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Anchor Woodfire Kitchen Closed
updated: Sep 05, 2013, 3:30 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

After 8 months in business is appears that Anchor Woodfire Kitchen at 119 State Street closed their doors today.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 448449 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 03:46 PM

Too bad. This is one of my foavorite new restaurants in town.Great chef and delicious food. They made their own baked goods. I will miss them.

The construction and lane closuere on State didn't help them out any.


 COMMENT 448452 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 04:07 PM

Wow, what a bummer even if you didn't like the place. It was a beacon of hope in our dismal dining scene. For a city of our size and the availability of awesome ingredients the quality of restaurants here is pathetic!


 COMMENT 448454P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 04:12 PM

I don't get my food cooked by edgy guys with tattoos. Started strong, faded fast. Complaints about noise levels and relied on a customer base that quickly maxed out their credit cards. Then reports of poor food too. Bad business plan. Lessons learned. Did they last longer than Couchez?


 COMMENT 448467 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 04:44 PM

I can see the Lark going the same way. That's a whole lot of overhead to carry with that much construction and time taken before the doors open. Busy now but not so sure it will be 6 months down the line.


 COMMENT 448470P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 04:53 PM

Pascucci, Arigato, and Palazzio were all successful restaurants before relocating to State street. It's so risky to open on State. Any bets on Casa Blanca or Maggie's?


 COMMENT 448473 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 05:01 PM

Hopefully someone else with a similar vision will take their place.

As far as "The Lark" goes, I've already been there twice and they are going strong (and have great management/owners) so I'm sure they'll be just fine.


 COMMENT 448476 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 05:10 PM

When there are so many comments like "edgy" and "comically overpriced" (go look at Yelp),... no wonder. I hear the exact same comments about Lark.


 COMMENT 448494 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 05:46 PM

Investors saw the writing on the wall and cut their losses. Location was excellent, something else wasn't so much, the restaurant biz takes no prisoners. If La Super-Rica Taco Stand can make it operating out of that tiny shack, same with the Beach Burger Stand in Carp, that goes to show it's not about the show, it's about good food, reasonable price, consistent quality, friendly staff and quality atmosphere, which the locals will support all year long when the touristas have vanished. . Which ones didn't they get?


 COMMENT 448506 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 06:08 PM

Heard the chef was doing shady things. This is just the beginning stay tooned for the saga.


 COMMENT 448509P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 06:18 PM

Had a couple of nice special occasion meals there. It was very busy---- but a little pricey.


 COMMENT 448515P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 06:56 PM

Diners want comfort; not attitude.


 COMMENT 448516P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 06:59 PM

There are a number of businesses that make good fronts for money laundering. Food service, hard to price inventory, anything with lots of "spoilage", items with no set market prices, or regular stock. What was allegedly "shady" about this operation? Young people beating the system, but the system has been in progressive free fall for so long who can you blame.


 COMMENT 448525 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 07:41 PM

My friend was a waiter there and said investors had found out that the chef had been stealing lots of money. That he was being investigated for money being taken from the profits like thousands of dollars. That's why they closed so ubruptly.


 COMMENT 448530P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 07:50 PM

The bottom line for me, and I would expect many others, is quality, good tasting food. If the joint has atmosphere, well, that's another thing to add.....that's what brings me back to: **fill in the blank**. SB has an abundance of choices, if you get it right, you will survive, if not, you will fail, plain and simple. In the winter months, you want the locals to return again and again, plan accordingly. Don't cut corners, do so at your peril... ;-)


 COMMENT 448532P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 07:52 PM

In agreement with 494 - "it's about good food, reasonable price, consistent quality" surprising what a low percentage of such restaurants there are here. Lots of Italian and Mexican restaurants, ok quality and prices.
Was looking at menus on the internet of local places for lunch, wanting something other than a sandwich and noise. There were a few choices, but decided to shift into cook mode for myself and friends. Also wish we had reasonably priced, good Greek restaurants.


 COMMENT 448547 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 08:13 PM

452---Dismal Dining scene????
Umm lets see:
Pascucci, Opal, Fish Enterprise, The Hungry Cat, the Boat House etc.......


