“This restaurant feels like everything I have been working for my entire career,” says Bar Le Côte Executive Chef and Co-Owner Brad Mathews. An alumni of Fishing With Dynamite, Mathews opened Bar Le Côte alongside Los Alamos’ Greg and Daisy Ryan of Bell’s this summer. Working with the Ryans to bring Bar Le Côte to life was a natural fit for Mathews, who says the three of them “all believe in each other so much and also trust one another that it made this decision a no brainer.”
Tucked away in California Central Coast’s Los Olivos, Bar Le Côte is, at its heart, a seafood tavern. The space, designed by Daisy and Helvey Design Studio, brims with energy as dishes like the Heirloom Tomato “Aguachile,” which uses tomatoes from Santa Ynez’s family-owned Finley Farms, and Pulpo a la Plancha—with Spanish octopus, fingerling potatoes, frisée and saffron aioli—hit tables.
“[Bar Le Côte] is meant to be a space where you can drink great wine, eat fresh and exciting seafood, listen to great music, and enjoy stellar service,” Mathews says. The team works in unison, from the front doors where General Manager Grace Gates can be seen welcoming guests, to the open kitchen where Mathews along with Executive Sous Chef Luis Hernandez Gomez move in rhythm with each other. “Every single member of both the kitchen and service team are here because they absolutely want to be,” says Mathews. “We have a crew of intelligent, hardworking and talented individuals who are absolutely committed to the process and to the success of this restaurant.”
In this installation of What’s the Dish, we spoke to Mathews about Bar Le Côte’s Dry Aged Kampachi Crudo. This crudo made an appearance on the Bar Le Côte pop-up menu at Rustic Canyon this summer, and upon opening, has cemented its place on their full menu. Though simple, this dish sets the stage for what Bar Le Côte offers: refined seafood prepared intentionally with local ingredients by a team who makes it feel like they are welcoming you into their home.
What are the dish’s ingredients? How is the dish prepared?
The Dry Aged Kampachi is sliced and served raw over an avocado purée that is seasoned with a generous amount of fresh lime juice and salt. The dish is garnished with thinly-shaved red radish, some beautiful olive oil that is infused with saffron, and marigold or nasturtium that we grow here on the property at Bar Le Côte.
What was the concept or inspiration behind creating this dish?
The concept behind this dish was to find a way to marry fresh, simple California cuisine with Mediterranean flavors.
Where do you source the ingredients in this dish from?
[We use] dry-aged Kampachi from The Joint Eatery in Sherman Oaks. Liwei Liao has mastered the technique of dry-aging the beautiful Kampachi from La Paz, Mexico. The product has an incredibly clean but delicate and firm texture. It is truly a special piece of fish. The radishes and avocados come from the local farmers market and the marigold we grow and harvest daily.
Working with Liwei to steer the fish program at Bar Le Côte has been an exciting journey. We are in constant communication. As Bar Le Côte grows and gets busier, we have to anticipate our product usage about two weeks in advance in order to make sure we can age the Kampachi properly before we use it.
Why is this dish important to your restaurant?
I think this dish is important to Bar Le Côte because it is simple, beautiful and refined. Simply prepared seafood is the core of what we do. We are so lucky to have outstanding relationships with oyster farms, fishermen (and women) and talented seafood specialists like Liwei all over the country. In my opinion, cooking is truly the easiest part of the journey. I feel lucky to use such incredible products on a day-to-day basis.