Tre Lune

1151 COAST VILLAGE ROAD
MONTECITO, CA 93108
805.969.2646
TRELUNESB.COM

Maybe the surprise here is that there are not many surprises,” says Soemi Caramel, general manager of Tre Lune in Montecito. “We have a lot of regulars, and they come because they like what we have.” For more than a decade now, carefully prepared genuine Italian cuisine has been the stock in trade at “Three Moons,” a charming, casual dining room with hardwood floors, white table cloths, and framed black-and-white paparazzi photos of celebrities adorning the walls. The food is authentic. Many of the pastas, including the ravioli, gnocchi, and lasagna, are made in-house. From the bread and olive oil to the fall-off-the-fork ossobuco, Tre Lune delivers. After regular Ellen DeGeneres repeatedly ordered a salad with grilled fish in it, the restaurant added the now-popular “Ellen salad” to the menu: tomatoes, arugula, grilled shrimp, scallops and salmon and mustard vinaigrette. Wild-boar penne, basil pesto, tuna tartare, lobster ravioli and veal milanese (a pounded, breaded veal chop on the bone) are standouts. You’ll find white truffles in winter, farmer’s market produce all year, local seafood (sea bass, halibut, stone crab) and imported whole branzino, cooked in the pizza oven or in a salt crust, plus first-rate pizzas. The all-Italian wine list is a yearly Wine Spectator award winner, and more than 40 wines are offered by the glass daily, along with negroni, bellini and other classic Italian cocktails. The restaurant also serves a largely American-style breakfast with Italian twists, and at least once, you should plan to attend the annual Opera Night in spring, when Opera Santa Barbara performers work the room while guests enjoy a four-course dinner.

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Toma

324 WEST CABRILLO BLVD
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.962.0777
TOMARESTAURANT.COM

Toma Restaurant & Bar owners Tom and Vicki Dolan know that Santa Barbara locals probably won’t go out of their way for a restaurant with an ocean view.
“They can see the ocean any time,” Tom says. Which makes it all the more notable that so many local have become regulars at the Dolans’ bright, welcoming year-old restaurant located across the street from the harbor. The draw for them, as for the many well-traveled European visitors who have also discovered Toma, is an appealing ambience, great service (Tom and Vicki have 60-plus years of hospitality experience between them), and excellent food at reasonable prices. “We don’t think of ourselves as formal, but rather as an upscale place with great food,” says Tom. Serving dinner-only seven nights, Toma gets the details right. Desserts, bread, pizza dough and pasta are all made in-house. The Mediterranean-inspired menu reflects the purity of excellent ingredients – think organic, local, farm to table – but has allegiance only to what’s good. That could be the popular appetizer of ahi sashimi with ginger, sesame, soy, chile and chives in a crisp sesame cone; ricotta ravioli with heirloom-tomato sauce; roasted-beet salad with grapefruit, lemon stilton and a pomegranate citronette; steamed clams with chorizo, butter beans, black kale, harissa aioli and crostini; a guanciale pizza with caramelized onions, arugula and a soft egg, or braised short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes, onion confit, arugula and lemon oil. Wines from Italy and the Central Coast and an array of dessert cocktails and liqueurs complete the picture. By the way, even if you didn’t come for it, the view of the harbor through the palm trees is pretty great.

