S. Irene Virbila heads to Santa Barbara to check out the Wine Cask, a 25-year-old restaurant with a new owner (Bernard Rosenson who also owns Sky Room in Long Beach) and chef (John Pettit from Melisse and Michael's). This is a restaurant on every tourist's radar, and local's too, which is why Miss Irene deems it necessary. It's a pleasant enough experience, but she has her issues:
Pettit's new menu reflects what's going on now in Southern California cuisine and introduces cutting-edge techniques and influences to the long-running wine country restaurant -- with mixed results.
It's time that chefs trained in California-French cuisine gave up these dated, over-reduced sauces that obliterate the other ingredients, not to mention the accompanying wines. It's the equivalent of winemakers producing over-extracted, high-alcohol wines -- intensity for intensity's sake.
All in all, she finds it moving in the right direction but it needs "some tweaking." Wine Cask gets one-and-a-half stars. Today the "S." stands for "too salty." [LAT]
ELSEWHERE: Jonathan Gold is at Chai Tung for exotic Isaan dishes; Miss Irene blogs about a recent trip to the reopened Morton's the Steakhouse on La Cienega; Dig Lounge rips into a Fab's 'ripper'; Potatomato gives Alhambra's King Hua a dim sum whirl; Rainy Days is completely tickled with Melograno in Hollywood; and Man Bites World is at Silver Lake's El Caserio for Ecuadorian food.