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ehmeadow

Santa Barbara

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I'll be in Santa Barbara for one night and we are deciding between dinner at Wine Cask, Nu and Sage and Onion. We want something with a lively atmosphere but sophisticated food. I've looked at past threads and at the menus of each, but wanted to see what people say when having to choose between the three.

Can't wait to hear what your thoughts are!

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Sage & Onion was always my favored stop through Santa Barbara...

The last time I was there was in the springtime when the chef had just gotten fresh fiddlehead ferns which came on a salad, accompanied with the most perfect English Pea and Fennel Soup (very spring-like). Great strawberry/rhubarb tartlett for dessert.

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chef at Nu was chef at Wine Cask for 8 or 10 years. give him a try.

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My ultra-foodie friend who lives in Ojai says this:

I would say for them to go to Nu if they want sophisticated and hip. Wine cask is "older" feeling...Sage & Onion is not that inspired (sadly)...it's ok but nothing like NU.

Edited by tanabutler (log)

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Does the San Ysidro Ranch match any of the above listed necessities?? Hip, I am not so sure about, and sophisticated either, as I don't work there anymore and don't know the chef or the menu, but it isn't too far from SB and has a killer view with an awesome garden (while I was there at least).

Ore

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Thank you for all of the suggestions. We ended up having a six-course tasting dinner at Sage and Onion and it was fantastic. Fresh local asparagus soup, Santa Barbara Abalone with Garnet Yam Hash and white truffle butter, Foie Gras, Alaskan Halibut with white corn and fava succotash with a tomato fondue (my favorite course), venison with a blueberry, syrah reduction and a wild berry soufle.

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I don't know if we hit Sage & Onion on an off night, but this Sunday night it was very off. Our waitress was a doll, but nothing else was remotely on.

First, we tried a sample of the wine she recommended. It was corked. This wasn't their fault, but unfortunately presaged what was to come.

The amuse bouche was a saki-cup-sized portion of creame of broccoli soup, which was a bit salty and wholly uninteresting.

Our starters were the foie gras and a stilton cheese souffle.

The foie gras was watery and flavorless, somewhat undercooked, and was paired with a sauce that was extremely heavy and salty, and which would have completely overpowered even the best foie.

The souffle was very odd and at first seemed appealing. It was a small, individual souffle, hugely puffed up and crisp. The puffed up part had almost no flavor of any kind, and only a trace of stilton could be detected in the center of the souffle. It was paired with a cloyingly sweet, very salty, relish-like sauce.

For mains, I had ordered the duck breast and my companion the bacon-wrapped beef fillet. When they arrived we each took a bite and simultaneously said "this is too salty to eat."

I explained the situation to our sever, and she didn't seem entirely shocked. She said we could order something else if we wanted, or if not that everything was comped. We chose the latter option and went elsewhere (leaving a dinner-sized tip). She was a total sweetie.

The chef in charge that night was female, so definitely not the executive chef or sous chef listed on their web site (sageandonion.com). Perhaps she was new and having an off night. It does happen...

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I will be in Santa Barbara next weekend and I'm looking for somewhere tasty to take my brother (UCSB student) out to dinner. Anything from cheapo to $18-20 entrees is within my range. We're both serious about good food, but it needs to be unpretentious enough that a 20 and 23-yr-old wouldn't feel out of place. Any cuisine is fine; most important is that it be good food prepared with love and care. Local seafood would be great...


Edited by Jesse A (log)

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The perky Rachael Ray had a $40 day in SB recently. Maybe check her choices if you don't get a better idea:

episode AD1A13

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

230 Stearns Wharf

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Tel: (805) 966-6676

Camino Real Cafe

6980 Marketplace Drive

Santa Barbara, CA 93117

Tel: (805) 961-4777

(close to campus)

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Within your parameters, I would suggest Olio e Limone; it's just good, ingredient-forward food and, while they do have white tableclothes, it's small and owner-operated and I can't imagine anyone who is serious about food feeling uncomfortable there.

While you're there, one of Julia Child's [RIP] favorite places was La Super-Rica Tacqueria -- I have to have lunch there every time I visit. You can eat like a king/queen for under $10 and, if it was good enough for her...


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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You're unlikely to find anything more satisfying than La Super-Rica in SB. I went there twice this past summer, in only a few days' visit.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Just to clear something up, the RR program was anything but recent - it was made some time ago. Steer far, far away from the Camino Real Cafe - it might have looked good on the program, but, appearances can be,and in this case, are deceiving.