 COMMENT 448558 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 08:43 PM

To me the three most interesting restaurants in SB are Arigato, Superica, and Blue Owl. Get out and support the Blue Owl. It is as unique and good as Arigato (but totally different).

Olio e Limone and Petit Valentien are the others that set the standard in their respective traditions.


 COMMENT 448560P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 08:45 PM

547 - those a-r-e good places for eats; but compared to the total number of restaurants in this area, what per cent of restaurants here rate as well as the ones mentioned.
Seems like a lot of mediocre restaurants have been deemed acceptable by the residents and tourists - it is what it is.
Seems like overall a higher standard is not to be expected.


 COMMENT 448565P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 08:51 PM

Olio is good am told, but it's not within my price range, unless a very special occasion. It'd be nice to have some really good, unpretentious restaurants with variety in their menus. An occasional pork or lamb chop at lunch would be nice, with fresh veggies. A stew or shepherd's pie is only found at a few restaurants at lunch. Something other than sandwiches, Mexican, Italian or Thai food would be good. Yes, there's seafood which is good. More comfort, non fried food would be welcome.


 COMMENT 448578P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 10:09 PM

Brummis knows how to make it work. Immigrant success story - hard work, a lot of love and great consistent food.

But this other story about embezzling and quaky investors is probably where the real story is in this case. Who invested in him without a track record to bank on? Tatts are creepy in the food service field. They look and feel dirty. Don't want them touching my food.


 COMMENT 448586P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-05 10:55 PM

Down with Maggie's!!! Over-priced fare with a pretentious "you don't belong here" flair. Maggie and Barry would make money hand over fist if they just went back to the open patio of State and A and serverd REALLY good burgers with vegan and Kosher options. I'm not a Jew, but I love Kosher chicken!!! Bring back the local vibe and they will come,,,and so will the tourists!!!!! I promise you! And if you don't believe me, well,,, look at how the Frog Grill is doing. 'Just sayin'..,


 COMMENT 448609 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 07:40 AM

we ate there for the first time. It was way to noisy inside and the train going by. The service was slow, the food was so so and pricey. But the cocktails were amazing. We all agreed we would not go back.


 COMMENT 448617 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 07:47 AM

586... The Frog Grill as in Glen Annie Golf Course?


 COMMENT 448621 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 07:58 AM

The remodel of "State and A" to Maggies was done very well. The decor is unique and classy. They obviously were targeting the show and entertainment crowd for dinners and the business, bank, county government and court complex crowd for lunches along with a few occasional tourists. The restaurant business in Santa Barbara is extremely competitive and it is hard to find a LASTING niche. Besides location and atmosphere, good food, variety, good service and reasonable prices are always essential elements. The places that last are those that can put together some consistent combination of these elements depending upon their target customer base. A restaurantuer I knew years ago said you have to find the right mix to attract tourists during tourist seasons and yet attract and retain locals the rest of the year.


 COMMENT 448630 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 08:10 AM

When did this place open? I never heard of them.

I miss State & A. Haven't tried Maggies and won't try Maggies until there is a coupon or they start accepting Axxess.

I love the Blue Owl too, but my god what a small, uncomfortable place they have. Great (and very interesting) food though.


 COMMENT 448631 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 08:11 AM

Maggies is creepy at every single level: food, decor, vibe and owner attitude. Were it not for their own investment money and the stray tourists who don't know any better, this place would have been long gone.

Ranks as one of the oddest restaurant schemes in this city, only after Couchez. Agree, it is a waste of a good location with a very poor execution.

There are so many fresh new ideas in the restaurant world today, retro Orange County in the 70's with a trite menu to match does not cut it. Put in a Julienne or a Scarlet Begonia in that same spot and it would be an instant success.

No, the theater crowd is too traveled and sophisticated to find Maggie's appealing at any level at all. One visit was enough to know there was no reason to go back.


 COMMENT 448632P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 08:14 AM

A couple of places not mentioned on this thread that have really good food at an on-point price and are worth checking out .. Al Rojas' Alcazar, Milk and Honey, and the Bourbon Room, but especially the Bourbon Room (be sure you try the Brussels sprouts!). Ca Dario Pizzeria on Victoria.. go on Thursday when Sommelier George is there, he is awesome and the pizza is better than Ca Dario. Sama Sama Kitchen by the Arlington is good, too.


