“Where do all the foodies meet? State Street , State Street !” If you know the tune, you can’t help humming it here. State Street is the lively and vibrant main drag in downtown Santa Barbara, with a huge variety of interesting and unusual shops, as well as some hidden malls, jutting up and down side alleys. The area is filled with coffee houses, ice cream shops, book stores, restaurants and lots of people, strolling the sidewalks at all hours. The Art Museum and Civic Center are here, too.
One of the key reasons for hitting this area is to find the many excellent restaurants, and we found Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro to be one of the best! It’s a big, beautiful and boisterous place with an open bar and open kitchen. It is incredibly light and airy with windows all around the outside. You can see and be seen at all times.
We went for lunch and got to people-watch to our heart’s content at the spacious outdoor seating area. This was the perfect spot for us, since we didn’t want to leave our precious pooch, Boomer, back at our Bed & Breakfast. So while we sipped our wine, Boomer slurped ice water from his personal bowl, provided by our waitress, Jen.
The lunch menu at the Wine Bistro is, in a word, tantalizing. With such a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, flatbreads, Paninis, and entrees, it’s difficult to make a choice. Almost everything sounded wonderful and interesting, whether from “Land,” “Sea,” or “Vegetarian.”
Which “starter” would we start with? Roasted Celery Root Soup with Crispy Pancetta Lardons and Reduced Balsamic? Roasted Beet & Farro Salad with Arugula, Red Onion, Sherry Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese? Braised Pork Ravioli with Cipolini Onion Rings, Micro Broccoli & Pork Jus? Or Prawn & Artichoke Pesto Flatbread with Grape Tomatoes, Red Onion & Shaved Parmesan? Holy Guacamole!
Everything sounded soooo good, but we settled on splitting the Steamed Mussels with Chorizo, Garlic Tomatoes and Grilled Crostini. All the flavors contributed to its sweet, subtle, and tasty broth that required a bread re-order to finish sopping up.
For the main course, Dennis chose the Lobster Salad Sandwich on Toasted French Roll and Salad. Giant chunks of tender lobster with the proper hint of spiced mayo, perfectly complemented by crunchy French bread, gave this dish a rating of “2 claws up!”
Although more carnivore than locavore, Marilyn couldn’t resist ordering a Vegetarian specialty, featuring all seasonal, local ingredients, including produce from the LaFond Vineyard Garden . When the Roasted Delicata Squash with Caramelized Onions, Cauliflower Puree, Mushrooms, Butternut Squash, Spinach and Orzo arrived, it proved to be one of the most beautiful and delicious combinations of vegetables she’d ever seen or tasted. We both marveled over this simple, yet elegant dish. Great as it was, we can’t tell you to order it now, at least not until the next picking season, when it is back on their menu. We would recommend checking with the Wine Bistro regularlyfor their daily specials and running over when the Delicata re-appears on the menu.
Since it's a wine bistro, there is a generous list of mostly local wines, available by the glass, bottle or flight. The Wine Flights consist of 3 ounces of 3 wines, giving customers the opportunity to sample different winemaking styles from local growing areas – all at the reasonable price of $13-$16 for your choice of three.
Before we sat down, we promised each other we’d skip dessert, since we had two really decadent desserts the night before. Are you kidding? When there is a Chocolate Molten Lava Cake on the menu! Not to mention , Chocolate Glazed Banana Cake, Fig Tarte Tatin, Farm Cake, Sherry Wine Cake, and Tangerine Strawberry Shortcake. Okay, so afterwards, we wouldn’t be strolling down State Street, we’d be rolling down State Street!
To be sensible (yeah, right!), we shared the Farm Cake with Va nilla Ice Cream. Although it sounded simple, it was only the richest dark chocolate flourless cake imaginable, which flew off the plate so fast that Dennis barely remembers tasting it. Next time he shares with Marilyn, he’s got first dibs!
Owner Pierre Lafond, a successful local entrepreneur and owner of the Santa Barbara Winery and several other businesses around town, understands the pulse of this city. In the Wine Bistro he has succeeded in creating a charming and happening venue that appeals to wine connoisseurs and foodies alike. Chef Nathan Heil makes sure you enjoy the delicious flavors and stunning presentation of his cuisine. With so many intriguing options and the freshest ingredients, you’ll want to call all your friends to meet down on State Street at the Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro.
Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro
516 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101