First & Oak is a Perfect Pairing

Posted on Aug 29 by Leslie Dinaberg

First & Oak's Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with marinated cucumber, shrimp toast and sesame vinaigrette; and Roasted Lobster with curried carrot puree, Livier's Granola and Vadouvan Veloute. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with marinated cucumber, shrimp toast and sesame vinaigrette; and Roasted Lobster with curried carrot puree, Livier’s Granola and Vadouvan Veloute. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A plethora of perfect bites can be found at Solvang‘s new restaurant, First & Oak. We enjoyed every bit of our meal, from our first taste to the last bite of the exquisite summer menu created by executive chef Steven Snook with owner and sommelier Jonathan Rosenson’s carefully selected pairings of Coquelicot wines.

First & Oak's Truffle Roasted Cauliflower with chive vinaigrette, crisp quinoa and whipped cauliflower. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Truffle Roasted Cauliflower with chive vinaigrette, crisp quinoa and whipped cauliflower. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

That menu, with an emphasis on fresh, wine friendly cuisine under the  headings To Begin, From the Garden, From the Ocean, From the Farm, and To Finish, features small plates so tasty you won’t really want to share them—but just try keeping your dining companions away from these tasty temptations.

The idea is to be able to eat a perfect little bit from each of the categories without feeling overly stuffed. According to the website, “our recommendation is five plates per person which is equivalent to a first and second course, and dessert.”

First & Oak's Short Rib Bourguignon with pearl onions, wild mushrooms, espuma potato and braising jus; English Pea Risotto with brown butter snails, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms; and Roast Breast of Duck with red miso, crispy garbanzo and hazelnut. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Short Rib Bourguignon with pearl onions, wild mushrooms, espuma potato and braising jus; English Pea Risotto with brown butter snails, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms; and Roast Breast of Duck with red miso, crispy garbanzo and hazelnut. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The night we went our meal included a beautifully inventive selection:

  • Heirloom Tomato Tea with fresh thyme, shaved spring vegetables and lemon vinaigrette;
  • Truffle Roasted Cauliflower with chive vinaigrette, crisp quinoa and whipped cauliflower;
  • Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with marinated cucumber, shrimp toast and sesame vinaigrette;
  • Roasted Lobster with curried carrot puree, Livier’s Granola and Vadouvan Veloute;
  • English Pea Risotto with brown butter snails, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms;
  • Short Rib Bourguignon with pearl onions, wild mushrooms, espuma potato and braising jus;
  • Roast Breast of Duck with red miso, crispy garbanzo and hazelnut;
  • Coquelicot Poached Pear, with dulce de Leche Mousse, Peanut Powder and crisp chocolate; and
  • Pain Perdu with carmelized brioche, milk sorbet, balsamic glass and marinated blackberries.

Rosenson paired each course with a special selection from Coquelicot, all of which were lovely, and enhanced the flavors to a tee.

First & Oak's Coquelicot Poached Pear, with dulce de Leche Mousse, Peanut Powder and crisp chocolate; and Pain Perdu with carmelized brioche, milk sorbet, balsamic glass and marinated blackberries. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

First & Oak’s Coquelicot Poached Pear, with dulce de Leche Mousse, Peanut Powder and crisp chocolate; and Pain Perdu with carmelized brioche, milk sorbet, balsamic glass and marinated blackberries. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

This charming restaurant is clearly a labor of love and also a family affair. Father-son team Bernard and Jonathan Rosenson own the Coquelicot Estate Vineyard in Solvang and purchased the Mirabelle Inn, where First & Oak is located (at 409 First St. in Solvang) in order to showcase their wines and “to create a truly localized restaurant that specializes in local, fresh produce and products from Santa Barbara.”

They have succeeded indeed.

The restaurant is open for dinner daily from 5:30-8:45 p.m. For more information, call 805/6881703 or visit firstandoak.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

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