Many thanks to the diligent hounds who take the time to post reviews and respond to questions. We had a wonderful weekend in the Santa Ynez area. Thanks to a mention on the Los Angeles boards I found my way to the Santa Barbara Vintner's Festival. My husband was thrilled with the birthday get away and the festival was well run and thoroughly enjoyable. It was great to meet the vineyard owners and sample many, many delicious wines. Of particular note, was a Voigner by Cold Heaven, produced by the wife of the owner of Au Bon Climat. If anyone knows a L.A. source I would appreciate hearing about it.
We breakfasted in Solvang and had excellent ableskiver (sp?) and Danish sausage at the Solvang Restaurant in the center of the village. We lunched at Los Olivos café and enjoyed a pleasant (and cheap) glass of rose with halibut and beef burgers. Interesting thing, that halibut burger. It didn't really taste much like fish but it was better than any turkey or "white meat" burger I have had.
Finally, we visited the much-lauded Hitching Post II in Buellton and enjoyed it tremendously. My husband had the porterhouse and I had the flatiron. Steaks were perfectly cooked and had rich charred flavor with an oaky overlay. We didn't find them oversalted, as some have written. We were reintroduced to the joys of the crudités dish and liked the tiny shrimp cocktail on its bed of celery. The bill was a pleasant surprise.
The real highlight of the night, however, was the grilled artichoke and the quail appetizer. The artichoke was divine, with a salt slick on the exterior and a wonderful smoky oak flavor. I don't think I have ever been in the position of advocating a vegetable over a great piece of meat, but there you have it. The quail was juicy and perfectly cooked, once again with a smoky edge. We could have eaten a platter of them. Next time I visit, I will.