Local Dish: Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee and Monkeyshine Roar With Flavors

Follow the pink lanterns to the Tyger Tyger team, waiting to serve you at the new Funk Zone spot. Photo by Rob Stark.

Follow the pink lanterns to the Tyger Tyger team, waiting to serve you at the new Funk Zone spot. Photo by Rob Stark.

Follow the pretty pink lanterns to a terrific new place in the Funk Zone.

The neighborhood marketplace home to Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee Co. and Monkeyshine is finally open, and this yummy addition to the waterfront area was well worth the wait!

Acme Hospitality (of The Lark, Loquita and Lucky Penny fame, to name just a few) has created a collective that’s been a hit from day one.  The three-concept venue includes Tyger Tyger, a fast-fine restaurant with Thai-Vietnamese influenced dishes; Monkeyshine, with exotic soft serve ice cream and popsicles; and local roaster Dart Coffee Co., to keep everyone caffeinated and happy,. The marketplace is located  at 121 E. Yanonali St., on the corner of Gray Avenue near the Arts Fund.

It’s hard to miss the hundreds of illuminated pink lanterns on the interior and exterior ceilings of this pretty new food hall. Large windows peek into the building and bring all-day sunshine into the airy room. The palette of bright pink, saffron yellow, orange and turquoise warm the interiors and definitely let you know that you’re in for a unique treat, evoking elements of Thailand, Vietnam and the Central Coast—flavors which are also echoed in the menu.

Inside the Funk Zone's new marketplace, which features Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee Co. and Monkeyshine. Photo by Rob Stark.

Inside the Funk Zone’s new marketplace, which features Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee Co. and Monkeyshine. Photo by Rob Stark.

Tyger Tyger and sister operation Monkeyshine are led by Santa Barbara born-and-raised Chef Daniel Palaima who returned home from Chicago to lead the team after stints with internationally acclaimed, award-winning chefs. Bold Thai and Vietnamese inspired dishes we’ve tried so far include melt-in-your-mouth Weeping Brisket with coconut sticky rice; almost-too-pretty-to-eat Shrimp Summer Rolls; Spicy Pork Larb Salad (we tried the impossible “pork” meatless version and it was amazing); Octopus Salad with glass noodles and nouc cham; and Curried Noodles with braised pork and fermented mustard greens, among others. Everything was delicious and great to share with friends.  

Tasty Thai and Vietnamese-inspired dishes at Tyger Tyger. Photo by Rob Stark.

Tasty Thai and Vietnamese-inspired dishes at Tyger Tyger. Photo by Rob Stark.

Offering the perfect deserts to accompany Tyger Tyger’s spicy flavors, Monkeyshine  is an ice cream counter serving frozen treats flavored with Asian spices and ingredients. The menu features soft serve ice cream flavors like Green Tea; Toasted Rice; Ginger; Thai Chili Chocolate; Orange Szechuan Pepper; Vegan Coconut Lemongrass; and Black Sesame, with exotic toppings, as well as house-made Popsicles. 

Monkeyshine offers a pretty array of toppings for soft service ice cream served in fish-shaped cones. Photo by Rob Stark.

Monkeyshine offers a pretty array of toppings for soft service ice cream served in fish-shaped cones. Photo by Rob Stark.

Dart Coffee Co. completes the trio with its specialty coffee counter. The Funk Zone’s own small-lot specialty coffee roaster, Dart Coffee offers espresso drinks, cold brew, nitro cold brew and locally-made kombucha. Fair trade organic beans are roasted onsite daily and retail coffee is available in addition to an extensive menu of espresso drinks—try the Corena Cortado for the most delicious cinnamon churro-like treat, or the June Bug for a sweet kiss of lavender with your java—and specialty loose leaf organic teas alongside locally made pastries and bites.

Dart Coffee Co. is owned and operated by husband and wife team Erika Carter Dart (a beloved local artist) and David Dart (a beloved local dentist) who have lived and worked in the Funk Zone for more than 16 years. This location marks their first retail shop, bringing ethical craft-roasted coffee to the public, sourcing only the finest organic, fair-trade coffee beans from small-lot indigenous farmers who share their vision. Plus a percentage of every bean sold helps sustain artist studios in Santa Barbara’s diverse art districts through The Yanonali Street Artist Fund.

The Dart Coffee team (that's owner Erika Carter Dart in front) is ready to serve delicious, sustainably roasted coffee and treats. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Dart Coffee team (that’s owner Erika Carter Dart in front) is ready to serve delicious, sustainably roasted coffee and treats. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Follow the bright pink lanterns to the marketplace. A delicious adventure awaits!