 COMMENT 448639 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 08:25 AM

I wanted to try Anchor, looked at the menu and decided to pass. There's a ton of great food options in this town, we're very lucky. As for Maggie's, I too miss State & A, and I've heard (this town is all about word on the street) that she's been blowing through employees because she's a pain to work for. Seems like others here have heard the same things. She may be a candidate for Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares!

I'm not a restaraunteur, never worked a day in a restaurant, but I have worked with many restaurant owners and it is not easy in this town. You need to hit the ground running and have a great staff. One bad review or poor meal and you're on thin ice in SB.


 COMMENT 448640 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 08:33 AM

The restaurant biz is fraught with fraud. A fish expert friend ordered the "Mahi mahi fish and chips" at an anchor State St fish restaurant, only to see it was not Mahi mahi. The manager admitted that it was Tilapia, which is to say, they knew what fish it was and chose to lie to the public. The endless stream of uninformed tourists will keep them in business.


 COMMENT 448664 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 09:25 AM

The owner was never a friendly guy. A smile will go a long way. I am sad for him, though.


 COMMENT 448679 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 09:52 AM

Went to State & Fig last night on a whim and it was awesome!


 COMMENT 448704 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 10:26 AM

Funny such divergent comments on the same resteraunts. I for one love Maggies and treat myself a couple times a month. Great selection of Bourbons.

Bummer about Anchor I really liked everyhting about it. The Charley cocktail was epic.


 COMMENT 448710P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 10:32 AM

Liking the bar at restaurants like Maggie' s is not the same as liking the food; or diners at best have let their tastebuds get numbed ahead of time. Enterprise Fish company in the same category; great bar, but perfectly awful food prepared indifferently for alcohol numbed tastebuds.


 COMMENT 448731 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 10:56 AM

Anchor's Away!


 COMMENT 448758 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 11:55 AM

Always love the comments from SBers about how great our dining options are here. Obviously these folks need to get out of the SB Bubble more often and see what's going on in places where there truly are awesome "foodie" restaurants going on. SB has maybe 2 or 3 decent restaurant options that are doing creative things, but the prices are way out of whack with reality in most of these places.


 COMMENT 448782 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 12:53 PM

It is an almost unbelievable tale fueled by cocaine, liquor, a huge ego and severe sociopathic tendencies. If you know anything about the restaurant business and were even casually observing this mess, you would know this was to be the inevitable outcome. Chef's don't make enough money to buy two boats, new luxury vehicles, prostitutes, drugs... the sky was the limit.
Word is that he bilked the backer out of 1.5 million. He was also able to convince local celebrity chef Kat Cora to mentor him publicly. He is a very charismatic individual who left a path of destruction in his wake. It looks like he'll be tossing a lot more than just pizza when he goes to prison. I'm sure the Mexican gang members are gonna love that huge "Ancla" tattoo that he has across his chest.


 COMMENT 448802 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 01:47 PM

@782, do you have inside information or are you just speculating? What's the guy's name?


 COMMENT 448815 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 02:21 PM

I looked him up on Facebook. He looks like he could be a complete tool. Any time I see a white punk trying to look all urban gangsta hip hoppie, I smile inside. Totally lame.


 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 04:26 PM

Chef Jason? I had a superb meal at Square One years ago. He was highly praised in S. CA, including by the LA Times. Sad.

LA Times:
A sweet Santa Barbara secret
Square One quietly makes its mark by word of mouth, fueled by inspired dishes and a confident chef.
By S. Irene Virbila
Times Staff Writer

November 15, 2006

Duck consommé with persimmon-wrapped duck confit. Local abalone with braised sunchokes and pickled asparagus salad. Herb-roasted yellowtail in Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin) broth with chili brunoise and crisp squash blossoms.

Hungry yet?

