Square One (closed)
Everyone in my dinner party agreed – the meal we had here at Square One was one of the best we’ve had this past year.
The place is owned by the chef and head waitress who put their heart and soul into the creative dishes.
A year ago I ate here and was very disappointed that the foie gras on the menu was not actually available that night. Later, I learned through the grapevine that the owners have incredibly high standards for the ingredients they acquire and would rather not give you anything at all than something they would consider less than perfect. Knowing that, I forgive them.
It’s probably cost them business from people who’ve grown to expect complete and consistent uniformity of mediocre food that chain restaurants provide, but I admire the owners for not compromising on their passions. They even grow some of their own produce at a farm in Los Olivos to ensure it’s exactly to their liking.
Anyway, my meal. UH-mazing. We all ordered the prix fixe menu ($65 or $75 each?) that’s four courses, plus little appetizers served inbetween that came with the meal.
But first, I finally got the foie gras I’d wanted a year ago. It was foie gras served three ways, whole with sweet sauteed…apples?, a pate and a “foam” all whipped up and soft and buttery. My god, so good.
We also got an appetizer from the specials that night, a duck egg with sauteed greens and truffle.
There were two small morsels before the final course, a little chocolate truffle and a profiterole with a spicy ginger sauce. How did they know I am a profiterole JUNKIE?? I love them for that.
The actual dessert was poached pear with tamarind sorbet and a little finger of toasted walnut bread still smoking/steaming hot from the oven.
The head waitress helped us pick out a wine, a pinot noir like none I’ve had before. Light, fruity and just perfect with all the seafood we had that night.
Coming here was a real treat. I wish more people in Santa Barbara would give it a try and I can have a gander at why it’s not as popular as it should be.
1. The interior can be viewed as “sterile.” It’s very simple and quiet and seems to say, “For Foodies Only.” That’s not true. The people inside are very friendly. I’m not a foodie.
2. The cost seems prohibitive. The bill was about $100 per person after tax and tip. But think about it, it was four stated courses, plus three little “intermission” plates for each of us, and two shared appetizers from the menu, one of which was the incredible foie gras. And a bottle of wine. We dined for about two and a half hours, and we were full.
Plus, there are affordable items on the menu. Many appetizers are in the $9-10 range, and their gourmet burger is $15. In Santa Barbara, that’s not unreasonable.
They’ve got my vote. Now I just have to wait for another payday to come around…