Thursday, January 21, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 47
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Scratch Kitchen brings locally sourced food and libations to Lompoc

WENDY THIES SELL

Described by some as the restaurant Lompoc has been waiting for, Scratch Kitchen restaurant and wine bar opened for business on May 1.

“It’s a restaurant that Lompoc deserves,” replied co-owner and chef Augusto Caudillo. “We are fertilizing the epicurean desert that has been Lompoc for a long time, and we want to give Lompoc the restaurant that it deserves.”


LOCALLY OWNED
Chef Augusto Caudillo, in his superb new restaurant Scratch Kitchen and wine bar, located at 610 North H St., Lompoc.
PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

Centrally located on the town’s main drag, at 610 North H St., Scratch Kitchen underwent a dramatic renovation, transforming the former Don Pepe’s into an upscale rustic space, with new windows, stained concrete floors, and custom furniture created … from scratch.

The focal point inside Scratch Kitchen is the handsome reclaimed redwood and copper wine bar, where ultra premium local wines and craft beers are poured.

Local artisans also handcrafted the restaurant’s gorgeous communal table out of bowling lanes, old gears, and metal scraps.

Caudillo, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas, and his brother-in-law/business partner, chef Gonzalo Pacheco, had toyed around with the idea of opening a restaurant for years.

When Applebee’s opened in Lompoc a couple of years ago, Caudillo, a Lompoc resident, noticed the number of customers lined up out the door, and he realized that the city had a great need for more sit-down restaurants.

After working for Fess Parker at the former Restaurant Marcella in Los Olivos, at Lucky’s steakhouse in Montecito, and as sous chef for his culinary mentor, chef Maili Halme, Caudillo put his catering business on hold to open the restaurant.

The concept at Scratch Kitchen is locally sourced food made from scratch, hence the name.


SPECIAL RECIPE
The fabulous fried chicken with sautéed greens and mushroom sauce is one of the most popular dishes at Scratch Kitchen.
PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

Partners Caudillo and Pacheco collaborated on the menus, keeping them small with the aim of doing everything well; fresh salads, soup, a Bánh Mì sandwich, a chicken sandwich, and quiche for the lunch crowd; entrees such as grilled New York strip, seared seafood gnocchi, ahi crudo, and slow braised beef short ribs at dinnertime, and crab eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, a gravlax platter, prime rib, and fried chicken and waffles for Sunday brunch.

So far, the biggest seller on the lunch/dinner and brunch menu is the S.K. hamburger ($13), with caramelized onion-jalapeño jam, blue cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted house-made bun.

“We sell so many hamburgers that it is actually crazy,” Caudillo said. “We don’t buy frozen patties; we make each patty.”

Another popular entrée, available at lunch and dinner, is Maili’s Fried Chicken ($18), served with sautéed spinach and cabbage, and vegetable mushroom sauce; three pieces of incredibly crispy and moist chicken—an outstanding dish!


RESTAURANT REBIRTH
Lompoc artisans created the impressive communal table and reclaimed redwood wall and bar at the new Scratch Kitchen and wine bar.
PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

“It’s not just fried chicken: It’s the way fried chicken should really be served,” Caudillo declared.

He’s made this chicken recipe for more than 13 years with Chef Halme.

“We’ve perfected this recipe. We’ve worked on it for so long,” he said.

Scratch Kitchen starts out buying high quality chicken, which is soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours. The chicken then goes directly into a panko/flour mixture, but Caudillo said the key is adding “a little bit of baking powder” to the mix.

“Then it really becomes crisp and adheres to the chicken and it comes out beautiful.”

Scratch Kitchen is first a restaurant, second a wine bar.

“The restaurant is locally sourced. It was equally important for us to do the same with the wines and beers,” Caudillo said. “Our area, in my opinion, is producing some of the best wines in the nation, so why source from somewhere else?”

Lompoc fine dining
Scratch Kitchen restaurant and wine bar is located at 610 North H St., Lompoc. Hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The phone number is 819-0829. The restaurant’s website is scratch-kitchen.com.

The wine list features almost exclusively Santa Barbara County wineries, such as Babcock, Ampelos, Fiddlehead, Palmina, Flying Goat, Transcendence, Kessler-Haak, Kita, Press Gang Cellars, Brander, and Dierberg.

Scratch Kitchen plays host to local winemakers, offers wine and beer flights, and recently started a special “blind flight” contest, for anyone up for the challenge.

“You get to taste three wines, labels are blacked out, you’ll get a tasting note sheet, and if you guess all three wine varietals, I will give you a $50 gift card,” said Caudillo. “We’re trying to make it fun and to make people’s experience here fun and unique.”

“We are just really pleased to be here, and we’re honored by the support that our community has given to us,” Caudillo continued. “We’re humbled that people keep coming in and that my parking lot is full every night.”

 

Sun food and wine columnist Wendy Thies Sell writes her articles from scratch. Contact her at wthies@santamariasun.com.










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