Just had a 100% lovely dinner at Downey's in Santa Barbara (near Arlington Theater on 1300 block State Street). I always seem to qualify it when asked for the "best" restaurant in Santa Barbara. After last night's dinner, no more qualifications. it is and probably will remain my favorite choice. It is genteel and creative. They have now a $50 four course tasting menu which has slightly smaller main course portions which in fact were perfect when pacing one's appetite over all four courses.
We chose the crab costini with the curry papaya, apple grape, arugula garnish which was a haunting starter with a complex blend of flavors and textures. Then the chilled melon soup which had a touch of cayenne to make it a shade more interesting than simply fruity and sweet. I had the game hen and it was superd down to the last bit of swiped up sauce with their delicate breads. Partner had the duck which also reached perfection with fresh peaches that belong to a celestial hemisphere.
We sampled a wonderful 5 selection cheese plate as an extra charge off the prefixe menu and then made difficult choices from the dessert trolley as our final course.
Partner had the black and white ricotta cheese cake with fresh raspberry sauce and I had the fresh peach ice cream special with flaky crust and meringue. Just superb. I had the pre-fixe and partner ordered ala cart. We split a split of Veuve Cliqout for a special occasion so it did add up but it was just wonderful.
With the pre-fixe alternatives and less expensive wine there will be a lot more next times and not wait for special occasions. Santa Barbara dining has matured to grace and elegance and Downey's is the spot. There were both young and old diners so don't be put off by stuffy stories.
It is a lovely, very pleasant choice and the owner's wife understands the true meaning of hospitality . Consider yourself privileged to have the opportunity to dine at Downey's/