Monday, February 11, 2008

Will you marry me?

a reader of this column will soon ask his girlfriend during their next visit to Santa Barbara — perhaps on Valentine’s Day? He would like to take her to “Santa Barbara's most beautiful wineries then go to one of the most beautiful restaurants and propose to her there.” Unfortunately he is unfamiliar with this area so he asked me to post the question in my blog. Here are some of the responses:

Reader Anita says: "Stonehouse Restaurant at San Ysidro the fireplace, so peaceful and romantic! Or...the Plow & Angel, I think both would be equally enjoyable!"
Reader Nicholas says: "For the engagement I recommend Lincourt Winery on Alamo Pintado Road in Solvang. It's a beautiful drive and the views of the rolling hills are spectacular. For the restaurant I agree with reader Anita that either establishment at the San Ysidro Ranch would be a perfect setting. A close second would be a later dinner at Elements with a gorgeous view of the courthouse."
Readers Kyle & Susan say: "For the winery, Bridlewood in Santa Ynez has to be at the top of the list. The wine is outstanding, and no other winery's grounds compares. The Stonehouse Restaurant also has our vote for dinner, if cost is no issue. Elements, we agree, would be a great alternative."
Reader Meridith says: "Laetitia for champagne tasting, then picnic at the table on the knoll behind the winery overlooking the world with a great ocean view. Then dinner at Mattei's Tavern, reserve one of the tables in a niche for privacy."
Reader Wendy says: "A perfect day, lunch at Los Olivos Cafe, sit at the bar (or make sure you have lunch reservations). Propose at Sunstone winery, you can sneak off to the Cuvee Cave in the back away from the crowds. End your day with dinner at Bouchon, it's not inexpensive, but aren't the best memories worth all the money in the world?"

NEW LOCATIONS: Chipotle, located at 723 State St, is planning to open two more Chipotle restaurants on the South Coast; one in Santa Barbara and one in Goleta. No locations have been chosen but they hope to open the new restaurants early next year.

STIFFEST BACON IN TOWN: Joe's Cafe at 536 State St is now serving breakfast until 1pm on Saturdays & Sundays. Call 966-4638

CHEESE PLATTERS: I was at a nice party recently that served really fancy cheese platters with everything on them. They came from local hotspot C'est Cheese (825 Santa Barbara St). Gone are the days when platters were just crackers, cheese & a butcher knife. C'est Cheese offers 3 types of custom-made platters feeding 6 to 40: $6/person - cheese, fruit and freshly slices baguette. $8/person - cheese, fruit, baguette, olives, nuts & dried fruit. $10/person - all items above plus freshly sliced salami. Call 965-0318.

SPEAKING OF CHEESE: I stopped by the Cheese Shop (currently under construction) in Paseo Nuevo and a worker inside suggested they will be open "within a week or two."

ZERO TRANS FAT: I recently spoke with Dale, the popular manager at Kahuna Grill in Goleta and inquired about the new signs posted around the restaurant that say "We use a frying oil that has zero grams trans fat per serving." Dale said he had been interested in switching to healthier cooking oil for a long time but had been unable to find a good one until now. The problem, he said, was that many oils that loudly claim to be "zero trans fat" are also high in saturated fat. These snake oils are buzzword compliant but they also mislead the public. Dale finally discovered Pour'n Fry NT made by a company called Bunge. This oil is zero trans fat AND low in saturated fat. It is Kahuna's standard frying oil now. Congratulations to Dale & Kahuna Grill for going the extra mile to truly improve the quality of their food. Speaking of Kahuna, their second restaurant is scheduled to open in Paseo Nuevo in March.

SILVER ANNIVERSARY: Shang Hai Chinese restaurant at 830 N. Milpas St is celebrating its 25th anniversary. 3 years is a long time for a restaurant to survive, but 25 years put them up there with the elite. They offer Chinese & vegetarian cuisine every day except Tuesday. Call 962-7833

EXPANDING: Reader Jonathan tells me that Lilly's Taqueria at 310 Chapala St (up against the freeway on the north side) will be expanding into the space next door.

AND IN OTHER NEWS: I was at CompUSA in Goleta last week buying a few last-minute toys before they close their doors permanently mid-month. I asked the cashier what business will be replacing CompUSA and he said that representatives of Best Buy came in recently and showed strong interest in leasing that location. The cashier said he thinks Best Buy will make a move to get the spot. And in Santa Barbara news, I heard from well-placed sources that Louis Vuitton and BCBG are coming to La Cumbre Plaza. The rumor goes like this: Louis Vuitton will take over the spots at the current Yves Delourme store and Body Shop. Yves Delourme will move behind J. Jill or next to Pottery Barn. BCBG will replace Forever 21 which recently vacated.

John Dickson’s column appears every Tuesday in the Daily Sound. E-mail your restaurant news tips to

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