9.27.2012

Dining Out Paleo: Scarlett Begonia

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
 
Every Thursday I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to my Paleo lifestyle, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.

I tend to get a little wild with my Yelp searches, but Yelp has yet to disappoint when I am in hot pursuit of good food.  In my most recent quest for a Dining Out Paleo subject, I entered "locavore" into the search field and waited for the results.  Nothing.  Apparently restaurants in Rosamond aren't known for their in-season local produce or farm fresh, pastured eggs.  Great hearty breakfasts?  Certainly.  Seasonal, local, and farm-to-table fresh?  Not so much.

Fully prepared for a bit of a drive, I expanded my search to agriculturally dense Ventura.  I then narrowed it to the only restaurant open for breakfast.  Bonus for being rated 4.5 stars from fellow Yelpers.  Scarlett Begonia was a clear winner for my Dining Out Paleo breakfast.


The tidbit of info that assured my visit was Scarlett Begonia's dog-friendly policy.  Dogs are welcome on the patio!  Volt and I hopped in the car, leash and water bowl in hand and paw, and set out on our incredibly scenic 2.5 hour drive to get breakfast in Santa Barbara.



After a short wait and a quickly lapped up bowl of water, Volt and I were seated in a quaint courtyard with bright yellow umbrellas and matching place settings.  I was offered three menus - drinks, meals, house baked goodies - and Volt was offered another bowl of water and his very own cookie.



I had come for eggs and fruit, but upon reviewing the incredible selection of fresh salads, I decided to go for the luncheon veggies instead.  I ordered the Kale Caesar Salad, no croutons, add a poached egg.

After taking my order, the server brought a breakfast amuse - homemade granola, dried cranberries, Greek yogurt, all topped with a blackberry that I was certain was going to punch me in the face if I tried to touch it.  Seriously, that behemoth piece of fruit was a little intimidating.  And tasty!  I picked through the fruits and tasted the yogurt and granola.  Not Paleo.  Although texturally appetizing, I wished I had a dining partner with opposable thumbs to whom I could've passed this over.


My kale salad arrived with bright giant pieces of fresh kale, sliced avocado, pine nuts, thick crispy bacon, a poached egg, shaved Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing.  A salad that can be easily tweaked for personal tastes - hold the cheese, dressing on the side, etc.  The contrasts between the hot creamy egg, the cool creamy avocado, and the cold crisp kale were fantastic.  The flavors were bright and delicious and I couldn't have been more thrilled with my breakfast choice.


I also ordered a side of the house made sausage.  It was brought to the table with a drizzle of real maple syrup.  The sausage was bold and full of flavor and my dew-clawed dining partner seemed to approve of my selection.



It was a nice leisurely breakfast.  I took my time savoring my meal and basking in the cool coastal weather.  I overheard my server explain to the table next to me how the produce had been purchased just the previous day at the farmers market and that the Stone Fruit Salad and the Heirloom Tomato Panzanella were both noted items containing the late summer farmers market freshness. 

After our delightful dining experience, Volt and I took a short walk around State Street.  We passed by lush foliage, whimsical boutiques, and even more quaint patio-ed restaurants.  Then we crawled back into the car and made our way home.


As temperatures drop and fall flavors make their way into kitchens, I'm eager to go back and see what seasonal items adorn the menu at Scarlett Begonia for the autumn months.  One of my favorite things about living in California is the access to local, organic food year-round.  It may require a bit of a drive, but so far it has always been worth it!





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