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The Garden Market

3811 SANTA CLAUS LANE
CARPINTERIA, CA 93013
805.745.5505
gardenmarketsb.com

There is no one, single way to enjoy the Garden Market. This warm and welcoming spot, designed by Tammy DeMatteo and located steps from the beach on Carpinteria’s Santa Claus Lane, invites spontaneity. It’s a place to wander, indulge, and escape. Here, you can buy something wonderful, while being somewhere memorable. A lot of travelers stop in for a short break from Highway 101 and end up spending an hour or more in the garden – warmed by the sun, refreshed by a sea breeze and transported by the gentle sounds of the fountains burbling among artfully arranged succulents and natives. (Small wonder that it’s a local favorite for weddings and parties – with catering on the premises.) Others come looking for a fast snack and get waylaid by the freshest local organic ingredients presented in carefully prepared dishes that reflect Southern California’s farm-to-table sensibility. Early in the day, you might have a cup of organic coffee or a latté and a homemade blueberry muffin or a breakfast quiche. Later, it could be a glass of fine wine from the extensive collection to go with the daily cream-free soup, a seasonal salad inspired by farmers market produce, a creatively composed sandwich, or the locally famous Friday special – homemade posole verde. You can also eat inside, surrounded by appealing displays of jewelry, table linens, small sculptures, lamps, candles and other garden-related objects – think owls and butterflies – that share a homespun feel derived from wood, stone and other natural elements. It’s the perfect setup for wherever a post-prandial peregrination may lead.

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The Black Sheep

36 EAST ORTEGA STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.965.1113
THEBLACKSHEEPSB.COM

The world needs more places like The Black Sheep, the colorful, friendly, innovative restaurant that opened in spring 2015. Convivial owner, Ruben Perez, loves to share and talk about good food and wine, and in the kitchen, his father, Chef Robert, brings passion and decades of haute cuisine experience to a menu of shareable plates featuring Latin and Asian accents. The thinly sliced scallop crudo comes with a candied carrot purée, frisée, scallions, ginger-chili mirin and “white” soy vinaigrette, while the beef bone- marrow bruschetta features the rich marrow balanced with a parsley-shallot salad, whole-grain mustard and a red wine sauce. Tender meat slides effortlessly from wild-boar ribs to combine with Asian cabbage and a unique blend of Asian fish sauce with ginger and sriracha. The buratta salad is a benchmark of its kind that also includes fresh in-season fruit, and the daily-changing risotto makes a great shared dish. The shoyu ramen with slow-roasted pork belly and roasted shiitake mushrooms provides a tantalizing surprise for noodle lovers. Larger dishes include sea bass with chorizo and a braised New Zealand lamb shank with Indian spices. Nearly forty microbrew beers are available by the bottle, as is a well-considered list of primarily California wines.

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Sly's

686 LINDEN AVENUE
CARPINTERIA, CA 93013
805.684.6666
slysonline.com

Focused on simple and delicious food, owner James Sly has been behind the stove for over forty years and has had plenty of time and experience to refine his art. Sly’s re-creates classic dishes using top-quality ingredients serving only hand-cut, aged prime steaks and a fabulous seafood menu, including local abalone. You can order a classic crab and shrimp louis or the house specialty, an iced seafood tower. Pasta options range from macaroni and cheese and linguini with clams to the more exotic spaghettini caruso, prepared with chicken livers in marsala. A variety of vegetable dishes are available for vegetarians and over 2,000 French and California wines grace their list. The decor is both comfortable and intriguing. Located in downtown Carpinteria.
 

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Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

230 STEARNS WHARF
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.966.6676
sbfishhouse.coM

Hungry patrons crowd the casual and eventful restaurant where hefty crab and lobster are dropped into boiling cauldrons while award-winning chefs frantically work the open kitchen serving up signature dishes that rival any four star restaurant. The postcard views of the glistening Pacific and nearby Channel Islands are equally intoxicating. The Shellfish Company’s extraordinary menu includes luscious crab cakes – one of their specialties that has been sought after and until now a well kept family secret; New England style clam chowder and a hearty Italian Cioppino served in fresh bread bowls; jumbo shrimp, mussels, scallops and market squid sautéed in white wine, garlic and herbs; marvelous lobster tacos served with homemade salsa; and a kaleidoscope of spectacular oyster dishes from the best cold water oysters served on the half shell, to Oyster Luckyfeller (their version of the timeless favorite Oyster Rockefeller) and mouth watering colossal-size Oyster Poor Boys.

