Stella Mare’s Restaurant Review @ Santa Barbara

Stella Mares Santa Barbara | JustOneCookbook.comNami was really happy to receive your birthday wishes and she is dealing with quite a bit of email from readers on her previous post so I’m here to rescue.  By the way, I’m Nami’s husband Shen and I occasionally write restaurant reviews on Just One Cookbook.

It’s been a while since last time I wrote a review on Din Tai Fung in Los Angels.  I’m very excited about this month’s review and want to share the wonderful experience we had at Stella Mare’s Restaurant in Sana Barbara.

Earlier this year during the summer, we took a trip with close friends of ours down to Oxnard, an hour and a half away from Santa Barbara.  We stayed at the Embassy Suite which was perfect for a family vacation.  The hotel itself is located right on the beach and there are plenty of family activities to do in the area for both adults and children.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

Nearby the hotel there is a great park with pirate ships and make-believe canons.  The few days down there was a complete eat feast as we tackled the Chowhound recommended restaurants including HC Seafood.  On our way back to San Francisco, we stopped by Santa Barbara for lunch and based on follow Chowhound’s recommendation, we decided on Stella Mare’s.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

With its quaint exterior and exterior, Stella Mare’s looks as if belongs more on a country road in Europe than in Santa Barbara.  The actual building itself was built in 1872 and moved to the current location in 1962.  The front of the restaurant had beautiful planter boxes with flowers in full bloom and the door was painted a very welcoming red.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The interior of the restaurant was divided into a few large rooms and a couple private dining rooms.  We had 5 children with us and were luckily accommodated in one of the private dining rooms.  Before I start reviewing the food, I want to mention the service we received was just amazing.  I was really impressed with the amount of attention the workers paid to the patrons and we felt extremely welcome, even with many noisy children.  Sitting in the rustic dining room and looking out the sunny window, the ambiance was very relaxing and a perfect end to our vacation.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

Since we had a large party we got to tried many dishes that day.  The restaurant’s bread service was paired with rosemary butter and it was delicious.  I think the children must have easily gone through at least 6 or 7 baskets of bread.

Other starters we had included the chopped salad, French onion soup, endive and apple salad, and escargot.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The chopped salad was very refreshing with a hint of horseradish.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The French onion soup was very flavorful with soft cooked onion that practically melted in your mouth.  The soup stock was not too heavy and it was covered with plenty of cheese (just the way I love them).

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

Besides the chopped salad we also had the endive and apple salad and it was very good.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The only slight disappointment was the escargot.  I love really strong garlic sauce and this one was a bit blend.

For entrée we had crab melt, the crepe, coq au vin, salmon, and the chicken salad.  Everything was delightful and very satisfying to palate.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The mayo in the crab melt didn’t overpower the sandwich and you could taste the real crab in the crab melt.  The crab melt had a kick of bell pepper in the flavor making it very interesting.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The crepe texture was very refined and smooth and paired very well with the mixed green on the side.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The coq au vin was very tender and each bite brings a bit of warmth to your heart.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

The salmon skin was crispy was advertised and the meat was done just right and not dried and overcooked.

Stella Mare's Restaurant Review | Just One Cookbook.com

Lastly the chicken salad tasted if it was made with Japanese mayo (which we love) and tartness of the honey mustard vinaigrette finished the dish perfectly.

It was a fantastic ending to our very fun trip, being able to enjoy a splendid meal with our buddies in such a beautiful setting.  If you are visiting Santa Barbara, we high recommend Stella Mare’s Restaurant for great food and a relaxing time.

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  1. The nice thing about going to a restaurant with a large party is the prospect of sampling more dishes, which you definitely did. Great review, Shen! Please wish Nami well for me.

