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Mar 28, 2012 02:30 PM

Opinions on Julienne in Santa Barbara

Greetings from the LA Board. I'll be taking a trip to Santa Barbara in a month or so, and am planning to have a nice dinner 1 night. I've seen a lot of discussion regarding Julienne, but it's mostly coming from one user. I'd love to know if others share a similar love for the restaurant/experience.

Don't know if this helps, but in LA, I love Animal, ink., Mozza, Red Medicine. Small plates, seasonal menus, stuff like that. Julienne seems up my alley, but I just wanted to confirm or if I should be looking at the other popular recommendations (like Bouchon, Wine Cask, etc...)

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Julienne is good and creative and does focus on regional items. It would be a good choice.

    Hungry Cat, same owner as in LA is also a very good choice.

    Bouchon typically has very good food, but a bit more main stream.

    Wine Cask, some people love it, and it has Bouchon's old chef, but I have had several fair meals

    5 Replies
    1. re: VinoEd

      Thanks for the feedback. Julienne certainly seems more up my alley than the other places. I wish I could get a little bit more of a concensus.

      1. re: andytseng

        Julienne's is really good. Here is a review from LA Times critic where she also raves about my other favorite spot in SB, La Superica. She also likes Hungry Cat and those 3 restaurants plus the burger at Lucky's are our favorite go to spots in SB.

        1. re: macdog

          La Superica is definitely on my list as well. Had never heard of it before I started doing a little research for my upcoming trip.

        2. re: andytseng

          Thumbs up for Julienne, definitely. It sounds like you rkind of place. One place you might check out if you're here for lunch is the cafe at the Art Museum, on State Street. Lovely atmosphere and beautiful, thoughtful food.

          1. re: sbgirl

            We're only going to be there for 2 days and 1 night, but if we have some time to soak in some culture, the cafe is on my list! Thanks!

      2. Our local restaurant review site for Julienne for more opinions:

        This site is not as astute as the dining opinions we typically find on chow hound, but can give you a good and varied look when you are exploring your options - the more times I see the words "awesome" and "amazing" used in these reviews, the more I will discount their conclusions.

        Even if you don't want to hear from me again, Juilenne is in a class by itself in this town. Seagrass sounds like it also moving back into the second tier top spots as well - we have many good restaurants from high to low end, but for consistently inspired creations Julienne is the new "big city'" culinary standard.

        Once you get down to the rest of the oft-recommended local top spots, choices about location, price, ambiance and menu options start making the difference and not necessarily the quality of the food itself. I'll take the #15 special at La Superica for a few bucks just as easily as i will opt for the quiet, restrained and always enjoyable elegance of Downeys - our own favorite special occasion spot.

        Haven't been there myself but you might want to explore Scarlett Begonia in Victoria Court for breakfast/lunch only - seems to be finding a solid group of fans for innovative dining as well. And please do not leave town without a stop at Renaud's French Bakery and Cafe - also for breakfast/lunch dining only for the "real" thing. And topping anything off with a trip to McConnell's Icecream just may well make you want to come back to our sleepy little town over and over again.

        6 Replies
        1. re: glbtrtr

          Thanks for the other recs! Especially because if Julienne is as it sounds, I think we may share similar tastes.

          I wanted to mention that this trip will involve playing basketball during the day, so breakfast and lunch need to have good options for lighter fare. Of the places you mentioned, what fits the bill for that? I think we'll have to do La Superica on the way out on Sunday.

          1. re: andytseng

            There is something called "Backyard Bowls" that I gather is fresh and "healthy" stuff
            They have several other locations besides just the downtown one.

            Or Silvergreens which claims to be more purist in their offerings and environment.

            I have not been to either but you can use the SB Dining link to track down reviews for other (but not all) "breakfasts" venues.

            Where will you be playing basketball which can make a difference if you want to be close by -there are lots of little student eating places in Isla Vista if you will be out near UCSB.

