivley of Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” fame. The restaurant’s menu reflects Sivley’s Southern roots with a California flair, ending up with mixed results. There were some dishes here that I loved, but there were also some that missed its mark.

What I loved:

This gnocchi and lump crab appetizer was unique and absolutely delicious. The gnocchi was pillowy, and the addition of kumquat and micro basil was a pleasant surprise and nicely complemented the truffle parmesan cream sauce.

Gnocchi

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12

04 2011

Holy crap, that’s a long line: L.A. Street Food Fest

This past weekend will go down in L.A. food history as The Weekend That Was The Clusterf*ck Known As The L.A. Street Food Fest. Don’t get me wrong — I thought it was a great idea, and I enjoyed myself while I was there. But as is the case with so many first-time events, there were problems, though I guess things could have been worse.

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16

02 2010

Old school glamour, food and drink: The Tar Pit

Gin Gin Mule

Gin Gin Mule

The Tar Pit, the much-anticipated new bar and restaurant from chef Mark Peel and general manager Jay Perrin, both of Campanile fame, and noted mixologist Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York, made its debut late last week, and what a debut it was. From the 1940s art moderne decor (the simpler version of art deco) to the era-appropriate food and drink, The Tar Pit is a nice respite from the dark, often cramped, speakeasy style that has been popular among bars lately.

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22

12 2009