Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 1 - Spiritland Bistro, Santa Barbara

Let's just start with the best, shall we? I'm going to cut to the chase - nothing beats out my beloved Spiritland Bistro in Santa Barbara. To give a little backstory on this, the bf and I once took the 101 on the way back from a weekend trip to SF just for Spiritland. We could've gone on the 5. We could've saved ourselves the extra two hours by avoiding the detour. We could've eaten more at the wedding reception earlier that day. We could've stopped for a light snack on the way down. Nope, we were racing against the clock to make it to Spiritland before they closed at 9p that Sunday, and we were saving room in our bellies for SPIRITLAND. Oh it was tasty, and worth every sacrifice.

Ambience: Simple and quaint. The restaurant feels like you're inside a small house, adorned with tea lights and miniature vases of fresh cut flowers. Being a few blocks south of the touristy State St. in Santa Barbara, it's a gem that's easily missed.

Reservations: Yes, and suggested on weekends due to the small capacity.

Parking: Street parking, but it's easy to get a spot.

The Food: They describe themselves as serving "organic global cuisine." There's a Mediterranean, Italian, Asian and even Carribbean influence on their menu. I've loved almost every dish I've tried there (and boy there are still so many more I want to try), but here are some of my favorites:

- Carribbean Curried Sweet Potato Soup - light and slightly creamy, just bursting with flavor

- French lentil walnut & wild mushroom pate - An absolute MUST try. This opened up the world of lentils to me (not a bean or lentil fan).

- Venetian Polenta Cakes - The flavors were definitely a surprise, but it's fresh and flavorful.

-Thai coconut curry - Tastes straight out of the garden

- Italian Grilled Avocado & Tomato - Who would've ever thought to grill avocados? Well worth the try, and the dressing is divine.

- Flourless chocolate cake with beet reduction - I'm not a beets fan. Yuck. But when Spiritland pairs it with their chocolate cake, you get a little slice of heaven right there.

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