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Posted On: Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 4:43 PM
Chef Brandon Hughes
I've experienced Wine Cask's culinary wizardry before, and last week, I bellied up to their new Chef's Counter to peek behind the velvet curtain! A modern spin on the traditional Chef's Table, the Wine Cask's version invites diners to circle around an oversized bar on the kitchen-side of the restaurant.
While you don't actually feel the sizzle of the sauce pans, the experience is about as interactive as it gets. Charismatic Chef Brandon Hughes introduces each delightful element of the three-course tasting menu, all crafted with hand-selected ingredients from local growers and farmers' markets.
Each course is paired with local wines poured from Wine Cask's new Green Tap System, an eco-friendly innovation to reduce the environmental impact of winemaking. Through the owners' close relationships with local wineries, Wine Cask receives hand-delivered, reusable kegs, which eliminates the need for bottles, corks, labels and other waste.
On to the delicious details... At my Chef's Table experience, we started with a first course of baked local Corvina in a parchment pouch (that we opened like a carefully wrapped gift) and a glass of 2010 diatom ‘miya.' Next arrived an indulgent plate of crisp pork belly atop split pea puree, roasted spring onions and drizzled with wild flower honey reduction, which we washed down with a glass of 2009 Melville Pinot Noir. And the best was saved for last with an apple crisp topped with cinnamon Chantilly accompanied by a lovely Margerum Riesling. When the dessert came, Chef Hughes introduced his talented colleague, Pastry Chef Rosie Gerard, who is one of only three pastry chefs in Santa Barbara and has an impressive background with experience working with famed Chef Daniel Boulud.
If you're craving even more chef time, make your Chef's Table reservation for Tuesday evening and tack on a Market Tour with Chef Hughes. Meet at 3:30 p.m. for a "foodie stroll" through the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers' Market on State Street and see the fresh ingredients on your plate that same night.
Wine Cask's Chef's Table is offered Monday through Thursday and costs $65 a person. Advanced reservations are required. For more information, visit WineCask.com or call 805.966.9463.