            Wonder if you think we share similar dining tastes when I say there is nothing better than the Swedish pancakes at IHOP for breakfast (!!!!) (lunch and/or dinner) Enjoy your time in SB and please report back your impressions. I know you will give us a good report and maybe even discover so new places we don't know ourselves.

            1. re: glbtrtr

              Don't know if you are serious about the IHOP thing or not, but I LOVED IHOP crepes growing up. Haven't been in forever (my SO swears that IHOP is worse than Denny's and refuses to go), but I'm pretty sure I used to order the French (orange) one more often. Back when I was eating them, I think they had four countries for your crepe topping, but I don't see that on the website anymore.

              We'll be out by UCSB on Saturday and Sunday. Always willing to drive to accommodate the stomach though.

              1. re: andytseng

                We are long lost dining twins after all.. They still have all four of them - though Swedish is my one and only choice. Sweet, tender, eggy, and lush with flavored lingonberry infused butter.

                Plus we have a very unusual IHOP in Santa Barbara - it was built around a huge Morton Bay Fig trees planted a long time ago at the mansion that stood on the same property. Took the house down, but left the tree and has window walls around it.

                But I don't want to get between you and your SO over some pancakes! I am serious. IHOP is my fall-back whenever I end up in ChainLand.

            2. re: andytseng

              Now I am curious about the basketball. If you are coming to the training and workout facility in downtown near beach there is a good sandwich shop called Metropulos at 216 E. Yanonali St. Pierre LaFonds in Montecito on E. Valley Rd also has great salad bar and sandwiches. if you are young, Cadiz is also very popular on lower State. it has tapas and entrees and the bar scene is very lively. Last summer we saw some NBA players who were working out at the aforementioned training facility, partying at Cadiz. Food is good.

              1. re: macdog

                Sometimes SBCC makes their gym available too for professional BB workouts.

          2. Just wanted to drop by and say thanks for the recs. Went to Julienne on Saturday and had a great time. Had the pate, chicken liver toast, grilled rabbit loin, pork tongue, and foie gras & doughnuts. And a cheese plate for dessert. The pork tongue was amazing. Kinda melt in your mouth consistency and great flavors. Everything was good to great, including all the other bites I tried of other dishes. Service was top notch. I think I will make this an annual stop.

            Also of note on my trip, I visited Andersen's for breakfast the morning after, which was very solid. And had a pleasant conversation with the owners of Handlebar, who it seems are very into their coffee. Had a delicious cappuccino while I was there. Unfortunately, my trip was cut short so I didn't get to hit all the places on my list.

            Thanks again!

            5 Replies
            1. re: andytseng

              Thanks for your report. So glad you liked Julienne - a class by itself ,yet very approachable fine dining at the same time. Handlebar is a new one on me. Please tell us more. Since my prior posts I did get to Scarlett Begonia and include this one now too for high praise as a class by itself for breakfast, lunch and brunch.

              1. re: glbtrtr

                I came across Handlebar Coffee Roasters on the bottom of the Julienne menu, which mentioned that they are 2 doors down on Canon Perdido

                They only opened recently (within the last year), and are roasting their own beans in house. The daily coffee brew rotates, and is brewed in a French press. They were very friendly and more than happy to talk about their coffee philosophy. The storefront was pretty small inside with 2 tables, but they had a few tables set up outside that were perfect given the nice weather we had over the weekend.

                I almost went to The French Press, since we were sitting across the street from it (at Andersen's), but I'm glad I made the short walk over to Handlebar instead. Definitely worth a shot, especially if you're a coffee hound.

                The types of beans they have are listed on their website.

                1. re: andytseng

                  Thanks. Also discovered they carry Cotswold Chedder at C'est Cheese also around the corner from Julienne next to my own favorite ciabatta heaven Our Daily Bread. I think we are developing a new foodie ground zero in this historic little part of town.

                  1. re: glbtrtr

                    I think they are thinking the same thing. They spoke very highly of Julienne and it seems they have a close relationship with the owners. They also said it was too bad it was Sunday, otherwise we could've visited C'est Cheese.

