We spent a lovely weekend in Santa Barbara recently. The weather was fantastic, and we got to try a lot of new things recommended by a good friend who used to work in town…I had totally forgotten to check this board for recs.
Woke up early and skipped breakfast for a leisurely drive on PCH starting in Santa Monica. That drive, while a tad long, is just lovely. There are few lovelier drives in California than this. We made it all the way to Oxnard before deciding to stop for a late breakfast/early brunch. In hindsight, we probably should have stopped at Moqueca. We ended up at Fishermen’s Catch (Oxnard) with fish & chips with fresh local sea bass…I’ve never had sea bass for fish and chips before and we both really enjoyed it. Well-cooked and when prepared in this manner, the sea bass becomes meaty and similar to swordfish. It was a nice rendition. I wanted to highlight that there were folks already in line before Fishermen’s Catch opened…they were all in line to pick up fresh rock crab being sold at $2.99 /lb…what a great deal! We gave the kids each cash and they ended up with sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s…go figure. There are plenty of other options in the plaza.
On the pier, we took the kids to the candy shop for some salt water taffy.
We got some ice cream at McConnell’s on State Street. I went all in and had 4 different scoops. I had gotten my walking in at the zoo and did some biking and more walking on the pier…I deserved it. I had pistachio Amaretto, Pineapple Rum Guava, Boysenberry Rose Milk Jam, and Strawberry Rhubarb. I loved them all, but found the pineapple rum guava and strawberry rhubarb the most.
While out and about on State Street, I stopped by Lilac Patisserie. It was slim pickins’ because I showed up half an hour before close. I was able to snag a slice of peach pie (delish) and the last 3 lemon squares…these were magnificent. Set on a super crispy graham cracker crust, the lemon mixture was so good…tart and sweet…like eating sunshine. Note to self, get here earlier next time.
We had a late dinner at The Lark. Didn’t have reservations, so we had a bit of a wait. But the easiest way to offset a wait after a short walk about the neighborhood? Go order a pizza from Lucky Penny if your quoted wait time is more than 30 minutes. The woodfired oven makes a delightful pie. The OG pie has housemade pork & fennel sausage, Calabrian chiles, and smoked mozzarella and is topped with arugula. The crust was the right balance of crisp and chew…and the underskirt had a lovely char.
Back to The Lark. Once we were seated, we got cocktails for us and soft drinks for the kids. They make a Shirley Temple with Luxardo syrup and it looks and tastes more like a Roy Rogers. But the kids enjoyed it. We both rather enjoyed our cocktails and the lime popcorn that comes to the table. Dinner was great as a whole.
Jack Motter’s Early Summer Garden
chiogga beets, snap peas, compressed strawberries, sheep’s milk cheese, coriander pickled carrots, pistachio, lemon-thyme honey, squash blossom
diStefano burrata, chile de arbol, sunchoke chips, shaved bottarga, lemon balm
Southern Pimento Cheese Toast
smoked gouda, aged provolone, trumer beer aioli, pickled chiles, grilled sourdough
Cast Iron Chicken
green peppercorn gastrique, crispy confit fingerling potatoes, California delta asparagus, grilled spring onions, wild rocket arugula, chicken skin cracklin’
Grilled Prime Hanger Steak
charred japanese eggplant, shishito peppers, crispy wild rice, scallion, black garlic butter, thai basil
For dessert the kitchen brought out a Pavlova filled with a super thick lemon custard/curd. It was the best lemon custard/curd we had ever had.
Before we got out of town, we stopped by La Super Rica. We got an assortment of things to share because we weren’t terribly hungry, but the highlights for me were anything with the adobada and/or cheese. The watermelon agua fresca was great, too.
On the way home, we pit-stopped in Oxnard for strawberries. There’s a stand a few minutes to the west of the Victoria Ave exit off the 101. The nice cashier let us sample different sizes and we picked the candy-sweet medium size. A flat was $20…we bought 2 because they were so good!