Nami 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 Angeles. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The chopped salad was very refreshing with a hint of horseradish.
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).
Besides the chopped salad we also had the endive and apple salad and it was very good.
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.
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.
The crepe texture was very refined and smooth and paired very well with the mixed green on the side.
The coq au vin was very tender and each bite brings a bit of warmth to your heart.
The salmon skin was crispy was advertised and the meat was done just right and not dried and overcooked.
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.