Passport to International Wine & Food at Les Marchands

It was such a pleasure to enjoy a leisurely dinner in the inviting restaurant-bar area of Les Marchands, where Chef Weston Richards was serving a 'Passport to Germany: Baden and Pfalz' set menu for guests during October that was paired with fine wine from the renowned Les Marchands collection. The European-style restaurant and retail wine shop is located in the middle of the popular Funk Zone in Santa Barbara, just next door to The Lark restaurant.

Restaurant View

I love this intimate room, and the outside garden as well, for its welcoming atmosphere and friendly service. It is an ideal place for catching up with friends or a great date night dinner spot, with walls filled with fine wines and divine small plates to savor. I find it very reminiscent of many little French restaurants in Paris that I've visited over the years. The designers have managed to bring a stylish warmth to a shell of a building using artistic lighting fixtures, a European looking bar, wall of wine and cozy cafe style tables and chairs.

Chef Weston Richards

Chef Weston Richards has a long culinary career in Santa Barbara that began over 16 years ago at Santa Barbara's Sage & Onion. From there, he began to shine at Wine Cask and its sister restaurant Intermezzo, creating dishes to complement their Grand Award winning Wine Spectator list of wines. Later, he founded the critically acclaimed Spare Parts, a hot popup spot. Richards was integral in opening Les Marchands, his current home, and has directed the show for four years+. His menu is greatly influenced by time he spent in Rome, Tuscany and Naples Italy, as well as North African cuisine of Morocco and Tunisia. His menu at Les Marchands is diverse and seasonally inspired.

Bacon Toast with Wine

Our Germany: Baden & Pfalz passport dinner began with house-made bacon toast charred sourdough, crescenza, caramelized onion with arugula served with a delicious a glass of Dr Heger, 2014, Baden Silvaner, Ihringer Winkelberg, followed by an entree of crispy pork cheeks on caraway spatzle, roasted mushrooms, crème friache and watercress to savor slowly with a glass of 2016 Pinot Noir, Becker Rechtenbacher Erstes Gewachs, from Pfalz, Germany.

Crispy Pork Cheeks

These dishes reminded me of menu items found in small villages I visited in June while cruising on the Rhine. The divine ending to this German surprise dinner was a dark chocolate mousse with sour cherries, chocolate streusel and cinnamon cherry chantilly paired with Rieslander, Gimmeldinger Schlossel, Muller-Catoir 2016, Pfalz, and it was sehr herrlich (very delightful).

Dark Chocolate Mouse

Les Marchands is presenting unique passport dinners with food & wine pairings from various destinations as an opportunity for patrons and guests to savor the amazing international and local wines available, along with experience the versatile talent of chef Richards. If this German dinner is an example of what can be expected I feel certain guests will be very pleased with this around the world destination dining experience.

For menu information and reservations visit or call 805-28-0380.

By Bonnie Carroll

About Bonnie Carroll
Bonnie Carroll has been a food/travel/lifestyle writer since 1983. She is the founder & publisher of Bonnie Carroll's Life Bites News -, does travel and food reporting on KZSB1290 radio, and contributes to a variety of national and international travel/lifestyle publications. Her first children's book C.C. Charles was published in 2002 and she is currently working on a second book. Contact her at Contact her at


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