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Relais de Paris

734 STATE STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93117
805.967.6077
RELAISDEPARIS-SANTABARBARA.COM

For an authentic French experience in the heart of State Street, visit Relais de Paris – Entrecôte. Similar to all realis in France, Relais de Paris in Santa Barbara serves simple, honest food in a beautiful welcoming Parisian setting. Relais de Paris offers classic fare made with organic local ingredients and served in an inviting 1920s dining room. Antique brass-and-copper chandeliers hang from the 20-foot ceilings above brick walls, a lovely bar, hardwood floors, banquettes, and tables topped with white cloths and butcher paper. Chef Michael Bertho, who was born in Brittany, makes sure everything is done just right. The star of the menu is the restaurant’s namesake entrecôte - a steak beloved in France. Here, it’s served in classic style - perfectly cooked, thinly sliced and topped by a tangy secret green sauce that follows a complex lineage back to 1959. Alongside is a pile of slender, perfectly crisp frites made in the slow, time-honored way, as is the deeply flavored French-onion soup. (The onions spend six hours caramelizing over low heat.) The rest of the menu follows suit, including escargots in garlic-parsley butter, croque monsieur, Pacific mussels in wine sauce, roasted chicken, omelettes, crêpes and tasty desserts. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

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On the Alley

117 HARBOR WAY
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93109
805.962.6315

7038 MARKET PLACE DRIVE
GOLETA, CA 93117
805.845.8096
ONTHEALLEY.COM


On the Alley began as an overflow place for Brophy Brothers. Locals especially like its casual feel, the reliability of its “simple, honest food” and the ease of grabbing something good to eat at the beach, on a bench by the sea wall or at the wood picnic table right in front. 

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Montecito Cafe

1295 COAST VILLAGE ROAD
MONTECITO, CA 93108
805.969.3392
MONTECITOCAFE.COM

The menu is a collection of the “tried and true,” changes little, because their many loyal patrons like it as it is. Favorites include fresh local seafood, superb steaks (try the black angus filet mignon), chicken with Anaheim chilies, nightly burger specials, alderwood-planked salmon, goat cheese pancakes and their signature coconut cake and super-light cheesecake. You won’t find “architectural” desserts or unpronounceable ingredients, but rather, real, finely prepared food made with the best ingredients and no shortcuts: everything from stocks to burger buns and desserts is made on the premises.

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Lucky's

1279 COAST VILLAGE ROAD
MONTECITO, CA 93108
805.565.7540
LUCKYS-STEAKHOUSE.COM

“We like to think we offer a classic steakhouse experience,” says Leonard Schwartz, executive chef and general manager of Lucky’s in Montecito. “What that means for us is that we want you to be very happy from the time you arrive until you’re ready to leave.” Here’s how that happens. Whether you’re a Montecito regular, a local out for a special occasion, or a visitor on vacation, you arrive at Lucky’s with high expectations. The staff appreciates that, and they work to make sure you have a warm, full experience. However you are dressed, you’re greeted warmly at the door and made to feel comfortable. You’re then shown to a table, where an attentive server takes care of you. You can order wine from an extensive list, with great choices at all prices, or a perfectly crafted cocktail, the kind befitting a fine steakhouse. Once you’ve settled in, you’re presented with a menu that “doesn’t have a lot of surprises on it and isn’t meant to,” says Schwartz. “It’s intended to satisfy the cravings people have at a steakhouse.” That includes ten cuts of prime corn-fed Midwestern beef, plus a daily grass-fed selection. Of course, you want it cooked exactly how you order it. Surprising to some are the several simply but carefully prepared fresh-fish selections: salmon, sand dabs, Dover sole, tuna, a daily special and fresh Maine lobster. You can choose from an assortment of best-in-category steakhouse sides, such as superb creamed spinach or delectable onion rings. From steaks to sides to an after-dinner Cognac, says Schwartz, “It’s important our guests have a good time. They’re making memories, and we want them to be good.”