As I read over the list of appetizers at the year-old Square One in Santa Barbara, I don't get a bit of déjà vu. This stuff sounds not only delicious, but personal. It's not just a rehashing of what everyone else around town is cooking. Here's a young chef, Jason Tuley, who shows some imagination and verve.

And he can cook too.

The consommé is clear as tea, served in an oval bowl with what looks like two pale orange baby tacos. They're actually miniature crepes flavored with persimmon and wrapped around a few bites of succulent duck confit. The broth has a fruity lilt from pomegranate emulsion. It works beautifully.

Three baby abalone are fried golden and stacked in a pretty abalone shell. Tuley serves the delicious, tender meat with braised sunchokes (they taste like artichoke hearts) and fried capers, and for a piquant note, lightly pickled asparagus salad and an understated lemon foam, the latter for fashion.

A block of yellowtail cooked rare arrives in a broth enriched with the rich funk of local uni. The broth is embellished with bright dots of chili brunoise(finely diced hot pepper); a golden fried squash blossom floats alongside. This is more interesting than yellowtail sushi any day.... [ more ]


 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 04:28 PM

A block of yellowtail cooked rare arrives in a broth enriched with the rich funk of local uni. The broth is embellished with bright dots of chili brunoise(finely diced hot pepper); a golden fried squash blossom floats alongside. This is more interesting than yellowtail sushi any day.

With no PR firm flogging its virtues, Square One, even in Santa Barbara, relies on word of mouth, which is worth more than any press release. And yet, except for insiders, it's flying well under the radar. On a Friday night the place is half-empty, but on a Saturday, it's packed.

It certainly doesn't draw attention to itself. There's no real sign, for one thing, just a square etched onto the front window along with the name. And though it's only a half a block off lively State Street, on a stretch of East Cota Street framed by rowdy bar-restaurants. I'm glad that when I called, I was told that it's next to a lingerie shop, or I may not have found it in the dark.

All the more reason to go. Here's one bright new restaurant where you can actually get a table. Or a bar stool as the case may be. Eating at the bar, actually, is convivial and fun.

Stellar dishes, hands down.


 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 04:29 PM

The end:
"Square ONE is basically a long narrow storefront, decorated with a modern and very spare sensibility. One side is taken up by the bar, the other by a row of tables. The walls are what look like a pale blue-green — in the dark, anyway — punctuated with a few chrome and glass light fixtures.

At the back, seen through an opening the size of a big picture window, is the kitchen. But it's no designer's fantasy. It's a basic, workaday setup just big enough to fit Tuley and his crew of two. And it's somehow disorienting to look up from that handsome plate of heirloom tomatoes garnished with chilled blue cheese and Chardonnay gelée to see the kitchen brigade sweating it out in front of the stoves. On a busy night, the pace is relentless. The dishes are complicated and it takes hair-trigger concentration and timing to get four or six or eight different ones to the table at the same time.

Ingredients are mostly local, seasonal and first-rate. Take that abalone. I can't remember anyplace else where I've even seen it on the menu lately. Pork loin wrapped in bacon (a bit on the dry side) is served with quince purée and Chioggia beets, the beautiful ones striped like a red-and-white bull's eye that are originally from Italy's Veneto region.

Whole roasted squab comes with an earthy roasted chestnut purée and a groovy take on the Tuscan bread salad panzanella. This one is made with chunks of bread, crisped pancetta, pear and nuggets of blue cheese. It's this side dish that convinces me to order the squab, not the other way around.

I would come back just for the fried chicken, here made with the smaller and more delicate Cornish game hen. The pieces are adorable on the plate, the batter as furrowed and wrinkly as a Shar-Pei puppy. When you bite into the crisp golden coating, the bird spurts juice. It may be one of the best versions of fried chicken ever. Why didn't somebody think of this before?

Braised short ribs are a slam dunk too, dark and fork-tender, served with fresh Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a saffron emulsion that plays up the richness of the beef.

Somehow the fish main courses are less compelling, despite the imaginative ideas. Tai snapper is dressed up with at least one too many elements, crab brandade fighting for dominance wit... [ more ]


 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 04:46 PM

My meal at Square One in 2007 (sorry, I'm into food pron. Just skip this post if you're not.)

