Considering that Adam took over 130 pictures of London restaurants we ate at, it was only natural that we start chronicling our thoughts and opinions about the food we eat. We've totally become accidental foodies. It all started out when Sheila started calling Adam "the human trash compactor"; since he eats almost anything. But somewhere along the way we started having discussions about food and seeking out culinary adventures when on travel. We bring a unique perspective to this arena as we're both vegetarians (no meat, poultry, or fish). I suspect we will both have varying opinions on the food, and hope to not only have a record for posterity, but provide some fun, useful if not amateur insight.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pierre Lafond, Modern Californian Cuisine in Old Santa Barbara

Located in the heart of Old Santa Barbara on State Street, Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro is a Modern Californian restaurant and wine bar that serves up inventive dishes with a large list of vegetarian options. The dishes are seasonal and veggies locally grown, something that us Cali folk have come to expect. Sheila and I went there the day after Thanksgiving for dinner and it did not disappoint. We decided early on to opt for two mains and dessert along with a wine pairing thinking this would be enough. It turned out to be way too much food, but that meant we had great leftovers for the next day!

Quinoa and sprouted mung bean salad with roasted corn, kale, grape tomatoes, red onion, and avocado in a lemon vinaigrette - A warm salad which was surprisingly balanced and very tasty. The braised kale and quinoa made this a very hearty dish. The avocado added some butteriness to the dish and helped cut the acidity from the dressing. Sheila felt that the avocado was a bit much, but to each their own. The roasted corn was very good, sweet and plump with just the right amount of charred smokiness. At $18, this was meant to be a main course. We ended up splitting it, but still a bit pricey for a "salad". Although I would order this again, Sheila begged to differ. She felt that the quinoa and mung beans got lost with the bold corn, kale, and avocado flavors.

Pumpkin and root vegetable risotto with curried carrot jus - So we continued the hearty veggie these with this dish. Cooked al dente with a subtle curry flavor, this dish hit the spot on a cold night as it was served piping hot. It goes without saying, but the root vegetables provided a nice earthiness and similar heartiness. The carrot jus cooked with curry spices provided subtle heat and had  a slightly Moroccan bend. The pumpkin, purple cauliflower, potatoes, and squash maintained their flavors as the dish was equally good the next day eaten cold. This also was a main we shared and at $22 it certainly was not inexpensive. In the end, we both agreed that we should have just ordered this one dish to share.

Pumpkin bread pudding with cinnamon ice cream - We asked our waitress for a dessert recommendation and she instinctively said to get the bread pudding that night. I appreciated the fact that she also told us that many patrons had been sending back the sea salt chocolate tort because it was too salty. So the pudding came out warm with a dollop of cinnamon ice cream atop and butterscotch sauce neatly placed adjacent. The dessert was rich and decadent, but not bursting with sweetness. The pumpkin bread pudding was just the right size to share and the right warmth. The ice cream did not overpower; it was more cinnamon-infused. This was a recipe we should have asked the chef for, it was that good.

Both Sheila and I would go back to try some of their other dishes. I give it a strong 8 out of 10. However it is rather expensive, so expect to spend approx. $90 (w/ tax and tip) for two. It's worth it though.

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