Friday, July 9, 2010

Cafe Luck with The Hamilton Co.

On a recent visit to Santa Barbara to meet with my clients, real estate professionals Josiah and Justine of The Hamilton Co. we decided to take our brainstorming to dinner at Cafe Luck downtown. Upon stepping into the authentic French bistro owned by LUCKY Jeans entrepreneur and local Gene Montesano (whose Lucky's Steakhouse has been satisfyingly feeding Montecito residents for years), I immediately knew the food was going to be good by the clinking of glasses and smiles of the patrons all sitting amid the dual wood paneled rooms. A short wait for my friends at the small, elegant bar inspired me to order my favorite cocktail-the negroni, which was served perfectly chilled in a glass tumbler with an orange twist by a genial bartender. I enjoyed myself reviewing the wall covered in cocktail napkins creatively drawn upon by guests that were neatly framed and turned sideways like diamonds.

The menu was equally impressive: a wide variety of unadorned and simple dishes featuring fruits of the sea, appetizer offerings that included octopus and ricotta dumplings and an entree menu fit to please any carnivore from braised lamb to filet au poivre to duck confit.

We started with two dozen creamy kumamoto oysters and I followed that with a beet and goat cheese salad. Typically I wish there was more goat cheese when I order this but at Cafe Luck my salad arrived with generous dottings of goat cheese shaped like tiny pears in the same fashion the beets were, like little presents lining the dish.

My entree of bouillabaisse was the simplest presentation of the dish I have ever seen. A medium sized boat shaped bowl arrived with a minimal amount of tangy tomato sauce topped with a hearty seared white fish, buttery fat prawns, and sweet green mussels accentuated by the anise flavor of al dente fennel strips across the top.

The Hamiltons, who despite the fact that they eat out constantly still both maintain the most fabulous physiques, ordered similar dishes of sliced steak in rich burgundy sauce served with the surprising and delightful addition of a round bone filled with sizzling marrow and a small spoon for which to enjoy with the dish! That creative twist put a perfect exclamation point on a great evening for me as I sat and listened to tales of the area while watching everyone else in the restaurant looking equally content. Summertime gloom wear garb of jeans and sweaters accompanied the fashionably chic. Comfortable and warm and simple, I will definitely go there again to try that bone marrow.

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