I was in the area running errands, noticed it was past lunchtime, and walked into Whole Foods for inspiration. I should point out here I was beyond hungry, the kind of hunger that makes me indecisive in the face of food.
I was deeply suspicious and talked to the man at the counter for a while. What’s the deal? What do you get? Is it already made?
No! It’s a freshly prepared burger, completely customized to your specs.
I selected ground bison, cooked medium, with grilled red onions, swiss cheese, toasted ciabatta and the regular fixings. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, it’s ready, loaded into a little paper tray and packed neatly into a takeaway box.
The fries sit on the bottom, so they will get soggy fast, eat those first and quickly. The bison I selected is naturally low in fat, so I found that medium doneness tended to be more cooked than medium and will take that into account if I order it in the future.
Their deli offered other burger combinations, such as ‘cowboy’ style, or bacon, these cost a little more, like $0.50 or $1.00 more, still a very good price.
When Whole Foods first opened, there was an outdoor seating under an arbor. Now there’s indoor seating as well, just inside the entrance. At first I was worried that the baked goods and gelato that had been near the door was gone forever, but the good folks there pointed out it had moved to the back corner where the rest of the bakery was. Whew! I can still get my gelato fix. Oh, and one more thing. You know how McConnell’s is closed for remodel? Whole Foods has a small selection of McConnell’s ice cream.
This is a followup to my post a few days earlier about Silvergreens’ Burger and Beer special. Before I’d gotten the avocado, sundried tomato burger.
Today the Nymphaea gang and I tried some of the other burger selections.
This is supposedly one of Silvergreens’ simpler burgers, the cheeseburger. BUT! There’s a choice of cheese and the options are way better than the usual cheddar or American cheese. There’s the above two, but also swiss, jack, blue cheese or goat cheese. I got the goat cheese and this tasted great!
But I can imagine that the popular burger most others order is the bacon cheeseburger. Because…bacon. Here, the cheese is just cheddar, there didn’t seem to be an option to go with anything else. And the idea of offering this great burger and beer special is that there aren’t any substitutions. But like I said, there’s bacon in there, which makes the burger close to nirvana without having to faff over little details of cheese.
Once again, the deal is any burger and beer on their menu is just $6 from 3-7 pm, 7 days a week. A soda or ice tea can be substitute in place of beer. Or wine for $2 supplement.
Silvergreens (two locations)
900 Embarcadero del Mar,
Silvergreens is one of those places that I’d eaten at before and had the unfortunate experience of ordering the wrong thing. I’d gotten the “half and half” option of half a sandwich, with salad and cookie – which is actually good – but I picked the bread as baguette, convincing myself that something baked in-house had the probability of being good. However, it had a rock hard crust and was really difficult to eat. There was no way I could get an actual whole bite of sandwich in my mouth, I had to eat it open face, and it still tore up my mouth, while also putting my nose into the nest of mayonnaise and sprouts on the top of the sandwich. I’ve since learned that their honey-wheat bread is the way to go. It’s softer, tastes good, and has more fiber.
So I went to Silvergreens recently to check out their “happy hour” special offering a burger and a beer for $6. This deal is available from 3-7pm, 7 days a week. It’s any one of the burgers on their menu and any bottle of their beer, or you can pay $2 more for a glass of wine instead of the beer.
The burger selections are nice. I got the sundried tomato and avocado burger, that’s normally $6.99 a la carte. There’s also a pepper jack cheese and bacon burger, a pesto burger, cheeseburger, and a classic plain burger. Beer options include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Blue Moon Belgian White Ale, Firestone, Corona and more. There is an option to get a non-alcoholic beverage in place of the beer, and note: Beer is only available to dine in, you cannot get any alcoholic beverage to go. I wanted my meal to take away, so I selected a San Pellegrino Limonata, but could have taken ice tea or some other drink.
The burger was nicely composed, using the tasty honey-wheat bun; the beef was cooked by default as medium, with a little pink in the middle. The sundried tomato added a lot of flavor to the burger, and the avocado made it nice and creamy. The bun was cut a little thick in places, but that helped it hold up the heft of the juicy burger. I also liked the use of spinach as the greens instead of the normal iceberg lettuce.
Other things I liked about Silvergreens:
* Itemized nutrition information printed on my receipt. The meal cost $6.53 after tax, it was 728 calories (150 was the Limonata) with 4 grams of fiber, 30 grams of fat and 36 grams of protein, and the table showed what percentage this contributed to a 2000 calorie or 2500 calorie diet.
