Bar Le Côte Brings “Ranchish” Fare to California Wine Country
An exclusive sneak peek at the recipes from the hottest restaurant opening in Los Olivos, California, this summer.
How do you serve impeccably fresh fish in a landlocked town? You dry-age it. That’s the secret to the whole roasted sea bream and beautifully composed kampachi crudo on the menu at Bar Le Côte in the sleepy wine-country town of Los Olivos, California. The brand-new restaurant from Greg and Daisy Ryan (of Bell’s in Los Alamos fame) and chef Brad Mathews (formerly of Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach) sources some of its seafood from the Joint Eatery, a restaurant/seafood market in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.
Here Liwei Liao has perfected a dry-aging process in which fresh fish is aged, much like a prime steak, in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment, losing water weight, developing a more nuanced and complex flavor, and firming up just so. The results are exquisite and have earned Liao a cult following among L.A. sushi aficionados for the chirashi boxes he sells.
Daisy’s dad, a roving antiques dealer, adds the Joint to his regular jaunts to the city to shuttle fish to Bar Le Côte. It’s the sort of homespun and creative solution typical of the Ryans, who, in just two years, transformed Bell’s from a solid Central Coast country restaurant to a full-fledged food-obsessive destination serving French-inflected California coastal cuisine (with a perpetually long waiting list to get in).
Daisy and Greg dubbed the food they serve at Bell’s “Franch,” a combination of French and ranch. Following that logic, you could call the food at Bar Le Côte “Ranchish,” as in ranch plus Spanish. Iberian influences abound on the menu: Manila clams and chorizo, shrimp with garlic, bomba rice, Spanish-style octopus, all boldly flavored and presented beautifully and unfussily—just the kind of food we want to cook and eat in summer. We rolled up the coast right before they opened to bring you a few of their recipes so you can try your hand at their magic at home—while you wait for that reservation to come through.