Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

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By an edhat reader

There are more important issues in life, but some of my friends and I wonder if it seems restaurants are better in the Monterey area than Santa Barbara and why that might be? Any thoughts on that Edhat readers?

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letmego Jun 18, 2021 09:54 AM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

Can you give some examples? What makes a great restaurant? I admit to not eating out much at all, to be honest. We used to go to Julienne for our anniversary. I thought that was a great restaurant (now gone).

FondofSB Jun 19, 2021 06:53 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

To LetmeGo : A great restaurant distinguishes itself , first and foremost , with outstanding courses, creative and cooked to perfection. Restaurants who aim that high also see to it that service is up to the challenge, professional, present without being overbearing , to the attention of the guests and then also makes the setting as pleasant as possible. That doesn't mean "lavish" , but simply as pleasant as the surroundings permit.
There is nothing like that in S.B.
And yes the food at "Julienne" was very good (without being "exceptional") and now, as you remark : it is gone , so no longer available in S.B.
To look at it in another way : there are NO restaurants at S.B. where I tell myself (and my beloved wife) : "Gee ! You know, we really should go there again , it's been too long since we went and I really miss it !".
Another way to look at it : when I go to a restaurant I expect a better dinner than what I can fix, routinely, at home. If not : why go ?

RHS Jun 17, 2021 04:17 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

It is true that Santa Barbara is an historic restaurant desert. It has a lot to do with the lack of decently trained or motivated wait staff and a general attitude of "take it or leave it." I have long been of the opinion that there are no decent CA restaurants south of Santa Clara County. There is just something about the lack of dedication to the craft down here. There are occasional good dining sites but they seldom last unfortunately.

BlueHorseshoe Jun 18, 2021 09:45 AM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

With the exception of about 5 restaurants in SB, and maybe 10 in Monterey, my vote is for Carmel, where we have always had incredible service and damn good food. Service is the only reason I go to a restaurant, as I believe my cooking is on par with anything you can get from a restaurant, and we have predominantly TERRIBLE service here in SB. Service should be the easiest thing to get right, yet managers continually fail to give a damn how their employees are doing.

Voice of Reason Jun 18, 2021 01:24 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

You have absolutely zero clue the constant challenges restaurateurs and their employees face. It is extremely hard work and your comment is an insult to all of them. In addition to taking their work for granted I bet you're a horrible tipper too.

sacjon Jun 18, 2021 01:33 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

VOICE - something we can agree on for once. Saying they "don't try hard" is not only wrong, but insulting. I've had amazing experiences at many restaurants here in town. People, including wait staff, treat you as you treat them. 12:32 sounds like a server's worst nightmare.

a-1624050183 Jun 18, 2021 02:03 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

Cry me a river VOR. All business is a constant challenge to provide an exceptional product. Most Santa Barbara restaurants are mediocre and over priced. And I am an excellent tipper.

a-1624052484 Jun 18, 2021 02:41 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

I am sorry that the truth hurts VOR. Your resort to an ad hominin attack shows the weakness of your character and your ideas. You post here all the time, I suggest that you get a new hobby.

noname Jun 18, 2021 01:40 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

I eat on the Monterey peninsula fairly routinely, and for food, if you only include current businesses, I'd say I've had equally "Very Good" but not "Stellar/Memorable" in both. If service and ambiance are factored in, I'd have to give it to Monterey Peninsula, which has always been big on the theatrical aspect of the dining experience, probably due to it being the center of a significant artist colony for over 100 years. Add in that once the military bases closed, industry has shifted almost exclusively to tourism and retirement support, which a career in the service industry there, a bigger draw. As much as it seems that SB is turned over to tourists, it still has a pretty significant technology sector, that the Monterey Peninsula really doesn't have, so it really doesn't need to be great to support the infrastructure. With their limited personnel resources, neither really has the ability to produce the truly spectacular dining experiences that I routinely have had in LA, or NY or SF or Chicago.

Byzantium Jun 18, 2021 03:24 PM
Restaurant Wars: Santa Barbara vs Monterey

The staff and atmosphere at Downey's was low-key elegant and professionally polished. The food was never particularly inspired, but always offered a fine continental dining experience. Downey's never reached the level of greatness, that Juliene on occasion could provide . But Downey's old world staff training and overall gracious atmosphere always made it the go to special occasion restaurant in this town. Downey's is missed and there is no duplicate - long dinners with their level of hushed quiet are not what one finds much of anywhere, any longer. I hope they are enjoying their well earned retirement and many thanks to Downey and his wife for the many special memories. They were part of the quieter gentler times in Santa Barbara.

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