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  2. Kimmi

    Thanks for sharing the insightful review and the gorgeous photographs of the dishes! Even though it’s just morning over here on the east coast, I’m getting hungry just by looking at the French onion soup and coq au vin. =)

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  3. Hi Shen, nice to meet you!! Nami and you make a fabulous team. I have spoken to her about her wonderful photography and she says you play an important role in all of that. Great job!! This trip to SB looks wonderful. The restaurant looks so quaint and just lovely. Love the review… wish I could visit it someday. :)

    Wishing you and Nami a wonderful weekend. :)

    ~ Ramona

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  4. Happy Birthday, Nami ~ I’m sorry I must have missed greeting you with the storm Sandy hitting us here in the east coast, losing power and all. Hope you had a nice birthday celebration with your family. May you be blessed with many more wonderful birthdays! Thanks for this nice restaurant review & gorgeous photos, Nami’s husband! I would love to go to this restaurant if I’m ever in the Santa Barbara area — must bookmark this. Happy weekend to all of you!

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  5. Hmm, submitted a comment and I’m not sure if it went through. So if this is a duplicate, please remove! Anyway, super review. Santa Barbara is such a nice place to visit, and the restaurant looks great. I love their food presentation – the coq au vin in particular had such nice plating. Excellent job with the review – thank you.

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  6. Shen, I always look forward to your reviews!! Santa Barbara is a beautiful place, isn’t it? I’ve not eaten at this restaurant, but it’s not on my “to visit” list on our next trip. I’m loving that endive apple salad!
    Love that Embassy too!

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  7. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    I love Santa Barbara – very relaxing and lovely. What a nice pick for getaway and those pictures…lovely!

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  8. Eha

    Thank you, Shen for a lovely and appetizing description of this charming restaurant: cosy and welcoming! I love restaurants with a multiplicity of rooms leading to a homelike atmosphere obvious in the photos here.

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  9. The restaurant sounds like a paradise on earth! I would love to taste every single dish and I would certainly devour coq au vin. I am a big fan of snails so I imagine how disappointed you were if the garlic and herb butter wasn’t garlicky… (I always order snails as a starter in French traditional restaurants, unless I have foie gras 😉 ). I don’t know how you have managed to take such professional photos in a restaurant. You are really the best!
    I think they should use the first photo as an advertisement. It’s perfect.

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  10. Thanks for this review! I was interested to read it, since I live in Santa Barbara, and I remember Nami e-mailed me that your family had tried out this restaurant when you were passing through town… I can’t believe I’ve still never been there, but I will try to go soon– for some special occasion! : )

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  11. I’ve never found a miss on Chowhound yet! What an awesome meal and a great environment! Everything looks fabulous from the salad to the entrees! And how on earth did you manage to get such great pictures!

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  12. Karen (Back Road Journal)

    It looks like the recommendation for lunch at Stella Mares was a good one. Oh, and belated Happy Birthday wishes, Nami.

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  13. Hello Shen! I hope Nami had a wonderful Halloween/Birthday :) Our youngest son plans to apply to UC Santa Barbara so I took notice when I saw your review. This restaurant really does look so quaint. I just love the look of it. What a delicious menu. You guys really made some good choices. We will be looking for places to go out to eat when we visit him so maybe one of these days we will be able to visit.

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  14. Hello Shen, wonderful review of a terrific restaurant – the pictures are great but (apart from the food), I really like the picture of the yellow and white cupboard! And I like the fact that you mentioned that the staff was nice, particularly with all the kids!

    Have a good week! Looking forward to your next review!

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  15. Shen, you have a knack of making us want to turn up to the places you visit and this is no exception. It says so much to have attentive, friendly staff if you’re also with 5 ‘noisy’ children! The dishes look rather tempting… now we just need to find an excuse to come to CA…

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  16. Looks like a great place to stop in Santa Barbara. I used to live in San Luis Obispo and remember how many wonderful beaches and places to eat from Santa Barbara on up.

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  17. The pictures are lovely and the food looks delicious- I’m putting Stella Mare’s restaurant on my list of places to try in Santa Barbara-thanks for the review;-)

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    • Hi LL! Now I am happy that you had the review! It was my pre-blogging days that I didn’t know your post about this restaurant. I enjoyed your review. As always take the best pictures at restaurant! Thanks for the link!

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