Tag Archives: al fresco

Oku

12 Jan

IMG_8542.jpegHappy New Year! It has been nonstop here for the past few months between holidays, work, and taking care of the kiddos. For that reason, I was super excited to get out of the house and try a new restaurant. Oku is the latest restaurant from Tina Takaya of Opal. It sits right on Cabrillo Boulevard with beautiful views of the coastline, especially from the upper patio. When I told our waiter about being a Celiac, he had me list the menu items I was interested in so he could check with the kitchen. Many of the items were made gluten-free by substituting tamari for the soy sauce. Our table got a few dishes to share including the shishito peppers, edamame and chinese long beans.IMG_8545.jpegMy favorite of the three would have to be the shishito peppers.

IMG_8549.jpegI asked about the sashimi carpaccio offerings as well. Our waiter let me know that none of the listed sauces were safe. However, they could substitute pure yuzu as an option. I ordered the yellowtail carpaccio in that style and was happy with the taste. I then ordered some nigiri. The wasabi that they use isn’t fresh wasabi (our waiter told us that it is too expensive), so I ordered it without. I don’t tend to trust wasabi pastes as they can have fillers like wheat starch that are not gluten-free. I also asked about the sushi rolls that they offer. Unfortunately, the restaurant soaks their seaweed in soy sauce so those are off limits. I like having another option for Asian cuisine in Santa Barbara. However, I still wish that we could have one restaurant in town that is totally GF friendly, offers sushi and has a gluten-free fryer like Rice in Manhattan Beach or Yuki Yama in Park City.

La Cocina

28 Aug

IMG_5894.jpgThis month, we decided to try La Cocina which is located in the same beautiful spot that Somerset and Smithy were. I was optimistic since Mexican food is typically easy for Celiacs. However, after talking to our waiter, it seemed that options were a bit limited. Even though they make their corn chips and tortillas in-house, they were not gluten-free because they fry them in contaminated oil. I asked if I could have some tortillas that they didn’t fry but that wasn’t possible for some reason. I started with the Yellowtail Ceviche. We then shared an order of the Charro Bean Dip without the chips.

IMG_5895.jpgNeither of the starting dishes were memorable. Since the tacos and enchiladas were off the table for me, I had the Carne Asada as my main dish. IMG_5897.jpegThis dish was okay but I would try something else if I returned. Sadly, it wasn’t as GF-friendly of an experience as it was when the restaurant was Smithy (remember that GF pasta?! mmmm). I love the outdoor patio here, but I don’t know if that is enough to get me to come back.

Bearclaw Cabin

11 Aug

IMG_6008This past week, we were in Utah attending a work getaway and celebrating my birthday. While a lot of the meals were at the hotel we were staying at, we had some opportunities to venture out and eat some tasty gluten-free food. My favorite meal was without a doubt at Bearclaw Cabin. After taking two chairlifts at Sundance Resort up to a mountaintop lodge, we were rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. And to “top” it off, they served safe nachos. There will be a few posts from Utah and then it will be back to Santa Barbara’s gluten-free offerings. Speaking of which, please let me know if there are any new safe spots for me to try. We’ve been traveling so much this summer, it is hard to keep track of restaurant openings!

Malibu Farm at Miramar

2 Jun

IMG_4445.jpgIf you are looking for good service at the Miramar, your best bet is at Malibu Farm. We’ve now dined there twice with two different servers that were knowledgeable about Celiac all while being attentive and pleasant. I was brought gluten-free bread that they warm separately from their usual bread. It wasn’t particularly good, but it was nice that they had it as an option. We ordered a Cauliflower Crust Pizza for the table as our waiter let us know it could be prepared safely.IMG_4446.jpgPeople seem to be all about cauliflower crust pizzas these days. Although this looked very appealing, it completely fell apart when trying to eat it. I then split the Bacon Lettuce Tomato Kale Caesar with someone in our group.

IMG_4453.jpgAlthough the dressing was a bit plentiful, I enjoyed the taste of the salad. Bacon always seems to make things better. Even though I was getting a bit full at this point, I was glad that I ordered the Crispy Baked Whole Fish Tacos.

IMG_4456.jpgThey prepared the corn tortillas in a safe spot for me to ensure no cross contamination. The fish was perfectly crisp and flavorful. This was my favorite part of the meal aside from the good company and tasty spicy tequila beverage I had.

Lunch at El Encanto

18 May

IMG_4435.jpegI had lunch with my family today at El Encanto. As soon as I mentioned to our waiter that both my brother and I have Celiac, he excused himself to alert the kitchen. I started with the Yellowtail Crudo. The quality of the fish was good and the olives were tasty but the chili, basil and lemon flavors that were supposed to accompany the yellowtail were nonexistent. I had the Caesar Salad without the garlic croutons as my main dish.

IMG_4439.jpegThe amount of buttermilk caesar dressing and shaved parmesan was just right. It was a bit overcast today, but you could still make out the ocean which served as a reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot.

