As finals season approaches, it’s important to remember to take a break from the books, and what better place to do that than in downtown Santa Barbara? Treat yourself and your friends to a weekend brunch at Finch & Fork, home to clean, simple dishes inspired by seasonal California cuisine. It’s conveniently located on Carrillo Street right by Paseo Nuevo, making it the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal before shopping (which is exactly what we did). We arrived at the restaurant at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday and were promptly seated at the terrace. We noticed that the terrace had large windows that let in plenty of sunlight, and the table arrangement made the room feel very open. The terrace was an excellent spot to dine at for brunch, and the dining room and bar on the other side of the restaurant seemed very cozy and sophisticated, which would be great for a dinner date. We admired the notably crafted environment of the restaurant, but we were even more impressed when we got a taste of the food. We wanted to obtain the full experience of Finch & Fork’s weekend brunch, so we ordered breakfast, lunch and dessert items.
To start off, we tried the Deviled Eggs with smoked trout, pickled shallot and olive relish. We appreciated the visual artistry of the appetizer; all the colors of the dish stood out to make our mouths water. Despite being soaked in beet juice to acquire their vibrant magenta color, the eggs retained their flavor and we couldn’t taste any beets at all, which was a plus. The filling was creamy, but the real highlight of the dish was the smoked trout. Without the fish, this would’ve tasted similar to other deviled eggs we’ve tried in the past, but the smoky flavor from the fish gave it the kick it needed to make us hungry for more.
As for the breakfast items, we tried the Short Rib and Sweet Potato Hash as well as the Roasted Pork Belly Benedict. The Short Rib and Sweet Potato Hash was topped with sunny-side-up eggs, fresh horseradish and a chimichurri sauce. The fresh horseradish and chimichurri sauce was what made this dish really stand out. They both brought a sweet and savory flavor that paired nicely with the short rib. In particular, the horseradish provided a refreshing taste that helped cut out the fattiness from the meat. The short rib was very tender, falling apart by the fork. It was also a generous amount for a breakfast item.
The Roasted Pork Belly Benedict seemed like a restaurant favorite as our server highly recommend it. The dish was a different take on the egg benedict, as it used pork belly instead of canadian bacon and added a twist to the hollandaise. It also came with a side of home fries that is worth highlighting because they were very light and not oily as many restaurants tend to make them. The crispy pork belly paired nicely with the whole dish. The chipotle hollandaise added a spicy touch while not overwhelming the dish. The eggs were perfectly poached and the muffin tasted very fresh. On its own, the muffin had a sweet and pillowy taste. It managed to not become soggy even after being topped with egg yolk and sauce. When we were cutting through the dish, we were surprised by how easy it felt; nothing fell apart or was too tough.
We also ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich from the lunch menu, which was more than impressive. The crisp, garlic fries alone were delicious when paired with the jalapeno aioli, and the burger was an exquisite symphony of flavors and textures. The chicken had a thin batter, making it extra crispy while retaining the moisture of the meat inside. The fresh-tasting kale slaw and pickles offered a nice flavor contrast to the chicken, while the pillowy toasted buns provided a soft exterior to each bite. The smoked honey mustard sauce tied everything together, which made this the best chicken sandwich my friends and I have ever had before.
In addition to the food, we also tried one of the pressed juices Finch & Fork offers. After lengthy consideration (they all sounded so delicious!), we decided on the Santa Barbara, which is made with pineapple, orange, apple, strawberry, lemon and mint. The fruity flavors complemented our food nicely, and the drink overall was light and refreshing, especially with the hint of mint flavor at the end of each sip. We would definitely come back to try the rest of the pressed juices, as the Santa Barbara was a perfect pair to our delicious brunch.
To end our meal, we shared the Fire Roasted Milk Shake, made with a blend of caramelized banana and McConnell’s vanilla ice cream. The shake was drizzled with salted caramel, dusted with crushed graham cracker and topped off with a toasted meringue. The shake had a very frothy texture; however, it did not weigh us down after finishing it. Still, we recommend sharing it unless you have a major sweet tooth. The shake presented a very warm, autumn feel and was a perfect finish to our meal.
Winnie Lam currently serves as the On The Menu Co-Editor. She has been apart of the Nexus since 2017.