* Free coffee refills, after your first purchase of a coffee, and reusing the paper cup provided with that first purchase. I had some friends working nearby, and they had wandered over to Silvergreens throughout the day for top-ups on their coffee.
* The coffee and ice tea served there all came from Green Star, a local purveyor specializing in fair trade coffee and tea. And remember, free refills.
* The interior is bright and tidy; the fellow working the counter was super friendly.
Overall, rather nice and a very good deal. I’d originally accompanied my friends, who were there for the coffee, but once I’d gotten the burger, they came back later for those, too. They all ate dinner for about $6.50 each and it provided lots of energy for everyone working late into the night on the Nymphaea art installation for the SBIFF opening party.
Silvergreens (two locations)
900 Embarcadero del Mar,
We’d heard this rumor that the Dutch Garden’s burgers were exemplary because they ground the meat in house. That nagged at the back of our minds for ages because there’s such a narrow window of opportunity to try their burgers. One, it’s only served at lunch, and two, they’re not open three days a week.
But we finally made it, and tried the burger, with cheese. Oh man, it’s big, half a pound of ground beef. And we confirmed, no, it is not ground in-house. Aw! But it was still good. I especially like the grilled bun, with a golden crisp underside. And a platter of German mustards is brought out, to dabble with. This is a burger best eaten open face, because it is big and juicy.
I ordered an item I knew nothing about, but was curious about the name. This is called a Strammer Max and it was pretty much breakfast on an open faced sandwich. Fried eggs, griddled ham and cheese, on toasted sandwich bread and assorted sandwich fixings like lettuce, onion and pickles. Another sandwich-style lunch best eaten with knife and fork because the egg yolks go all oozy over the meal, yum yum.
And finally, a glass of beer to wash it all down. Aaaah.
I’m a fan!
Some parents must have finally kicked their 40 year old son out of their converted garage and made him take his record collection and vintage pinballs game with him. That guy then moved it all into Billies and bob’s your uncle. The interior totally feels like that garage hangout, with a half-spruced up concrete floor and a wall covered with 80s album covers. Test yourself and see how many you recognize, like the Loverboy cover. Oooh, caught! You liked Loverboy!
As far as diner food goes, Billies’ direction is right where I want to go – they grind their own beef for the burgers, their ketchup is housemade, the chili seems to be made of mostly chunks of tender pork shoulder. And the sweet potato fries are portioned and priced to share – a large amount with plenty of chipotle mayo to dunk. Big props for doing so much of the menu from scratch.
I had the burger, the sweet potato fries and a small bowl of chili. This came to under $20, feeding two. The burger is medium rare to rare by default, which imho they can get away with because they grind the burger meat themselves. If you like it more well-done than that, then just specify. But if you like it with lots of pink, you don’t need to say anything. The cheese options are cheddar or pepperjack, and the onions come grilled.
The SPF may seem expensive, at $6.50, more than ordering a cheeseburger. BUT, the portion is for more than one person. Share it with another and the price works out to be perfectly normal. This is the kind of place where you come in with friends anyway, so no big.
On another visit, we ordered the mac and cheese combined with their chili. Good stuff! We sat at the bar, chatted with ourselves and other diners who were eagerly chowing down the burgers. Much camaraderie…just like hanging in that converted garage after school.
Whether you like that garage feel is a matter of opinion, but one criticism I had of the interior is not enough seating for the space. It’s either half a dozen padded barstools at the front, which are usually taken, or sparse wobbly thin tables along the wall. Maybe this is appropriate for the late night crowd that just wants some hot greasy yum before stumbling out into the night. But sober me thought there was room to put in more tables and chairs, and sturdier ones at that. I should hope that Billies *wants* more people to eat at their place, right?
Now, I don’ t know if it was the game, or the player, but my friend had a go on the Star Trek pinball and won two free games. At one point he had to walk away, cuz his food was getting cold.
Bonus: open until 3 am every night. Got late night munchies?
I’d heard the burgers were good here, and inexpensive. Sandwiches, too. McMarko and I decided to check it out instead of going to his de facto cheap and cheerful sandwich shop.
I had my fears about bad parking, as the autumn quarter was just starting at ucsb, but we scooted into a spot right in front on the street. Great parking karma!
I went with the standard burger, which only cost $2.50. The bun was nice and toasty and the accoutrements were good, but the burger itself was dry and underwhelming, which the other positives could not outweigh. However, this is why it’s a $2.50 cheap burger. Next time, I’ll get a bigger burger so there’s less chance for the little meat patty to overcook. It’s a nice photo at least.