Sage

12 May

IMG_4271.jpegTwice a year, I make the pilgrimage to Ojai to get my hair done. While I have friends that think it is crazy to drive 45 minutes when there are plenty of salons in Santa Barbara, I look forward to the trips. The drive takes you past Lake Casitas with beautiful views of the mountains and I can always be sure that a healthy, gluten-free restaurant will be found. This trip, my hair stylist let me know about Sage, a newly opened restaurant serving “mindful meals and elixirs”. After finishing up at Rise, the cutest hair salon there ever was, I headed to Sage. While ordering at the counter, the cashier knew exactly what Celiac was. She informed me that it is a shared kitchen so there is a risk. She also let me know that they make their own GF bread. They use the same pans that they use for their regular bread, but the pans have been cleaned prior to use. I ordered the Ojai Greens Bowl. It had sunflower seeds, buckwheat and a forbidden rice medley with local greens, green goddess dressing, pickled onion and pickled mushroom. With the bowl, I was able to choose two roasted vegetables so I selected the Brussels Sprouts and Beets. I also was able to choose a protein. I picked the Salmon Sashimi. I ordered a side of the gluten-free naan as well.

IMG_4275.jpegEverything in the bowl was super fresh and satisfying. There was the perfect amount of dressing and the portion was just right. The naan was served warm which was a pleasant surprise. I would definitely go back to Sage on a return trip to Ojai.

Caruso’s

5 May

IMG_4201.jpgLast week, I joined friends that are like family at Caruso’s. This was my first time dining at the Miramar Hotel’s signature restaurant, but not my first time at the resort. My previous experiences at the The Manor Bar and the Miramar Beach Bar were disappointing due to dismal service. However, the newest hotel in the area is beautiful and worth checking out for the views alone. Caruso’s is situated right on the water. Even if it is chilly, I’d recommend sitting on the outside patio. They have ample heaters and it seems silly to be so close to the ocean yet choose to dine inside. While speaking with our waiter about my dietary needs and asking for recommendations, he wasn’t entirely helpful. He proclaimed that this was the best restaurant in Santa Barbara but it was tough to get guidance from him. I asked if they had gluten-free bread and was told that they did have some that would be safe for me. When it arrived, I had to ask for my own oil though as they hadn’t anticipated that I would need a separate one. When they served an amuse-bouche, the server wasn’t sure if it was gluten-free and had to double check (it was). I started with the Little Gem Caesar without the croutons.

IMG_4204.jpegI really liked the salad. It sort of reminded me of the now defunct Arlington Tavern’s caesar salad. For my main course, I had the Pan Roasted Channel Island Halibut.

IMG_4206.jpegI thought this was okay. It didn’t have much flavor. Overall, the setting of the restaurant was unbelievably beautiful. However, I felt that the food and service were not on par with Bella Vista at the Four Seasons. I had to ask for water five times which may sound silly, but for the “best restaurant in Santa Barbara”, it was a bit annoying.

Due Lune

28 Apr

IMG_4059.jpegTre Lune in Montecito has been a family favorite of ours for the past decade. We’ve enjoyed countless meals there as they have always taken care of our multitude of dietary restrictions while serving up delicious food. Because of that, we were looking forward to trying their new location, Due Lune located at State and Cabrillo. There are great views of the water from both inside and their patio. It was a windy night so we opted for a window seat inside. I started with the Garden Party Salad which had kale, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, goat cheese, pear, cranberries and walnuts. The ingredients were very fresh, however there was too much balsamic on it for my liking. It was also a much larger portion than I had anticipated.

IMG_4062.jpegJust like Tre Lune, they have gluten-free pasta available as a substitute for their pasta dishes. After speaking with our waiter, he confirmed that they would cook the gluten-free pasta in a clean pot and use a clean colander. I ordered their bolognese which similar to the salad, was enough to feed 2 people. Is it just me, or is a huge portion unappealing? Although there was nothing wrong with the dish, I would probably try something else if I were to go back. 

Khao Kaeng

21 Apr

IMG_4079.jpegNow that it is starting to warm up, it is always nice to find a new restaurant to dine at that has an outdoor patio. A friend and I decided to try Khao Kaeng in Montecito which is located in the old Scoop location. I have enjoyed meals at their sister restaurant, Empty Bowls at the Public Market, so my expectations were high. After our waiter checked with the kitchen, I was able to confirm that the Larb Mushrooms and Pad Thai could be prepared safe for me. The mushrooms had a subtle heat to them which gave the dish a nice flavor.IMG_4082.jpegI ordered the Pad Thai with shrimp which was a pretty sizable portion. Even though the waiter checked with the chef to see what would be safe, I felt more comfortable eating at the noodle bar at the Public Market since everything was right in front of me. I think it was also because at the Public Market, I was able to speak with the owner directly whereas here, it was clear that the waiter wasn’t as knowledgeable about cross contamination until he spoke with the kitchen.