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SANTA BARBARA: Barbareno - dinner report

glbtrtr | May 29, 201502:42 PM     1

Repeat from a prior thread about Santa Barbara - new restaurant at West Canon Perdido and DelaVina in downtown Santa Barbara - parking onsite and on street

BARBAREÑO report: Thanks for the nudge to get here. We tried it tonight. I think it makes a very good choice and is a very nice new addition to Santa Barbara, unique in several ways.

Thurs night - very full after 7:30 so make reservations as this place has really caught on with the 30 something crowd. Couples, solos at the bar, large dinner parties, out door dining, neighborhood crowd and just generally a nice place .Very congenial service and lovely rustic, shabby chic decor - which is quite stunning since I remember it when it was a local self-service deli.

Creative menu with a "historic and local" twist to their menu choices. This is the place to try "tri-tip with local piquinto beans" which is a local classic that usually takes going to an out door fund-raiser BBQ to get it done right. But this version was right on point for savory, juicy tri tip and a more refined way to get the typical sides.

Started with a slice of their homemade sour dough bread with at bit fresh garlic seasoned salt house made butter: Divine - best bread in town and I could have stopped right there and spent the rest of the night eating more of that wonderful bread. But moving on .....

We shared their appetizer special that offered three very unique taste tempters, each special in flavor, texture, balance and execution. Chopped delicate beets on a lime-rose water geleé in a parmesan tiny tart crust .. that was one so you can see they have fun with flavors here.

I had the hamburger because I always think this can be a real test of a kitchen and it was good, not great but a worthy choice if the mood strikes you. I still am comparing a dinner burger with Hungry Cat back in their good old days and even they can't replicate it when they got it 100% right. So this was a fine alternative just not a great one. So I am sorry I had not tried their other menu items instead but will return for sure. DH loved his tri-tip.

Had to find some room for dessert and again DH picked the winner - beignets with pistachio marzipan filling - plenty to share for two people, if you just order one. I had the muffet-tuffet - which was a nice, dense chocolate like "lava cake" except it was not, but you get the idea.

The additions of fresh herbs in all dishes put everything into the higher level of care about flavor counter-point here. So the fresh mint on my Muffet-Tuffet balanced the dense, heavy chocolate in this choice.

They try to replicate local dishes with a sense of history - back to the mission and ranchero days, so this menu is more rustic than refined, but also refined far more than rustic. You'll get it, when you go there. Earnest food, honest food, well-presented, creatively executed and highly satisfying.

I think it is a perfect place to take guests because it is a very stylish venture away from the tourist heavy old reliables on State Street, has very nice young energy to the place, care for the flavors and a very comfortable setting with just enough elegance to feel you have dined out well.

Handlebar coffee available so if you are local, you know this is where you get coffee in this town- just bare naked coffee because it tastes like coffee. This place cares about what you get to put in your mouth.

Dinner for two with two glasses of wine: $113.

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