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Thursday, April 21, 2011 

Julienne gets a visit from S. Irene Virbila, LA Times Food Critic

and she likes what she tastes.
...Where to eat, though, has always been the question. For a long time, the answer was La Super-Rica. Or possibly the Wine Cask. Then Hollywood's Hungry Cat arrived in Santa Barbara. My list used to end pretty much there. Now it also includes Julienne, a sweet little restaurant on a quiet block just off State Street.

I was smitten the moment the platter of house-made charcuterie came out. This was a serious effort. Everything on the plate with the exception of prosciutto was made in-house. That meant a coarse-textured, country-style pork and liver pâté with a golden raisin compote, a slab of their own mortadella embellished with pistachios, even the
saucisson sec and a Tuscan-style finocchiona salami. They actually make much more — including lamb lardo, trotter terrine and potted foie gras served in a little glass jar topped with blackberry gelée — but serve only five or six selections at any given time.

Served with bread and sharp grainy mustard, the charcuterie plate is a wonderful and welcoming way to start a meal at this little jewel of a place. And it's a natural, as chef-owner Justin West and his crew break down whole animals and try to find a use for every bit. That's also why I spotted braised pig tongue for the first time ever on a menu, more delicate than beef tongue, delicious with cream of wheat and shaved fennel.

The name is scrawled across the window, inviting guests into the plainly decorated dining room. Service is deft and unobtrusive, with a personal touch from Emma. The menu showcases fine seasonal ingredients, local for the most part. Add simple delicious desserts and a savvy wine list for a very personal restaurant where everything comes together. Sometimes a dish doesn't live up to its potential, but not often.

They give a shout-out to BD's Farm in a salad of bright-tasting lettuce leaves cloaked in a creamy Gorgonzola dressing. Instead of the usual frisee au lardons salad, they've made one of the curly greens with silky roasted shiitake mushrooms, ribbons of bright red pepper and nuggets of crisp bacon. Hand-diced tuna tartare features a quail egg yolk, smoked paprika and the lilt of preserved lemon.

The progressive American bistro also turns out some excellent pasta. I loved the subtlety of house-made fettuccine with ochre chanterelles, green garlic and shallots in a light chanterelle cream sauce. On the heartier side, double-wide noodles come with braised wild boar shoulder and shaved Brussels sprouts in the braising juices.
- LATimes

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