                    1. re: andytseng

                      The funny thing in this part of town is the presence of the venerable and still open "hippie" Soujourner restaurant which fed many a generation's lost souls on humble portions of cornbread and beans for decades, and also the site of one of the worst ,but now closed Chinese restaurants, Jimmy's Oriental Gardens, who had one of the best looking store fronts along with the stiffest drinks in town so by the time you go to their miserable Column A or Column B dinners you did not much care. Out of these modest roots, this really remarkable collection of independent owner dining destinations is emerging.

            2. Can anyone tell me if Julienne has bar seating? I'll be In Santa Barbara for 4 weeks and wold love to find restaurants where I can sit at the bar since I will be dining alone.

              6 Replies
              1. re: nuprin

                I remember a few stools looking over the cooking area, don't know if they were for waiting or for dining but I bet they would try to accommodate you. Their tables are small and close together so you can almost feel like you are dining with other people even if you are alone, in a nice way.

                I have also dined comfortably alone at Ca Dario (N. Italian) because of where they put their small tables for two in little nooks by the windows. This is a good question. I will keep my eye open for more that provide this seating option.

                Sushi bars also have solo dining spots. Arigato is the best and the more casual Sushi-Teri restaurants around town do a very credible job with the basics. Hungry Cat is a also good one for bar seat dining and being able to observe all the cooking action.

                For something off beat (if you are a guy) a friendly Cheers type neighborhood bar there is Palmieri's on San Andres Street in the Westside and you can order pizza at Paesano's next door and they will deliver to your bar seat. This is the young blue worker collar bar and a really nice group of locals and even the favorite of our mayor who lives near by.

                There are lots of solo diners in this town so you may find it more comfortable to go to almost any restaurant and feel okay, even at a table. Since not everyplace is always busy, they can find you that obscure little table where you can be the observor, rather than the observed.

                The other good foil is to pick up a copy of the thick, weekly Santa Barbara Independent magazine style paper, free around town, and read about all of the weeks activities going on -- while you are waiting for your dinner between courses. Everyone reads it for the entertainment sections so it is perfectly normal to wile your time away with this at your table.

                1. re: nuprin

                  We have eaten at the bar at Julienne's-they have 4 or 5 seats. Some other good bar eating spots in SB are Hungry Cat on Chapala for delicious inventive seafood, Olio Pizza off of Victoria for casual antipasto and individual pizza's and Lucky's bar in Montecito for good drinks and burgers and great people watching.

                  1. re: nuprin

                    Another great spot for bar eating is Petit Valentien. Also Intermezzo at Wine cask, and Paradise Cafe (food decent, great wine list). Holdren's for a martini and snack at the bar.
                    more later.

                    1. re: sbgirl

                      Good picks and ones that deserve more recognition. I too have to put them back on my own radar screen and give them some re-visits. Petit Valentin particularly - still haunted by their chocolaty chocolate mousse - the way it was intended to taste and feel. Just simple basics, but quality ingredients.

                      1. re: glbtrtr

                        Thanks for all the recs! I had a decent meal at Julienne (chicken liver toast, pickled vegetables, and then a salad with shrimp) and a great meal at Hungry Cat. Can't wait to try the sushi restaurants.

                        1. re: nuprin

                          Hungry Cat has a great bar seating for dining. Glad you enjoyed it. This restaurant continues to get mixed reviews. Will you share what you had to eat there?

                          For breakfast, lunch or brunch be sure to include the nearby Scarlett Begonia with its patio and upper deck seating as well as indoor. Always easy to dine solo there and enjoy being outdoors in a quiet, charming courtyard too. Great place for that second cup of coffee and the morning newspaper.

                          Since you are going to be in town for a while doing more solo dining exploration, you might want to try the new Cielito in the lovely La Arcada passageway, because it looks like they have bar seating too with "small plates", also in this restaurant ground zero part of town - 1000-1300 blocks of State Street and surrounding blocks. I have not tried this one myself but early reviews are encouraging.