Characteristic of sister property Industrial Eats in Buellton, Eye on I features a glowing wood-fired pizza oven, plethora of exotic dishes made from locally sourced ingredients and a colorful menu inscribed daily on brown butcher paper pinned to the shop's wall.
While Eye on I's menu might feature fare that is uncustomary to the Lompoc Valley, restaurant manager and menu co-creator Heather Hovey believes locals are eager to learn and try new things.
"We're just trying to do stuff that people don't normally get around here," she said, noting that all produce is sourced from local farmers. "We're cooking with the seasons."
Hovey explained that all proteins are made in-house, including the sausage and bacon. The chicken is cured in a Koji rice marinade, a Japanese product that requires a multistep process and also is responsible for producing sake and soy sauce.
Homemade dog biscuits on display at the front counter are locally sourced — comprised of eggs gathered from Lompoc's Motley Crew Ranch and ground bone, chicken and duck stock from Mary's free range chicken farms located on the Central Coast.
One new menu item not yet tested by Hovey but familiar to local restaurateur, Eye on I shop owner and renowned chef Jeff Olsson will make it to the brown butcher paper as a fresh new offering: anticuchos. A sort of kabob, the traditional Peruvian dish calls for beef heart that is diced and marinated, flame-broiled on a skewer and served with peanut sauce.
"At first people were coming in asking, 'Why am I paying $16 for a pizza?' 'Where's the ranch,' 'Where's the wings,' but to see that they are liking it and coming back is pretty cool," she said. "It's pretty neat to see how people are responding."
Besides serving memorable eats, staff are committed to reducing food waste, according to Hovey, who previously worked at Industrial Eats.
"We try to use everything so there is no waste; we want to be that kind of place — like [Industrial] Eats, but we're not Eats," Hovey said. "I learned it from working at Industrial Eats — we tried not to throw stuff away. We would ask ourselves, 'Where is the food waste?' and 'How can we use everything?'"