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 15, 2018.

Local Dish: Smithy Kitchen + Bar

The outdoor patio at Kitchen + Bar is a beautiful place to dine, day or night. Photo courtesy Smithy.

The outdoor patio at Kitchen + Bar is a beautiful place to dine, day or night. Photo courtesy Smithy.

There’s nothing better than good food in a beautiful setting, and the new Smithy Kitchen + Bar (7 E. Anapamu St.) has both! I’ve dined on the lovely outdoor patio—under its gorgeous canopy of 100-year-old olive trees—twice in the last few weeks—once on a cold night and once on a warmish one—and the well-placed heaters make it a comfortable and cozy spot to be in almost any weather.

Designer Steve Hermann has redone the former Somerset space in an upscale yet approachable style, with a more “Santa Barbara” vibe and every day price point. Originally a blacksmith shop, hence the name “Smithy,” this prime downtown location (near the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Public Library and Sullivan Goss Gallery) is now a great spot for lunch, dinner with friends and family, nighttime drinks and bites or a leisurely Sunday brunch. There’s also a special Easter Brunch menu, if you’re eager to check it out this weekend.

Smithy's "Baby I'm a Star" cocktail and roasted sunchokes with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Smithy’s “Baby I’m a Star” cocktail and roasted sunchokes with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Chef Lauren Herman’s new menu is delicious, and nothing is over $20. We loved the mussels and clams with shallot, garlic, crispy pork belly, and bok choy served with grilled toast. The sauce was so savory we asked for extra toast (homemade) to lap up every last bite. The pastas were also terrific. Try the Cavatelli combined with pork ragu, mustard greens and tomato confit for a hearty dish. The squid ink casarecce in lobster bisque with uni and nori breadcrumbs was also fabulous.

The vegetables really shine as well. We loved the fried delicata squash with cauliflower, bagna cauda, calabrian chili and anchovy aïoli, as well the roasted rainbow carrots with spiced cashew butter, coconut yogurt and carrot top pistou. I also enjoyed the sunchokes, roasted with chanterelles, brown butter hazelnuts and butternut squash puree. Overall, everything was tasty and ideal for sharing.

Smithy's Polenta Dumplings and Mushroom Flatbread. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Smithy’s Polenta Dumplings and Mushroom Flatbread. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Partners in life and in the kitchen, Lauren Herman’s wife, Christina Olufson, is a terrific pastry chef.  The flourless chocolate cake with crushed honeycomb was amazing, as was the butterscotch pumpkin cake. Our friends at a nearby table also raved about the brioche doughnuts, so those are definitely on my list to try next time. 

The cocktails are also worth noting, with creative names like “Ortega Undead II: The Resurrection”  (tequila blanco, lime , thai chile, wild elderflower, falernum and chili-salt rim), “From Tokyo to Mars” (iwai japanese whiskey and bittered grapefruit cordial) and “Baby I’m a Star” (pear and fennel, vodka, fino sherry, absinthe, lemon and peychauds bitters) that are just as delicious as they are irresistible for wordsmiths.

One of several communal dining tables at Smithy Kitchen + Bar, courtesy photo.

One of several communal dining tables at Smithy Kitchen + Bar, courtesy photo.

While I loved the aesthetic of Somerset, Smithy is definitely a more welcoming space, not to mention significantly less expensive. The building’s original exposed brick walls with white weathered board and batten walls, rustic reclaimed table tops, and original school house chairs create a beautiful restaurant that is both airy and open, yet still feels intimate. As is becoming a trend, there are three separate communal tables and bar seating, as well as an additional 130 seats located inside and out, offering a myriad of dining possibilities. The nights I was there, there were large groups of people (both young and less young), lots of couples and smaller groups, as well as some solo diners.

Smithy's Kale Salad. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

Smithy’s Kale Salad. Photo by Kay Cheon, courtesy Smithy.

“We want Smithy to provide a dining oasis in the heart of Santa Barbara,” states owner and designer, Steve Hermann.  “We hope to become that bar/restaurant that feels like home for all of our guests’ dining and drinking needs, whether small or large.  Our food is delicious yet accessible, and our environment is welcoming and comfortable.  We’d like to create a new history with Smithy that matches the history of our iconic Santa Barbara location.”

Smithy is located in downtown Santa Barbara at 7 East Anapamu St.  Call 805/845-7112 or visit Open Table for reservations. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 – 2:30 p.m.; dinner from 5p.m. – close; and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Happy hour runs daily from 4 – 6 p.m.

