The Canary Hotel’s website describes the new Finch & Fork, formerly Coast, as a corner grill, and they really mean it. After years of having to enter the restaurant via the hotel’s driveway, the main entrance is now on the corner of Carrillo and Chapala, a clear sign locals are more than welcome. “It’s a casual setting for social dining and a family environment that caters to being able to relax,” is how executive chef James Siao puts it. “We hope locals and guests can have great conversations together over cocktails.”
The esteemed Kimpton chain has slowly been working on this revamp, which Siao calls a “gradual transition. We’re keeping some local favorites [from the Coast menu] like the flatbreads and blistered shishitos … But we are also stressing the Kimpton standards — local ingredients, the simplicity of our food, keeping the genuineness of our product, whether from the Farmers Market or the harbor.”
New to the menu are The Dailies, similar to blue-plate specials, but with weekly or seasonal twists. Siao explains, “Wednesday is Pork and Cork night — a different kind of pork cut or method of cooking paired with a different wine each week. We get to be creative and have some playfulness.” The same is true for Friday’s seafood potpie: “It could be gumbo, chowder, bouillabaisse, but in the same format with our house-made puff pastry.”
Another hallmark of the new menu is its ability to pair well with cocktails and local wines and beers. “That’s what’s great about this industry,” Siao exclaims, “brainstorming with the people you work with, having open tastings and pairings with wines and beers. It makes you think, ‘What else can go with this?’” Daily tastings, Siao says, allow “the staff to know what they’re serving and how to pair it.”
Siao, who came to this Kimpton after seven years at a sister property, the FireSky Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, says his move means adapting “to what Santa Barbara has to offer, from farms to the small-town feel. At the Farmers Market, it’s great to see the farmers, but it’s also great to see the locals, the colorful atmosphere that represents Santa Barbara. We want to be part of the community and do some community work.” One part of that will be taking part in the upcoming Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation benefit.
Future plans include Saturday late-night happy hours and Sangria Sunsets with live music starting this summer. Siao sums up, “We’re working on making Finch & Fork a great establishment where you can come in more than once a week to have a drink and a snack at the bar or dine at a table and have flatbreads or trout.” Not just any trout: grilled rainbow trout with leek and barley risotto, golden raisin compote, and crispy kale.
Settle in for some food and fun at Finch & Fork at the Canary (31 W. Carrillo St.). For more info, call (805) 879-9100 or visit finchandforkrestaurant.com.