Sly’s – Carpinteria
My first visit here was an experience in perfection. Nothing over the top, or wildly “foodie” innovative, just good classic food and cocktails, done right.
There are two distinct dining areas, to suit your mood. The front area is the bar and bistro area, for when you’re feeling casual or moody.
I went with four friends for a quiet weekend evening and the first thing we noticed on the menu was the cocktails, with dates next to them. The dates are the accepted years that each of those cocktails was devised. It was our first hint that this place had purist ideals.
* they make their own orgeat for mai tais,
We sampled more than this, but I do not want to appear like a total lush, so I’ll leave it at that. The bottom line on the cocktails is that Sly’s is serious about them, making sure they’re done proper. I have no doubt the other cocktails on the menu are just as good.
We stuck around for dinner, and remained at the bar. The bartender knew the menu forwards and back, including the specials, and could name the sources of all the dishes we inquired about, especially when they came from local businesses. I think it’s important to note here that the more questions we asked about the food, the more pleased they were to answer them, because I feel their knowledge of ingredient sources and preparation is what makes Sly’s different to other steak and seafood places. And it’s really something to be proud of.
I had the mussels, Spanish style, which came with firm chorizo, caramelized onions and a tomato-based sauce that was so delicious we used our hot bread to soak up all those good juices. I even resorted to scooping it up with a spoon since there was so much. The dish was also generously portioned, about 20 mussels, and it cost $14. There are several other sauce options, and they all range in price between $12-$14. So reasonable.
Nothing could top a meal that brought back those European memories like a round of profiteroles for dessert could. I swear I had no idea what was on the menu and when I was offered the dessert menu I flat out said I could not be tempted, unless there was profiteroles. And guess what was there, prominently displayed on the menu. YES! A handful of choux pastries filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce and a warm pot of housemade dark caramel sauce on the side. The price on this varies, depending on the number of profiteroles requested. I selected 5, and that was $13.
There are many other items on the menu, different cuts of steak, bigger cuts, lots of fish and shellfish. The prices are generally on the upper end, as these are sourced from reputable specialty companies, not mysterious agri-beef businesses or large scale produce corporations. But still, the items we happened to order were very affordable, especially given the attention to detail and the quality of the ingredients.