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Arts and Letters
updated: Jan 01, 2011, 9:30 AM
By Ms. Lemonjelly
Arts and Letters is a place I've wanted to go to for years, literally. Sometimes other places would distract me, sometimes I'd try to go but they wouldn't be open. They've even had a great Buy One Get One Free coupon in the Indy, and I *still* couldn't make a visit happen. But finally, during the lull between Christmas and New Years, I came here for lunch.
Wow, what a lovely little spot. I mean, I've looked into the space when visiting Sullivan Goss, and I've peeked at the menu in the courtyard plenty of times, but it's not the same as sitting down at the linen covered table, a budding rose as the centerpiece, with thearbor overhead and being surrounded by art in the galleries when it becomes apparent that this is a secluded gem in downtown.
I was with a party of four, and we shared a charcuterie plate to start, $15. There is normally a selection of charcuterie, of which you can have three. We got the pâté, coppa and pepper salami, which were all fabulous, and came dressed with pickled cauliflower and beets, mustard and a balsamic reduction sauce. And heaps of bread, which could also be dipped in an herb-seasoned olive oil provided to the table.
Most of us opted for a lunch option called "el niño," which is the half sandwich, salad and a choice of soup or French fries, for $15. We like having lots of little things to dabble in. Soups that day were pumpkin and cauliflower.
Lunch 1: this was the Riviera seafood salad, and it looked nice, and contained scallops, shrimp and crab, but honestly I didn't pay much attention to it until near the end of the meal, when I saw it was completely devoured.
Lunch 2: Curry chicken salad sandwich, with salad and pumpkin soup. Great flavors - got a little messy, best eaten with a fork.
Lunch 3: Local black cod cake sandwich, with salad and pumpkin soup. This was my lunch, and it was delicious. Lots of cod, but still sturdy enough that it held in place in the sandwich. I love salad that is just lightly dressed with vinaigrette, but dressed early enough that it has tenderized the greens slightly, and this is how Arts and Letters does it - plus lots of avocado.
Lunch 4: Lamenting the recent loss of Miss Saigon and its bahn mi, the final sandwich of this lunch was grilled Niman Ranch pork, Vietnamese-style, with lots of crunchy goodies. This "el niño" combination also included the French fries, since the diner was a self-proclaimed French fry fanatic. Our waiter said the fries here were amazing, fried in soybean oil to make them lighter. I suspect they also gave them a light coating of cornstarch, because they were indeed light, and crunchy. Even 20 minutes into the meal, they were still crisp. So yeah, pretty darn good.
Several acquaintances have talked up the hamburger and the lamb burger, saying they are excellent. It's a pity I wasn't able to try them, we all wanted the sandwich and salad combinations that day. But now that I've been once, I want to go back.
Btw, Sullivan Goss was preparing a new exhibit of Lockwood de Forest's artwork when I passed through. It should be open by this coming January First Thursday, if not sooner.
Arts and Letters Cafe, within Sullivan Goss Gallery
7 East Anapamu Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Lunch is 7 days a week, dinner is Wednesday - Sunday.
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