Just got home from a great week in Santa Barbara, with no real surprises to report, just delicious food at La Super-Rica, Aja (wow! fantastic wild mushroom risotto and beautifully grilled salmon), and our second wonderful meal at Downey's, as good as our first visit eight years ago. Standouts there included porcini soup and a lovely Lane Tanner (I think) 2000 pinot noir that was perfect with venison and lamb, and my husband enjoyed it with his swordfish too. I also had a nice Cosmo salad at Arts and Letters Cafe, romaine with smoked turkey, blue cheese and pecans, with a tabasco vinagrette. It would have been even better with the avocado they usually put in it (alas, I love avocado but it hates me).
We stopped in Ventura on the way up and found a funky place called Seaward Fish and Chips. I had two great big fish tacos with excellent hand-battered, thick cut onion rings. The food was good, but the best thing about the place was the cheerful, enthusiastic welcome and energetic service from the local guy at the counter.
Thanks, California! Good to be back for a little while.