Ranch & Coast Magazine

February 2024

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Even with the dining room's lovely, floral mural work, Valentina's black-and-white environs could come across a bit bleak were it not for the droves of coastal denizens adding unique local color. Diners give off an air of familiarity suggesting regular status as they discuss this, that, and the other thing from tiered, sheet-white banquettes. In the adjoining bar, the roar of the cross-street Coaster can barely be heard above the jovial buzz bouncing off walls covered in subway tiles and a collection of bric-a-brac so random (a ram's skull, biker helmet, life ring) it's a sure bet each piece has its own entertaining backstory. While one may never learn why a mounted bust of a Tyrannosaurus rex oversees barroom proceedings, visitors are sure to be on the receiving end of numerous stories told by friendly staffers eager to share background on dishes and their preparations, Executive Chef Jonathan Freyberg's acumen, and individual wines from Valentina's 120-bottle program. e collection leans heavily into Spanish producers and includes a Grenache-based rosé cava ( Jané Ventura) that's worth a visit on its own as well as an outstanding, bone-dry orange wine (Kiki & Juan) fashioned from Macabeo, a varietal typically used to produce sparkling vino. Valentina's menu is split between an array of tapas and roughly half a dozen mains. Each list changes with the seasons, while retaining mainstay signature dishes like Patatas Bravas, potatoes soaked in milk then sliced extremely thin and stacked into cubes that are fried to a deep, dark brown. A generous dollop of smoked paprika aioli brings richness while a heavy sprinkling of finely minced chives adds an element of uplifting freshness. Another garnish adding more than a pop of green are the scallions atop an artfully presented, thinly sliced octopus carpaccio. rowaways anywhere else, they introduce bright pepperiness to a lovely dish rendered further verdant by a potent oregano-infused olive oil. Fresh oysters, shrimp in spicy garlic oil (Gambas al Ajillo), and toast wrapped with acorn-fed Iberico ham are house favorites. ey are joined by blistered shishitos, steak tartare with an egg yolk and pickled mustard seeds, escargot baked in bone marrow butter, and tamarind-glazed quail. Plump and salty, the quail is a play on sweet-and-spicy barbecue that comes across a bit like soy sauce with a touch of fruity acidity and is worth getting one's fingers messy to get every bit of meat off those ever-so-tiny bones. Mains are varied from a cultural influence with seafood-studded Spanish Arroz del Senyoret (gentleman's rice) sharing space with << ranchandcoast.com 56 FEBRUARY 2024 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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