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glbtrtr | May 29, 201910:11 PM     12

Did an overnight to SOLVANG which surprised us with a very nice culinary triangle on Highway 246 from Buellton on Highway 101 - well worth the drive for those of us living in Santa Barbara who want more honest food, lower prices, less attitude and no unnecessary edgy frou frou.

The real hit was the MAD&VIN dining room at the LANDSBY HOTEL - surprising flavors from beginning to end - three courses, wine by the glass, cider and some very tasty starter spread with pita nibbles. Under $100 which is pretty darn good for this level of dining and in this area of California. We leave starving after the trendy "small plates" courses one gets for even more than that in Santa Barbara -Loquita, I am talking about you.

We tried their fresher version of brussel sprouts appetizer- lightly sweetened but piquant,, flat iron steak with duck fat fries, short rib skillet and flourless chocolate cake with McConnells Lemon-Marionberry ice-cream.

Everything was outstanding, well-portioned and we would easily go back even tomorrow and probably will just to keep working our way through the menu. Wonderful service personnel, casual but tasteful indoor and outdoor dining.

Real treat was getting to talk to the chef who has a very interesting background starting his early training at legendary The Ballard Store- he loves what he does and he pushes flavors in the most appealing way.

Well worth a stop - next door to the Santa Ynez favorite Grappolo new locaton in Solvang and across the streets from Paula's Pancake House which indeed is worth a breakfast visit - loved the thin Danish crepes just with whipped butter and a drizzle of warm maple syrup - though a squeeze of lemon would be welcome too.

Time to think about a summer trip to the Solvang outdoor Theater Fest and a nice overnight again at the Landsby and do this all over again - dinner at Mad&Vin (means food and wine in Danish) and Paula's Pancakes for the morning send-off.

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