As Santa Barbara’s wineries have burgeoned, so too have places to dine, creating a synergy between chefs and vintners. Nowadays, there is an abundance of excellent restaurants, complete with superlative wine lists.
Situated in the Funk Zone, Santa Barbara’s vibrant arts district north of Stearns Wharf, this sophisticated restaurant serves seasonally inspired cuisine that employs ingredients from local farms. Named after Southern Pacific’s overnight train that ran between Los Angeles and Oakland up until 1968, The Lark has integrated design elements from that time.
For example, tables positioned in antique train booths offer a more private dining experience. Everything on the menu sounded delectable, and since the plates are intended for sharing, we were able to try a significant number of dishes. The crispy Brussels sprouts, served with medjool dates, serrano chile and lime, were simultaneously sweet and tangy, but the caramelized sunchokes accompanied by shavings of aged Spanish Garrotxa cheese, dollops of rosemary yogurt and toasted walnuts were a standout. The chestnut pappardelle with butternut squash and chanterelle mushrooms was delicious, but the crowning glory of our meal was caramelized diver scallops served with sweet Dungeness crabmeat, crispy parsnips and snap peas.