Now I am going to give you an insider's tip on where to go while in SB for a terrific, inexpensive, unpretentious, food lover's meal. Aja. It's on upper State Street, just below where it intersects with Las Positas.

It's a local's favorite - the local couple that own it also operate it - she in the kitchen, he on the floor. The wine list isn't fancy, but they are amenable to byo, with a modest corkage fee. Think crisp whites for this food. I guess if forced to describe the food, I would categorize it as Asian Fusion, but I really dislike that term, and don't think it captures the sense of the place adequately. Just trust me on this one.

If this isn't your cup of tea, I enthusiastically second Olio e Limone, which serves the best Italian food in SB, hands down.

While I like Super Rica, I wouldn't recommend it for dinner. I prefer it for a late breakfast, early lunch.

Have a great time.

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Aja sounds perfect -- thanks for the tip. I'm looking forward to it. Would we need a reservation for two on a Saturday night?

Just to clear something up, the RR program was anything but recent - it was made some time ago. Steer far, far away from the Camino Real Cafe - it might have looked good on the program, but, appearances can be,and in this case,  are deceiving.

Now I am going to give you an insider's tip on where to go while in SB for a terrific, inexpensive, unpretentious, food lover's meal. Aja. It's on upper State Street, just below where it intersects with Las Positas.

It's a local's favorite - the local couple that own it also operate it - she in the kitchen, he on the floor. The wine list isn't fancy, but they are amenable to byo, with a modest corkage fee. Think crisp whites for this food. I guess if forced to describe the food, I would categorize it as Asian Fusion, but I really dislike that term, and don't think it captures the sense of the place adequately. Just trust me on this one.

If this isn't your cup of tea, I enthusiastically second Olio e Limone, which serves the best Italian food in SB, hands down.

While I like Super Rica, I wouldn't recommend it for dinner. I prefer it for a late breakfast, early lunch.

Have a great time.

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Los Olivos Cafe is decent and wine is available and rightly priced "next door". You can also imagine yourself as an extra in Sideways.

As an after thought (happens after 60y/o) you can slide over to Figueroa Farms and watch the olive press in action.


Edited by Raoul Duke (log)

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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Clearly I need to have lunch at La Super Rica. Locals -- got any strategies to share, or is everything there great?

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What's wrong with La Super-Rica for dinner? As far as I'm concerned, nothing.

I think that which things to get there is really a matter of personal taste, and you're unlikely to go wrong, whatever you order.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Jesse, yes, you would be wise to make reservations at Aja - it's popular and fills up quickly.

Just to be clear, I don't think anything is wrong with Super Rica for dinner (though I personally prefer the taqueria down the street - El Bahio)

For me, it's an atmosphere thing - if I were visiting with a family member, I would rather it be in a more traditional restaurant setting. My take on Super is that it's street food, and I equate it with grabbing a hot dog or a slice when in NY. But if it's strategy you're after, whatever else I may order, I always get a taco de rajas - sliced peppers and onions cooked on the grill with cheese melted into them - pretty darned tasty. Order the special of the day - oh, and bring something to read, because you'll be waiting on line.

What is it they say now? It's all good.

Have a nice visit.


Edited by Juanito (log)

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Agreed on the taco de rajas, I love it!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Agreed on the taco de rajas, I love it!

Another vote for those, as well as the pasilla peppers and cheese taco, the adobadas (marinated pork), and the chilaquiles (if they have them, they make them like nachos). You can see photos of the place and the food from my visit here if you're interested.

And I too voted it for lunch not at all because of the quality, but because I like a bottle of wine and a waiter at dinner.

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Warning: The chilaquiles are a way bigger portion than the regular items, like 2 1/2 times as much, so keep that in mind. Yes, they're really good.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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When we used to go to Santa Barbara every year when my son attended UCSB, we used to go to the Palace Grill for very good New Orleans style food. The oysters R and blackened filet with Cajun hollandaise were great, and the Dean Martinis and Cajun Martinis were very nice. And there was an Argentine place in a former bank at the top of State that was fun and also very good. This was a few years ago though. :smile:

Edited to fic a letter.


Edited by Carlsbad (log)

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When we used to go to Santa Barbara every year when my son attended UCSD, ...

I'm trying to figure out why you would go to Santa Barbara when UCSD is in San Diego (La Jolla)? :biggrin:


Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Olie e Limone, the SB Shellfish Co. and Los Olivos Cafe were all wonderful when we visited the area in December. Go for the lamb shanks at LOC! :)

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