"Front of house was co-owner, Caitlin. Chef was there with sous chefs, not doing all cooking; overseeing all. Yes, I spoke with him after to thank him. Seems very young; yes, tatts. [I told him the squab was too salty, I'm sure he didn't appreciate my comment. :-)]
Malpeque & Kumamoto oysters with a sweet, delicate mignonette -- delicious; no strong tang; it's the only mignonette I've ever liked, but used very sparingly as I don't put much on my oysters.

Jack Hill Syrah [one of the best wines I've had. I'm not a wine drinker let alone an aficionado]
Foie Gras: a torchon atop a very tart lemon or lime gelee. Seared atop a rosemary semifreddo(?) AWESOME taste combo. And a pot de creme with huckleberry jam topping. Pot de creme? Whatever. Was there foie in it? Not sure.

Roasted quail with house-cured pancetta, nettle gnocchi (light as a feather) and fried cavalo nero leaves (black kale). Absolutely superb. I adore quail. A great dish overall, wonderful combo.
A mid-meal amuse bouche of halibut crudo with some salad. Wonderful! I could eat a lot of crudo.
Red wine braised short ribs, baby turnip & carrots, celery heart, horseradish froth and jus. As good as the review said.
Chocolate torte with pistachio froth and 3 streaks on the plate: Fleur de sel, orange dust & chili powder. Superb.

I want to try the chef's Braised Pork Belly with mustard greens, mustard pearls and wasabi gremolata."

Too bad, for my taste buds, that I never went back for that.


 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 04:53 PM

I've had 1 or 2 meals out like Square One since. I'm under-employed. I wish I had dined at Anchor. Too bad he messed up so badly. I feel terribly bad for staff! Not for principals. Good luck, you "peasants," I'm with you. :-)

(Yes, Petit Valentien is a joy! I better go to Julienne too. Both sound like nice places for a woman to dine alone.)


 COMMENT 448891 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 05:26 PM

@782. I have hear the same storie from people that worked there. Just wondering if and or when the investors will file charges. I also hear that they were planing to open two other spots in December with different concepts with Chef Jason but that's when the investors did an audit and realized money was not coming in. I have no idea how he persuaded this people to give him so much money. If they would have spend one weekend in that restaurant or sent some one they would have know what was going in. He would take 1942 bottles of tequila and do shots with his friends. I also hear that he would go on crazy tangents. He would grasp a baking sheet and slam it like crazy when he would he pissed. Kitchens are for cooking not doing lines!


 COMMENT 448914 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 06:22 PM

As a previous commenter said, Maggies is downright CREEPY. Would love to see David Lynch use it in one of his movies.


 COMMENT 448916 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 06:34 PM

Kind of want to give Maggie's a try now! If they have achieved Lynchian levels of weird it's got to be worth at least a cocktail.

Attitude at restaurants has always baffled me, who wants to repeatedly eat somewhere they don't feel welcome or for that matter somewhere they feel they are carrying the place's construction cost (I'm looking at you 'Lark', three entrees recommended per person!)


 COMMENT 448952P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-06 10:12 PM

Selling up was an offensive signature at Hungry Cat, starting with the sneer if you did not order bottled water. Then no matter what you ordered, they would also suggest a higher price item instead.

Are you sure you do not want XYZ they would ask after you perused the menu and already chose ABC.

They got away with this because in the beginning their quality was good enough to override the insults. But once their quality slipped and attitude still persisted, it was time for a permanent good by.

Today's SB dining standards are set at Julienne and Scarlett Begonia. Plenty of other good ones that we also enjoy, but these two are art form level dining experiences in this little town. The both come with a lot of love from the kitchen to the customer. Can't say that for several other places in town as previously mentioned.


 COMMENT 449511 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-09-08 08:18 PM

The foodies in the area are very sorry to see Anchor closed. I enjoyed Chef Jason's creations. I found Anchor to be a fun, hip atmosphere that had good food! I am very disappointed in all of the negative comments about the chef. Do you really have first hand knowledge of what is going on in the restaurant or are you just speculating? Or are you a disgruntled employee? Please don't gossip about what you think happened or what you heard from so and so! Don't throw stones!


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