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Louie's

1404 DE LA VINA
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.963.7003
LOUIESSB.COM

Louie’s has one of the best recommendations a restaurant can have: The fine-dining establishment in the 130-year-old Upham Hotel is a favorite among savvy locals, who return again and again for great food in an altogether pleasant setting. Anne Rizzoli and Trey Brooks own and operate Louie’s; both worked there for years before buying it six years ago. They updated the interior and turned the thirty-year-old restaurant room into the perfect blend of refinement and comfort, indoors and outdoors. “It’s both elegant and casual,” says Rizzoli. “Guests might come for appetizers and a glass of wine or a filet and a hundred-dollar bottle of wine for an anniversary dinner.”  Seated for lunch or dinner in the welcoming dining room or on the heated veranda, diners enjoy Tony Manzaneras’s delicious appetizers the freshest and best fish and shellfish, and prime steaks, pork chops and rack of lamb. Only the bread comes from a non-local purveyor, arriving fresh daily from renowned La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles. Two banquet rooms provide intimate dining for large groups. Wine is a specialty here, and as the evening sommelier, Trey guides guests through an extensive list of mostly Santa Barbara County wines, including a number of rare boutique bottlings. No wonder locals keep bringing out-of-town visitors, or just themselves, to Louie’s.

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Los Agaves

600 N. MILPAS STREET - 805.564.2626
2911 DE LA VINA STREET - 805. 682.2600
702 MARKETPLACE - 805.968.4000
LOSAGAVES.COM

Shortly after the first Los Agaves opened on Milpas Street in 2008, customers began lining up out the front door of the casual, comfortable, family-friendly restaurant, hungry for its terrific, beautifully presented regional Mexican food made with super-fresh, high-quality ingredients and no compromises. Think New York Prime beef and organic free-range chicken. And think efficient, friendly service, too. Since then, three more Los Agaves have opened - off Upper State Street, in Goleta, and the newest, in Westlake Village. That, says Carlos Luna, one of the brothers who own Los Agaves, will end the expansion for some time in order to maintain standards. “We prefer to stay small and reliable,” he says. “We want to continue to surpass expectations for many years to come.” The restaurant has a regular menu of favorites, plus a revolving list of regional daily specials. Some of them - salmon tropical, cochinita pibil, salmon tacos, and chile en nogada - are so popular that they rarely come off the menu.The new vegan menu includes enchiladas in a mushroom-based mole sauce; meatless plantain-filled taquitos; and vegetarian enchiladas.” Everything is made on site, and at the new Westlake location, customers can watch the tortillas being made by hand. A similar display is coming soon to Milpas. You should, too.

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Joe's Cafe

536 SANTA BARBARA STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.966.4638
JOESCAFESB.COM

Grab a booth on Saturday morning, and you’ll see a multi-generational parade of loyal locals arriving for generous, value-priced plates of eggs benedict, huevos la Mexicana, corned-beef hash, omelets and pancakes. The orange juice is freshly squeezed, the coffee is a house blend, the hash browns come straight from the spud. Lunchtime favorites include tri-tip and French dip sandwiches, grilled pastrami on rye; classic crab and Cobb salads, fish and chips, pot roast and lasagna. At supper time, Joe’s turns out a trio of steaks – New York, top sirloin and filet mignon – plus prime rib, meatloaf, short ribs, pork chops, chicken, halibut, salmon, broiled Pacific lobster, and much more. Prices are fair to a fault.

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Jill's Place

632 SANTA BARBARA STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.963.0378
jillsplacesb.com

Diners entering Jill’s Place for the first time might wonder why a track with meat hooks runs along the ceiling or why an array of sharpening steels hangs in a boxed display. Talk to Jill Shalhoob though - easy enough, since she’s always here checking on her loyal, mainly local, customers - and cast your eyes on the neon sign that reads “The Butcher’s Daughter,” and it all adds up. Those things are here because this unpretentious restaurant used to be her fathers’ butcher shop, and Jill essentially grew up here. After her dad expanded and moved, she opened a deli, then the restaurant. It’s all about roots, tradition and family, the kind of place visitors want to find - and sometimes do. Open from morning ’til night, Jill’s Place offers great values on perfectly cooked steaks, a sensational open-face meatloaf sandwich and plenty of burgers and other sandwiches, salads and comfort-food favorites like split pea soup and spaghetti Bolognese made according to Jill’s grandmother’s recipe. Jill’s dad taught her how to season and cut meat, and she still does. The coffee’s good, and the bar offers Happy Hour Cosmos and Martinis for $7. Order a mixed appetizer plate of steak, chicken and sausage bites, and settle in.

