Thursday, April 5, 2012

Putting On Airs: Local Shrimp and Fancy Drinks at Coast Restaurant

Last night, David and I went on a spontaneous dinner date to Coast Restaurant at the Canary Hotel. Their motto is: “Eat. Drink. Local.” All things I like. Inside, Coast looks like an Elizabethan tavern had a baby with Gatsby’s library. The tables are thick, rustic-looking wood slabs and the chairs are distressed leather (distressed in a classy way).

Transported by the vibe of the place, I ordered a Manhattan, straight up. I had no clue what a Manhattan even was, but my dad used to order them when we went out to eat, and the waiters always looked impressed and slightly humbled. When our waiter asked what kind of Bourbon I wanted, I deduced that a Manhattan must include Bourbon. Since I don’t know the names of any kinds of Bourbon, I tried to make my face look mysterious and told him to surprise me.

Our waiter, Brett, was one of the best servers I’ve ever encountered. He asked us our names and shook our hands, but not in the affected way some other waiters do. I think we really made friends. I feel like having a party just so I can invite Brett. Maybe he’ll explain to me how to make a Manhattan, straight up.

I think I played the part of Person Who Knows Something About Fancy Drinks a bit too well, because Brett sent over the bartender (who is also the mixologist for the entire hotel chain), Kenny. Kenny told us about his plan to revamp the entire drink menu, periodically featuring a certain kind of drink in all its historical permutations. He convinced me to come back to Coast, if just to check out some other fancy drinks at the bar.

I perused the menu while sipping my Manhattan, and decided to order the shrimp with squash blossoms and pesto. Brett told me that the shrimp is caught just off the coast of Santa Barbara by a fisherman named Steve Escobar. Steve sells the crabs, lobsters, and prawns he catches at the Dory Fleet, the live fish market he owns in Newport Beach.

The whole dish was delicious. The pasta had just the right combination of butter and pesto, and they certainly hadn’t skimped on the shrimp. Sometimes you order a shrimp dish and it includes exactly three, tiny little shrimp. To my delight, that was not the case here.

David ordered the seared chicken. I asked Brett where the chicken came from, and he assured me it was local, from a farm just about thirty miles north of Santa Barbara.

I wanted to find out more, but I didn’t want to be like Peter and Nance in this Portlandia sketch, who demand to know the most minute details about the life of the chicken they are about to order, from its diet to its name (which is Colin).

I was glad to discover Coast, which is within walking distance of my cottage downtown. Even though it looks like the type of place that should be reserved for special occasions, with the happy-hour price of our drinks, the bill wasn’t mind-blowing. And the atmosphere made me nostalgic for the summer days I spent on docent-led tours at the Vanderbilt mansions in Newport, Rhode Island as a child. Ah.

1 comment:

  1. Great humor. As a Oregon Coastie, love Portlandia. Too true Portland or seems to be as I perceive it to be. Keep up the great sense of humor in your blog, it is an enjoyable (fave) read. Have a great day!