Bar Le Côte

2375 Alamo Pintado Ave

Los Olivos, CA 93441 


The Food:

Oysters; Pacific Golds, Mere Point Petites

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin

Peel & Eat Shrimp, BLC Spice, Cocktail Sauce & Lemon

Gambas Al Ajillo; Head on Gulf Shrimp, Crispy Garlic, Parsley, Lemon

Rachelle’s Saffron Buns

Day Boat Scallop Crudo; Pickled Mighty Cap Black Pearl Mushrooms,

Crème Fraîche, Dill Pollen

Little Neck Clams; House Chorizo, White Wine, Sofrito, Toasted Bolillo

BLC Spiced Fries

Coconut ice cream

The Wines:

1996 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 97
2001 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru   95
1990 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 96

With its seafood focused menu and bright décor, Bar Le Côte is a very welcome addition to the Santa Barbara wine country dining scene. Executive and co-owner Chef Brad Matthews and his team offer a wonderfully inviting menu that will have you thinking about your next visit before you leave. I had been hearing raves about Bar Le Côte for months prior to my June visit, so I was eager to check it out, especially given the paucity of options in Los Olivos, where I tend to stay.

Oysters, Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Peel & Eat Shrimp, BLC Spice, Cocktail Sauce & Lemon

Bar Le Côte is a new restaurant from proprietors Daisy and Greg Ryan, who opened Bell’s in Los Alamos a few years before. Located in the heart of town, literally a stone’s throw from the many tasting rooms that are the central attraction in Los Olivos these days, Bar Le Côte is the ideal place to stop by for lunch or dinner in wine country. The open kitchen, small bar and beautifully designed and warm interior are immediately welcoming, as is the staff.

Gambas Al Ajillo; Head on Gulf Shrimp, Crispy Garlic, Parsley, Lemon

We tried to order as many things off the menu as we could. We devoured a dozen oysters pretty much the minute they arrived, as they were sublime. The Santa Barbara sea urchin was delicious, although I would have preferred to have it on some sort of toast or bread. Peel and eat shrimp were spicy, as advertised, but not terribly easy to eat. If you order the gambas al ajillo, don’t plan on sharing. They were magnificent and full of flavor. I also loved the day boat scallop appetizer, which literally tasted like the ocean.

Bar Le Côte offers an eclectic but well-chosen list. On this night, though, my friends brought some pretty special wines to share. Vinous readers are well aware of how much I like Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne. The 1996 is in a perfect place right now, where it has mellowed nicely in middle age, while retaining plenty of energy. I am not sure it is going to improve meaningfully however, so I would be thinking about drinking any remaining bottles over the next decade or so. The 2001 Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru from Domaine Leflaive was sublime. There’s always a bit of trepidation in opening an older bottle of white Burgundy these days, but the 2001 is in perfect shape for a wine of its age, showing plenty of grace in its airy, lifted personality.

Day Boat Scallop Crudo; Pickled Mighty Cap Black Pearl Mushrooms,Crème Fraîche, Dill Pollen

Our server raved about the Little Neck Clam, which was presented as a sort of stew. Knowing we had an older Barolo coming, I was not sure about the pairing, but I have never been too fussy about such things, usually preferring an “eat what you like, drink what you like” approach. The combination turned out to be unexpectedly brilliant. The clams had plenty of meat-like richness, while the broth, full of chorizo and tomatoes, added layers of flavor and complexity. A generous serving of BLC’s spiced fries certainly did not hurt. My guests were similarly delighted with their main courses.

Little Neck Clams; House Chorizo, White Wine, Sofrito, Toasted Bolillo

Luciano Sandrone’s 1990 Barolo Cannubi Boschis, one of his most famous early wines, obviously doesn’t have the lushness it did as a young wine, but it has matured into a glorious, soft wine with all the complexity typical of a 30+ year-old Barolo. Here, too, I would prefer to drink any remaining bottles sooner rather than later, as the 1990 is not going to improve from here.

BLC Spiced Fries

A single scoop of coconut ice cream was light, refreshing and the perfect way to end this indulgent dinner. Readers spending time in or around Los Olivos will want to check out Bar Le Côte. Reservations are essential.

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