Santa Barbara’s Foodie Hot Spot – The Lark

IMG_2607Last time we visited Santa Barbara we had a longer list of restaurants to experience, than days. It is becoming a wonderful field-to-table dining destination. One “foodie” spot that we regretted not having time for was The Lark.

Last weekend we had another opportunity to drive up to Santa Barbara for the weekend. We put dinner at The Lark at the top of our activity list.

Located in the thriving Funk Zone and within walking distance from the Santa Barbara train depot, the restaurant is named for the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced Santa Barbara from 1910 -1968.

Architect Clay Aurell of AB Design Studio designed the 130 seat full-service restaurant attached to the Lucky Penny wood-fired pizza restaurant.

We made a 5 p.m. reservation on a Saturday night, because we had a 6:15 p.m. event at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Parking along Anacapa near the various wine tasting rooms, we remarked how lively the street was with residents and visitors shopping in the art and crafts stores, sipping wine and meeting friends and family. It has become a big social hub.

Waiting in line to be seated at on the patio, two parties in front of us asked to be seated at the popular communal table inside. We sat near the kitchen window and peeked in to see if Executive Chef Jason Planks was there creating signature dishes.Originally from Texas he was the Sous Chef at Michael Mina’s RN74 in San Francisco.IMG_2614

The comprehensive wine list highlights small Santa Barbara County producers and artisan winemakers from afar. Wines start from $9 for a Rose’ of Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County to $18 Red Pinot Noir from JCR, Estate. The average price per glass is $12.

A dish of spicy dusted popcorn was delivered to our table. It didn’t “wow” me.

We started our gastronomical experience with a half size cheese board with a delicious Brie, Point Reyes bleu, and Humboldt fog, pear walnut preserve, cranberry mostarda, stone fruit  membrillo and crisp crostini. I asked for some soft bread too. Next, we enjoyed Chef Paluska’s crispy Brussels sprouts doused with fish sauce, chopped dates, sesame seeds, Serrano chilies and a squeeze of lime. Since he is from Texas, he loves enhancing dishes with chilies. It was quite good.

IMG_2617Our least favorite dish was the warm caramelized Asian pears & red kale salad with hazelnuts, Brie cubes and a smattering of Brussel leaves. A few Saint Andre coffee beans were shredded, yet the dressing lacked pizazz.

Feeling pretty satisfied, we ordered just one more dish, the cast iron roasted Arctic Char served with caramelized​ cauliflower, golden raisins, pinenuts, preserved lime, salmon roe, mint pistou. The mint was fresh and clean tasting and I enjoyed it with the moist fish with a crispy skin.

Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. There is complimentary valet parking onsite. In addition, three public parking lots are located within a short walking distance; at the Amtrak train station on State Street at Yanonali, on Helena Avenue between Montecito and Yanonali streets and on Garden Street at Cabrillo Boulevard.

A great time to experience The Lark is on Thursday, April 16 during the Food & Wine Weekend Kickoff Dinner benefiting the Julia IMG_2619Child Foundation. Enjoy a special four-course, family-style dinner featuring local Santa Barbara produce from Ellwood Canyon Farms paired with Figueroa Mountain Brewery beer. The meal will feature guest speakers from both Ellwood Canyon Farms and Figueroa Mountain Brewery. The farmers will provide insights on farming in Santa Barbara and the importance of sourcing locally. The brewers will present Figueroa’s unique beer pairings with each course. 20% of all ticket sales will be donated to The Julia Child Foundation. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. and is $85 per person, + tax + gratuity RSVP via email: MKremzar@TheLarkSB.com

Food: *** Service: *** Cost: $$

131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA  13010

(805)284-0370.

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