Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Two Great Restaurants: Ca'Dario and Elements

When we were in Santa Barbara last weekend, with friends from the Bay Area, we tried a restaurant we had not been to before, Ca'Dario . It is a small Italian, intimate restaurant that has been around for a long time and has gotten the rating "Excellent" from Zagat Survey for the last three consecutive years.
Starting of with a glass of wine in the small, cozy bar, we were soon seated. We started our meal with sharing the outrageously good Risotto del Giorno, which happened to be Wild Mushroom this particular night. True Italian risotto, creamy, silky and oh so tasty! We continued with splitting the Insalata Ca'Dario, a salad with radicchio, arugula and shaved Parmesan. Fresh, crisp, and light. For main course I ordered Penne al Salmone e Panna. A hand made pasta with smoked Salmon and a white sour cream, dill sauce. Pasta perfectly cooked al dente, tossed with generous amount of smoked salmon and perfect amount of sauce. The pasta was not at all "floating" in the sauce as you so many times see... Delicious!!!
With this meal we had a bottle of Antinori Pian Delle Vigne 2000 Brunello Di Montalcino, that our friends had brought. A great full bodied Brunello, 100% Sangiovese, with big dark fruit and mellow tannins. Great meal, great wine, great company, great night!

The prior night we enjoyed dinner at Elements which I have reviewed previously . However, I tried new dishes and wine so I just have to tell you all about it again...
Sea Scallop with Creole Sauce, Asparagus and Crab meat made for an excellent start. Scallops tender and perfectly seared and the sauce very flavorful with some spice to it.
For main course the Lemongrass-Panko Crusted Sea Bass with a Thai Green Curry Sauce, Gingered Basmati Rice and Stir Fried Medley of Vegetables. Nicely balanced dish with right amount of spiciness of the coconut curry sauce, not overpowering the sea bass.
As a final, the grownup version of Ice Cream Cookie, with home made chocolate cookies hugging vanilla ice cream, topped with dark chocolate sauce.
The wines we had with this meal were all great. We started with the La Vie Vineyards Rasta Rita, Santa Rita Hills 2003 Pinot Noir. A big and powerful Pinot with dark fruit, nice spice and great tannins to balance it all out into a long finish. A truly great Pinot! One of the best one I've had in quite a while. We continued with the Sea Smoke Cellars Southing Santa Rita Hills 2003 Pinot Noir. Again beautiful dark berries and fruit with great tannins as backbone but this one a little bit more elegant in style than the Rasta Rita. Also an amazing Pinot, right up there with the Rasta Rita.
Last we had the Stag's Leap Cellars SLV 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon. A great match to the chocolate dessert. Black currant, and dark, not to ripe, fruit, with good tannin structure. We opened this bottle at the beginning of the meal to let it air and that was a good call.

Looks like it's hard to go wrong in Santa Barbara with a ton of great restaurants to choose from, and most of them featuring a respectable wine list.

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