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Holdren's

512 STATE STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.965.3363
HOLDRENS.COM

Big booths line a brick wall on one side, a line of tables runs down the middle, and a long, hundred-year-old mahogany bar scarred by cigar burns from the days before ashtrays holds down the other wall. Here, the martinis are big, the bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable, and digging into a steak just feels right. A grilled artichoke or the spicy ahi tuna tartar are both popular warm-ups to the array of mesquite-grilled fresh seafood and corn-fed prime steaks ranging from a 6-ounce filet mignon to the house specialty, a 24 and 30-ounce bone-in cowboy-cut ribeye – not to mention, lobster, baby back ribs, and the servers’ favorite, a pork chop crusted with jalapeño-pepper jack cheese. Oh, and these aren’t a la carte entrées either or, as owner Clay Holdren says, “just meat on a plate; we want to give our customers value.” That means your steak or fish comes with soup or salad and sides. You will not leave hungry. There are more values among the 300 plus California wines, as well as some rare cult favorites, in the cellar that has earned a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. And when it’s time to sweeten up the night, don’t miss the s’mores, prepared by you with the help of a tabletop Hibachi “campfire.”

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Jane

1311 STATE STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.962.1311
JANERESTAURANTSB.COM

Jane is a family affair in the best sense. Jane Chapman runs the friendly, comfortable dining room with her parents, Mark and Margaret Huston, who have operated the Montecito Café together for 28 years. Open for lunch and dinner, it simply provides - an inviting atmosphere, carefully prepared food and genuinely friendly service. Upstairs are interior balcony tables and a popular private-party room. Next to the fireplace below, a communal table that seats 18 occupies the center of the room, with its warm-yellow walls, dark hardwood floors and open-beam ceilings. Jane is ideal for a pre-theatre bite, and you can practically step from your chair onto the red carpet for Santa Barbara film festival events at the Arlington Theatre, next door. And they like that everything at Jane is made from scratch daily on the premises. Stocks for sauces are cooked down from bones. Hamburger buns and sausage are made in-house. Specialties reflect the focus on ingredients, including the big “salad bowls” and “pasta bowls,” fabulous burgers, and wild-caught local fish, with seafood specials appearing twice daily, depending on what’s good at the harbor. To finish, don’t miss the Jane sundae — vanilla soft-serve ice cream with homemade toffee and caramel sauce. The prices are right, and the vibe is pure feel-good Santa Barbara.

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Globe

18 EAST COTA STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.324.4420

Globe, one of the newest additions to the Santa Barbara restaurant scene, is a heck of a lot of fun. And that’s just walking in. Here you are greeted not by the usual rows of restaurant tables, but rather a collection of highly idiosyncratic furniture: a scarlet Louis XIV sofa with (nearly) matching tufted ottoman, rococo mirrors, midnight-blue velvet arm chairs, low tables and vaguely Asian red-and-gold wallpaper. Arranged into vignettes that serve as cozy dining areas, the pieces hang together in a clearly articulated design sensibility that has elements of Gilded Age Paris, Barcelona boite, Moroccan souk - and then some. And that’s the point. Travel is adventure. Ditto food from other lands, foreign wines and even exotic beers. (Anyone for a Lucky Buddha from China?) Globe invites you to take your own little adventure a half-block off State Street. The comfortable surroundings are conducive to conversation, relaxation, slowing down, and taking your time. You can while away an afternoon or an evening here with drinks from the full bar (lined with high-backed stools with leopard-print cushions) or international wines while enjoying “small bites” in the tapas style, like lobster tacos, empanadas, English tea sandwiches, vegetable pot stickers, blackened filet mignon salad with blue cheese, and crème brûlée.
At Globe, the world seems to spin just a bit more slowly - more to your time.

