Korean-style chicken wings aren't the only thing on Chef Cindy Black's new dinner menu.

For Every Owl

Dinner at The Blue Owl

Revisit our December 2013 feature about Cindy Black here

It’s been about 10 weeks since the Blue Owl had every seat occupied for its dinner launch on April 7. Forks clamored. Diners slurped Chinese pulled noodles. Champagne flutes clinked, filled with beer and wine cocktails. Now that it’s turning towards summer, chef Cindy Black has added a few more items to her 5:30–9pm menu.

Co-chef Toi Dennis making a mango salad.

Co-chef Toi Dennis making a mango salad.

Since the launch, Cindy says she’s seen a steady flow of people. Like clockwork, at 7pm dinners approach the ordering counter in throngs in anticipation of being able to nosh on Korean barbecue wings and other Asian inspired fare without having to wait until midnight. “We have to train people to learn that we’re open during this time with this new menu,” says Cindy. “The dinner crowd has been fun. It’s a very different pace from lunch because people have more than one hour to spend.”

Cindy and her co-chef Toi Dennis said their new beer and wine license prompted the idea for a dinner menu. So far, the two most popular items have been the Chinese pulled noodles and the biscuits and chicken. Couples will often come in and order one of each to share, and Cindy teasingly calls it “the combo pack.”

Chinese pork pulled noodles

Chinese pork pulled noodles

Cindy makes the Chinese pulled noodles two ways: a vegetarian option with tofu and mushrooms and a pork option. The pork version combines savory and spicy with toasted sesame and cilantro in a sauce with pork jus for a complex flavor that builds with each bite. Cindy makes the flour-based noodles twirling and stretching the noodles out with her hands then separating and creating the noodles by running her fingers through the dough while constantly stretching. The combination of sensations of flavors on the tongue, slurping up the soupy noodle, the snap of the snow peas and cabbage and the texture makes for a fun experience. It’s the best way to play with food.

Recently, Toi and Cindy added dessert: a chocolate bread pudding and a strawberry “shortcake,” made with biscuits not cake. Toi spent countless hours perfecting the savory-sweet, flaky crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside buttermilk biscuit. It is surprisingly light and comes topped with a mixed berry sauce, mulberries, blueberries, strawberries, vanilla whipped cream, mint and basil. It’s just the right amount of sweetness to end a meal without feeling weighted down. She plans on swapping out the fruits as the seasons change. She also wants to change the bread pudding to something more summery, like a matcha tea bread pudding.

Berry shortcake

Berry shortcake

The two will also introduce new wine and beer cocktails as well as breakfast for dinner options while changing the salads seasonally. Their current salad is a mango-mint salad with sugar peas, black sesame seeds, peanuts, Napa cabbage and mixed greens, topped with a tahini dressing. With each bite, there’s the crunch from the peanuts, the earthiness from the mint, the sweet-tart from the mango and the sesame seeds provide a pleasing finish. The tahini sauce is subtle, but brings it all together.

Other items include a shrimp and halibut ceviche with shredded coconut, Korean-style fried chicken wings and shrimp guacamole. Dinner is offered Wednesday-Saturday, 5:30–9pm, offering something for every owl: morning, noon, evening and night.

Revisit our December 2013 feature about Cindy Black here

Urmila Ramakrishnan is a freelance writer and Edible Santa Barbara writing fellow from The Culinary Trust. She lives to eat, drink, write and experiment with leftovers. Follow her writing and sports adventures on her blog Jiu-Jitsu and Jalebi or follow her on Twitter.

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