Wine Cask, Santa Barbara

July 16, 2012 2:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Located in downtown Santa Barbara in the historic El Paseo complex, Wine Cask delivers an elegant, yet relaxed cuisine to those who love fresh, carefully selected foods. It boasts three different dining and drinking experiences. The main dining room, The Gold Room; offers more of an upscale dining experience. There is a large cozy fireplace and vaulted wood beam ceilings that are brilliantly embellished with golden interchanging patterns. The Margerum Wine Tasting Room is a more casual, simplistic environment which is not only used as the wine tasting room, but can be used for various local events. The Intermezzo is the bar/café area, which allows guests to nibble on appetizers and sip upon their signature cocktails in an atmosphere that combines both the upscale and casual dining experience. Outside, patrons can dine al fresco on the patio and enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather.

Bacon Today decided to make a trip to Wine Cask to taste some of their delicious pork paired dishes. Obviously we were excited to try out anything pork related, but we were even more excited to try out their fresh food from the local Farmer’s Market. We sat in the Gold Room and ordered the “Thai High” cocktail which consisted of a Thai Chili Infused Vodka, Mango, Lime, and Lemon Grass Simple Syrup. It was pleasantly spicy and a perfect partner with the plates that followed.

We first tried the Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread. It was a delicious combination of prosciutto, arugula, oven-dried tomato, and a personal favorite of ours; Humboldt Fog cheese. For those of you who aren’t familiar with prosciutto; it is a dry-cured ham that is thinly sliced and served uncooked. Like bacon, it is a dry-cured pork and is an absolutely salty-delicious meat. We realize that “delicious” is an opinion, but it was more of a fact when it came to this Flatbread.

The dish that came after was unlike anything we had ever tried before. We were greeted by three Beer Battered Oyster-Bacon Skewers. They were oysters that had been bacon-wrapped, beer battered, then deep fried, and exceeded any expectation of a typical oyster. We devoured every bite of this appetizer with complete zeal.

After relishing these dishes, we briefly chatted with Chef Brandon Hughes as we sipped the rest of our “Thai High” martini. Originally going to school in the field of science, Chef Hughes moved to Santa Barbara in 2001 to attend Santa Barbara City College’s School of Culinary Arts… And everyone in Santa Barbara is thankful he did. He believes in making dishes with the freshest ingredients and visits the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market weekly. Chef Hughes and the team at Wine Cask also cure their own lardo, make their own bacon, and even churn their own butter.

Obviously Chef Hughes and everyone at Wine Cask believe in serving their customers with the freshest ingredients. The dedication to taste and freshness definitely showed within these two dishes that we had the pleasure of trying. Chef Hughes did admit that he loves pork and using it in dishes. We commend his proclamation and implore him to integrate pork into even more plates. They created bacon-wrapped oysters, perhaps they can bacon-wrap fish? Maybe salmon?

Needless to say, the Bacon Today team thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Wine Cask and will definitely be returning in the future. If you’re visiting this beautiful city, we recommend stopping in for dinner, drinks, or some small bites before heading out for a night on the town. You will definitely be pleased with their friendly service and delicious food.

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