Would a cassoulet by any other recipe taste as sweet?
It might if you’re used to being enticed by the oak grill smells that waft about the intersection of Anacapa and Ortega. Paradise Café offers something simply called Grilled Shrimp and Sausage ($15.95), but simple it isn’t. Not that it’s complex. But it surprises.
There are the cannellini beans, which could be too soupy, too soft, too hard. But these are creamy, smooth, not mush, full of long-simmered flavor. They yoke together the plate’s stars — those oak-grilled shrimp, crusted with char and just to the point of too much salt, but not too and the chicken sausage, also grilled, full of fowl-ness in the best sense and magnificently moist. The sautéed baby spinach isn’t just an afterthought but brightness on the palate and the plate, plus you want your vegetables, don’t you?
Wash it down with a glass of tempranillo or maybe a rosé if the weather warms, and you will realize how fantastically Santa Barbara can take European traditions, give them a delicious twist, and make you darn glad you’re here.
702 Anacapa St., 805-962-4416, paradisecafe.com