McMarko did indeed get a sandwich, as this was his foray into an alternative to his usual sammie spot and he decided this was better than his usual, and for the same price or slightly less. I’d say, if the parking were consistently better, we’d come here more often. Alas, it’s still I.V. So no thank you.
It seems weird to “plan” for making burgers, they seem so commonplace. But this was a special burger.
The beef was an organic grassfed ground beef, the buns were organic whole grain, the onion, tomato and arugula came from the farmers market. I don’t remember where the bacon came from but it was also supposed to be special. The plan was to make big fancy burgers for lunch, then prepare our camping gear for an upcoming trip.
Here’s the result!
The onions are caramelized with white wine, the bacon was grilled rather than fried. The burger patties were cooked medium with a little pink inside. All in all, a very tasty burger. We ate them outside on the front stoop.
Ah, dinner during First Thursday. Love coming here after wandering the galleries and catching the Forum Lounge show at the Contemporary Arts Forum.
Tonight we shared a bowl of mussels, and their standard $14 burger with bacon and onion rings.
Dessert was caramel ice cream with brittle. Very good! All their desserts are good and hovering in the $8 price range. Best art for sale at First Thursday. :)
The Wine Cask is split into two distinct sections: the more formal dinner dining area and the casual brunch and dinner bar/cafe. This write-up is about the bar/cafe.
It has different service hours and a different menu to the proper Wine Cask restaurant, longer hours actually, with a casual menu ranging from seafood dishes to flatbreads and burgers.
Most of Santa Barbara, wishful for the nostalgic good old days, have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the Wine Cask under its original ownership. The wine portion is original ownership, but the food/dining portion is now run by the fellow who does bouchon and seagrass, both higher-end restaurants in town that have garnered many 5 star reviews, except when someone’s expecting free rose petals strewn at their feet and water refills on the minute, then it’s like 1 star or something. But I digress.
I’m part of the crowd that was happy that the Wine Cask as reopened, although I really couldn’t care about the eucalyptus tree. Bloody invasive plants they are.
This gang tried one of every flatbread, and I would be hard-pressed to pick one of them as a favorite, they are were all good in their own ways. The duck confit was decadent, while the mozzarella, tomato and basil pesto was pure and simple tasting.
Most people who ordered burgers or sandwiches were only able to eat half, and this included the dudes.
There was one order of mussels in a cream sauce. No leftovers.
A handful of us shared the butterscotch pudding and shortbread cookie, and it is good to share as it is very rich. Not crack-your-teeth-because-there-is-so-much-sugar rich, but a deep flavorful rich. Not rich on the bill either, it was just $6.
One thing I can say with mild conviction about Goleta is that it’s no culinary mecca, and Goletans seem to like it that way. Serve up a big meaty portion and don’t charge much for it, and there’s the general formula for restaurant success. If it’s a local business makes it even better.
This is the second Nugget, with the first so unbearably far away in Summerland that this part of town can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing it’s no longer necessary to drive through downtown or the dreaded Milpas bottleneck.
Most of the offerings of this Nugget are based on the Summerland restaurant. I’d like to highlight what few items are different. For one, the bartender and his unique specialties. I went with some thirsty friends and we sat at the bar. There we learned that this Nugget has a big ol’ container of pepper infused vodka: sweet peppers, jalapenos and habaneros. The vodka has some kick to it and it’s served in the Bloody Caesar cocktail. I especially liked the pickled green beans in this drink.
The bar also brings the Mud Slide Cocktail to the table. Think of it as a milkshake for adults. It’s a nice way to wrap up a meal of a juicy burger.
I also tried the pomegranate cocktail. A bit sweet for my tastes, and I am a girlie that likes sweet things, but perhaps the portion will appeal to some. Not just a cocktail glass, but a full pint, which is poured in portions into a cocktail glass. Oof.
The Nugget also has a sort of special dish menu, perhaps for lunches, or a portion that’s not a full blown gut-buster main. It seems to contain items of good value. We learned that the crowd favorite was the beef stroganoff, coming in at $9. Someday I’ll try it, but it was not for me that night.
Instead I ordered a meal that the Summerland Nugget does not offer: baby back ribs. A full rack, with a side of vegetables and starch, for $20. The meat was falling off the bone and wasn’t overly slathered in sweet sauce. It turned out my thirsty friends were also a little hungry, and we all dug into them and there was still some left over.
I’d put the food at 3 stars, A-OK. Plus an extra star comes from improving the Calle Real strip mall with one more local business.