Leslie Dinaberg 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on March 29, 2018.

Interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Bar interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Bar interior shot, courtesy Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Local Dish: A Flavorful Feast at Finch & Fork

Finch & Fork's Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Kanpachi Crudo, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Some good news for Goleta: longtime Finch & Fork Executive Chef James Siao has taken on the dual role as Executive Chef of the Canary Hotel‘s sister property, Outpost at the Goodland. For the past five years, Siao has done an excellent job creating elevated comfort food at Finch & Fork. Our recent meal was no exception. 

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Executive Chef James Siao, courtesy photo.

Leaving our menu in Siao’s very capable hands, we started the evening off with the beautifully bright Kanpachi Crudo, made with avocado and cilantro crema, pickled pearl onions, jicama, yuzu and jalapeño. This was followed by a seasonal salad of Burrata & Heirloom Tomatoes, complimented with stonefruit, kale & pistachio pesto and outstanding grilled bread.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch and Fork Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I could have died and gone to heaven quite happily right there, but Siao continued to bring out wonderful dishes, including a creamy Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli made with spinach, peas, preserved lemon and pecorino; and an incredibly flavorful Cauliflower, with romesco, hazelnut dukkah (an Egyptian nut and spice mix) and lemon.

Finch & Fork's Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The entrees (yes … there was still more!) were also terrific. A colorful Duck Breast with carrot cardamom puree, farro, onions and blackberry gastrique and perfectly prepared Sea Scallops with gold beet relish, grapefruit, chorizo vinaigrette and sliced avocado.

Finch & Fork's Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Cauliflower, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

I can’t wait to see what Siao does with the Outpost menu. According to Spokeswoman Nicole Lazar, “Siao looks to add dishes that fit perfectly into the laid-back and sociable setting, including playful interpretations of classics. At Outpost, expect to see more sharable plates that highlight the season’s best, and focus on vibrant, flavorful ingredients. He and the culinary team at Outpost are currently working on new menus, starting with dinner, so stay tuned for exciting new creations.” 

Finch & Fork's Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Sea Scallops, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

For more information on Finch & Fork (31 West Carrillo St. at the Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara), visit www.finchandforkrestaurant.com. For more information on Outpost (5650 Calle Real at the Goodland hotel in Goleta), visit www.outpostsb.com

Finch & Fork's Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Finch & Fork’s Duck Breast, photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 14, 2017.

CPK Celebrates 25 Years in SB

CPK's new Fire-Grilled Ribeye, photographed in the CPK Test Kitchen, Redondo Beach, courtesy CPK.

CPK’s new Fire-Grilled Ribeye, photographed in the CPK Test Kitchen, Redondo Beach, courtesy CPK.

It’s hard to believe, but CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo this week (located at 652 Paseo Nuevo, http://paseonuevoshopping.com/directory/california-pizza-kitchen/, 805/962-4648). For those of us who remember Piccadilly Square being where the mall now is, it’s hard to believe that the family-friendly favorite restaurant is actually a quarter of a century old! 

CPK is celebrating with special prizes and deals this week, like in-restaurant restaurant raffles with prizes, including a CPKids party, office catering, and dinner for two; free dessert on Thursday and Friday (their amazingly yummy butter cake or red velvet cake for guests who dine in) and double rewards for Pizza Dough Rewards members, which is a nice deal for regular customers.

CPK's Butter Cake, courtesy photo.

CPK’s Butter Cake, courtesy photo.

We dined there this week and sampled the new menu items from CPK’s “Next Chapter initiative,” which includes additional entree style dishes and a whole bunch of hand-crafted cocktails. Don’t worry, your old favorites like The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, Thai Crunch Salad and Spinach Artichoke Dip are still there, but there are also some tasty new main plates like a Fire-Grilled Ribeye, Hearth Roasted Haibut and Mahi Mahi Tacos, among others. We also loved the Bianco Flatbread with whipped truffle cream, gorgonzola, mozzarella and fresh sage.

Sangria Flight (L-R) Orchard, Red Berry, Harvest, courtesy CPK.

Sangria Flight (L-R) Orchard, Red Berry, Harvest, courtesy CPK.

Cocktail faves include the Moscow Mule, a Blueberry Ginger Smash (with Jack Daniels) and a seasonal selection of Sangrias—try the flight of three, smaller pours. My favorite Sangria was the seasonal harvest with rum, St. Germain, Chardonnay, mint and basil. This is definitely not your Abuelita’s Sangria, but it’s delicious, refreshing and perfect for summer!

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on July 12, 2016.