Sly’s – Carpinteria
I first set foot in Sly’s when I joined some friends on a quest of good cocktails, and not only did we find them, but we also stayed for the food.
Sly’s pedigree includes Lucky’s for upper-end steak and seafood, but that should not turn off an average diner with an average sized pocketbook from exploring what’s there…as long as you are fine with trekking over to Carpinteria.
The back room does have a feel of a finer dining experience, with its linen cloths, quiet atmosphere and patient yet attentive wait staff. But the front bar and bistro area is casual and comfortable. I really enjoyed sitting at the bar, even for eating.
And I mentioned that my first reason for coming here was for the cocktails. Sly’s cocktails are among my favorite in this area, especially for the classics, like a Manhattan, Gimlet, Negroni, gin and tonic?or Moscow Mule. The Manhattans are made with real Marasca cherries; they make their own tonic water for the G&Ts, and the Moscow Mule comes in its traditional copper mug. And the prices are good for this level of quality. The Moscow Mule I had on this night was $7. Ted got a shot of the exquisite Maker’s 46.
The real special I want to focus on, though, are their prix fixe dinners. The menu changes about every three weeks to a region of France, and I recently got a chance to sample it.
For my meal, the prix fixe was based on the regional cuisine of the Brittany coast, known for savory buckwheat crepes, cream, and salted butter.
The price for each is $35, for a starter, a main, and a dessert. For wine pairings, the price is $55. I had the meal only. I was in a group that enjoys trying as much as possible, so we managed to order almost everything off the menu.
* Bisque of cepes (mushrooms)
* Moules frites – mussels and french fries
* Special gateau Breton
I had the cassoulette, which came in a cream and white wine sauce, and drizzled with lobster sauce. A good-sized portion, and the sauce was great for dipping with their fresh baked crusty bread.
My rack of lamb was prepared medium rare, and the diner specifies its doneness. It comes with a little wood toothpick labeled with the correct doneness. They’ll prepare it, or steak, well done if you desire, and not give you grief on that choice. But if you ask for their recommendation, the suggestion is medium, to medium rare. The dish came with the white beans, as listed. They were tender cooked flageolets. Also, fresh crisp-tender green beans with a light cream sauce.
I selected the special Breton cake for dessert, as I’d never heard of it before and didn’t expect to see anything like it elsewhere around town. The dough is rolled and folded, in a style similar to puff pastry, and layered in between with sugar and butter. If you can imagine a cake made mostly of butter and sugar, held successfully together by a little flour and egg, this is it. Baked as a pancake, the bottom was quite dense and needed a knife at times to cut it into bite size pieces and tastes sweet, slightly salty with a buttery chewy texture.
The salt in the caramel had one friend enjoying her crepes, saying it was very flavorful and not cloyingly sweet. And the bittersweet chocolate mousse was so rich and dense that it went a long way, even shared between several people.
The Brittany menu is wrapping up soon, and may have already completed. That is okay, because the next prix fixe is going to specialize in the cuisine of Provence!