If you’ve ever wondered what the best seat in the Wine Cask’s (813 Anacapa St., winecask.com) magnificent Gold Room might be (short of near the fireplace on a chill evening), that question is easily answered now—at the new Chef’s Counter where the bar used to be. You get a bit of elevation to scan the room, but even better, you get to indulge in Chef Brandon Hughes’s weekly market-driven three-course menus paired with regional wines. A recent tasting kicked off with a spectacular baked corvina in papillote—the perfectly cooked fish, aswim in some butter and diatom chardonnay—alongside sweetly wee-sized baby vegetables. And then there was a slab of pork belly that was almost overindulgent, sitting upon a split-pea puree that was everything you might dream of spring.
Hughes comes out of the kitchen to chat, too, so you might pick up a procuring or cooking tip. The meal ends with something scrumptious from Pastry Chef Rosie Gerard, who likes a bit of savory with her sweets and never fails to please. The counter menus are rewritten each week, and available only Monday through Thursday. Three courses and three wines are $65. Reservations are required, so call 966-9463.