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Sep 7, 2008 10:47 AM

Santa Barbara: Petit Valentin (La Arcada Court)

PETIT VALENTIN - La Arcada Court, downtown off State Street:

Excuse my spelling if this is incorrect, but this is the new French based restaurant located in the side alley of La Arcada Court off the Art Museum 1100 block of State Street between East Figueroa and East Anapamu - wonderfully charming and quiet location, outdoor tables, open feeling dining room with many small tables.

First impressions all favorable: attentive, thoughful service, varied menu, good prices for this downtown location and the food was really very good. Light but highly flavorful saucing, splendid appetizers and a very memorable dessert. This was a Saturday night and they were busy so we were lucky to get a walk in reservation around 6:30pm. You can also sit and dine at the bar so this is a great place for solo diners to drop in without reservations.

We ordered: Appetizers -escargot crepe, mushroom crostini; Main course -sole with capers; poussin with lemongrass and ginger; Dessert - chocolate marquis mousse, chocolate almond flourless cake.

Portion size was restrained and very adequate, presentation lovely and the only non-success was the flourless chocolate almond cake which was a little dry but had good basics in its ingredients. The chocolate marquis mousse hit it out of the ballpark as it was so smooth, rich, dense and chocolaty so that just might be the place to stop on the nice dessert menu. Or to even go in for just itself.

With two glasses of wine (many wines $6 a glass, a new low for SB?) we had a nice, what they list as an "Interesting Red" from Austria and walked away for under $80 (tip not included, but happily paid to our very nice waiter)

Chef gained his experience in East Coast French restaurants, did a detour in Bakersfield and then opened in this wonderful downtown Santa Barbara location about a year ago. Bakersfield??? Who would have guessed. Word of mouth is making this little gem a success.

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  1. From the East Coast (LI) and only wish he didnt leave us. His restaurant was an amazing gift to the Island!!!

      1. re: ChrisG.PersonalChef

        Still getting very good reports:

        One of Santa Barbara's little sleeper restaurants in a wonderful location. Our second trip back was as good as the first. French as become a new addition to our local dining scene with both this one and Renaud's French Bakery which is over the top excellent. There is a French trained chef on our local community college culinary school faculty and lots of exchange programs between the programs students and french culinary schools.

        The traditions of french dining live in Santa Barbara and now hopefully in the hearts of future culinary students as well. Santa Barbara after all was were Julia Childs spent her winters and she was very active in the local culinary scene. She won my heart when she said if you don't like so much butter, substitute cream.