Most of the time that I am in downtown Santa Barbara, it is on a stop on the way up to wine country or on the way back home. I have spent afternoons wandering around the Funk Zone in downtown Santa Barbara. While tasting rooms are open during the day in that area, some of the restaurants only open at night. One of those is The Lark. And unfortunately, I have never been there late enough to stay for dinner. But on a recent overnight in Santa Barbara, it was finally my chance to eat at The Lark.
The Lark opened in 2013 and has been a Santa Barbara favorite ever since. An urban eatery, it is warm and casual with the re-purposed dark wood materials. Serving locally sourced and responsibly grown seasonal ingredients culled from what is available on the Central Coast, the food is served family style – my favorite!
As soon as we sat down, we were served the Lark Popcorn, made with red wine salt, duck fat, thyme, rosemary, black pepper and lemon zest. Savory with a hint of citrus, it is amazing how fast that basket gets emptied.
As we were sharing everything family style, we opted for one dish from each section – From the Farm, From the Ocean, From the Ranch and From Platters. But first we started with one of the Snacks, the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with medjool dates, garum, sesame and lime. The leaves on the brussels sprouts are crispy and I loved the play between the sweetness from the dates and the citrus from the lime.
The Smoked Persimmon & Burrata is a salad with bartlett pear, brown butter walnuts, fennel, radicchio, dandelion greens and nutmeg. There are so many flavors – smoky, creamy, sweet – in this fresh dish. The persimmon is very thinly sliced but the pears are cut in thick wedges for a nice fresh crunch.
The Grilled Spanish Octopus with cast iron roasted parsnips, blood orange, sugar snap peas, tarragon and red wine jus comes with large thick pieces of octopus that are cooked to perfection.
Instead of drinking a glass of sauternes with mousse, the Duck Liver Mousse comes with a sauternes gelle on top as well as hazelnut praline, satsuma tangerine, cardamom pear butter, crispy sage and toasted brioche.
The Black Garlic Glazed Lamb Shank with harissa spiced root vegetables, almond & pomegranate chutney, citrus & olive yogurt and grilled flatbread is tender, almost falling off the bone. The meat is beautiful on its own, but it was fun to place it on the flatbread and add vegetables and the citrus & olive yogurt for more of a sandwich.
My eyes were drawn to the Deep Fried Autumn Spice Cake with curry apple butter, persimmons, candied oats, gingersnap ice cream. It seemed wrong to fry up spice cake and yet it was so right. The cake is moist and flavorful even though it is deep fried but the cake has a crunchy outer layer.
Next time you are wandering about the Funk Zone tasting wine and thinking about hitting the road, enjoy a meal at The Lark and wait until the traffic dies down.
131 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101