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Oct 8, 2007 06:35 AM

Our Dinner at Los Olivos Cafe

We got to the Santa Ynez Valley at around 12:00 with a box of Santa BArbara Baking Co's fresh pretzels and some yummy fruit. We went to Sunstone-what a crowded mess! Eek, all sorts of shuttles and limos full of Frat Boys and pretend Hollywood types with no manners! We escaped to Kalyra, who has a lovely Sangiovese and fabulous port, both of which we bought.

Next, Rusack, which for once let us down. Nothing spectacular, although a few solid reds. The fat bubbas on the patio smoking cigars were a pain-ignoring the nasty looks of everyone else on the crowded deck, they waddled off when a frustrated winery employee informed them that cigar smoke ruins any chance of tasting wine. They moved to fold away yard chairs by the trailer they'd parked in the lot.

We drove out to Alma Rosa, said hey to Chris and enjoyed the Pinot Gris most of all. Back over our tracks to Mosby, with laughably tiny pours, which at that point was OK, I'd been dumping for a while. We rushed to Beckman before it shut, went back to Solvang to taste olives and Casa Casarra (good Riesling).

I changed, and away we went to Los Olivos Cafe. It was crowded, but the service was great, and it wasn't loud at all. We got there right on time for our 6:30 reservation and were seated immediately. When I made ther reservation I mentioned that I confine my bread eating to splurges now and again, and the bread and dipping oil hit the table almost before our water did. It was nice stuff.

We got the Cafe Crostada-very nicely creamy goat cheese in perfectly cooked phyllo with crunchy toasts. My husband had the house honey wheat beer, made for them by Firestone. It was a good beer. I asked them to bring me a white of their choice, and ended up with a cahrd from Mer de Soleil-very nice. The waitress, hearing I liked Hummous, snuck me a " Free Sample" of theirs. The
"sample" was the size of a scoop of ice cream! It had good flavor and texture, but the HUmmous at Cedar House Cafe in Sherman Oaks is still my favorite.

For our mains, My husband chose the Pot Roast, and I chose the special pumpkin risotto. His meat was tender and luscious. The potatoes weren't anything special, but they were perfectly done-not gummy. Still, just potatoes. The sweet potato crisps scatterd over his dish were yummy! (i got little tastes!)

My Risotto was amazing. A perfect Pumpkin Dish! Lovely tiny chunks of pumpkin in creamy risotto with a sweet maple sauce drizzled over-topped wioth roasted pumpkin seeds-a huge dish, and amazing flavor! Not cloyingly sweet, but a good mix of the sweet and spice.

We were surprised with the Screamin Chocolate cake (flourless) as an Anniversary gift. Actually, everyone around us got a free dessert-it seems our neighbors on either side were also celebrating special occasions. It was a lovely dense chocolate finish, with creamy vanilla ice cream atop. I had been thinking of going to McConnels for froyo on the way back to Summerland (I heart McConnels in SB), but there was simply no room!

OUr entire meal at Los Olivos, with drinks, tip and food cost under $60. I was floored, and the wine had nothing to do with it!

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  1. Thanks for the update, we've never had dinner only lunch. Sounds great.

    1. I've always liked lunch there too, mainly because I prefer their outdoor patio to the dining room, but it's nice to hear that service is also good at dinner. Of their rustic spreads, the tapanade and the muffaletta are my favorites, especially with that good bread, which is baked for them in Solvang. I've heard a few people rave about the syrah-braised lamb shank at dinner, which I'd like to try sometime. Glad you liked your wine, but I wonder why your server would choose a Monterey County chard for you when you're right in the middle of one of Santa Barbara wine country's better wine shops, but then, I'm just not a great fan of Mer de Soleil. Love Bruno d'Alphonso's Di Bruno wines that they pour there and so many other local's wines, including the wine made by the owner of the cafe.

      Your descriptions of the wineries on a Saturday remind me of why I always go to Los Olivos on a week-day--it's so much quieter then. We had a picnic on Rusack's deck and were the only ones there, besides a few people on horseback in the parking lot. Thanks for the report.