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Fishouse

101 EAST CABRILLO BLVD.
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.966.2112
SBFISHOUSE.COM

FisHouse has built a huge following by offering ultra-fresh seafood, good drinks, an excellent happy hour, great prices and exactly the kind of friendly, casual atmosphere that beach volleyball players, fishermen, families, locals and visitors love. It’s an everyman sort of place where everyone feels welcome. “People use the bar as their office and their living room to watch every big game,” says owner Adam White, – and customer service is more than a motto: “If someone has something wrong, we apologize and fix it.” The FisHouse is also the only restaurant in town that has a fish receiver’s license from the California Department of Fish & Game, allowing Adam to buy crab, lobster, fish and shellfish right off the boat – no middleman. “It removes a step and means that you can be eating seabass that was swimming that morning,” Adam says. “When black cod, local king salmon and seabass are running, we keep a couple of fishermen going full time just for us.” Popular dishes include fresh-fish tacos; the fish and chips and fried calamari are standard bearers, and the steamed shellfish are first-rate. The macadamia nut–crusted seabass is a top seller, and look for vermillion snapper. “When we get them from the islands,” says Adam, “we serve then as a whole roasted fish.”

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Farmer Boy

3427 STATE STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.687.6584
FARMERBOY.COM

If you grew up in Santa Barbara’s San Roque neighborhood, you know Farmer Boy restaurant. It’s the classic American diner with all the standards. John Bennett, whose family’s restaurant group includes Brophy’s , Benchmark eatery, O.T.A and Arch Rock, has partnered with childhood friends - the Borgatellos and Boeddekers - to re-launch the upper State Street classic. “Not only did we grow up two blocks away from Farmer Boy, we all went to elementary school together,” Bennett says. Bennett describes the new Farmer Boy as “a fresh take on a classic diner,” but it was vital to the partners to maintain the bones and essence of the original. Ralph Karleskint [the original owner] is a close family friend, and the new ownership is honored to continue his legacy. The operation will be similar to Bennett’s other locations - casual, local, genuine and timeless. The operating partner is Danny Quinn, who runs several Bennett restaurants and understands the culture and the family’s commitment to service. “This is a romantic endeavor,” Bennett says. “Danny’s mom even waited tables here for over a decade.” There isn’t a restaurant operation in town more local than this new partnership.

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Downeys

1305 STATE STREET
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101
805.966.5006
DOWNEYSSB.COM

In Santa Barbara, the origins of the burgeoning farm-to-table movement date back not five or ten years, but more than thirty, to 1982, when John Downey opened his eponymous State Street restaurant. He soon became the first local chef to put the name of a farm - that of organic pioneer Tom Shepherd - on his menu, and Downey still scours the farmers markets seeking produce and inspiration for his daily-changing carte. “In the early days, there were only a few farmers and not a great variety, but now you can get practically anything grown in the universe,” he says. With fall approaching, the British chef, who has cooked for Queen Elizabeth and was mentored by James Beard, will be turning those unparalleled ingredients into fantastically comforting food prepared with care, precision and enthusiasm. Lobster ragout, available only for a few weeks in winter, features fresh-lobster stock, chunks of lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, smoked bacon, flageolets or other beans, tomatoes, leeks and white sea bass or other fish. Another cool-weather favorite, duck with cabernet sauce that’s a take on the French classic cassoulet, features tender duck with shakamaxon beans, caramelized onions and tomatoes. And Downey’s take on apple pie à la mode - warm pippin apples with butterscotch served between layers of puff pastry with homemade vanilla ice cream - is a modern classic.

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