Back in 2021, when Covid was still a global pandemic, I went to Santa Barbara on January 11 and did a takeout from Opal Restaurant & Bar for a Birthday celebration. The food was so amazing, but there’s no experience like fine dining and sitting down at the restaurant to enjoy it in real time. The piping delicious dishes come presented from the kitchen and a fantastic meal is born. This is pretty much my latest experience at Opal Restaurant & Bar in Santa Barbara.
Here’s What I tried:
Mandarin Ginger Cosmo, with hanger one mandarin vodka, ginger, triple sec, cranberry, lime juice. A nice refreshing drink, it goes down very easily.
Black Berry Jalapeno Margarita, with ghost tequila, blackberry-jalapeno puree, lime juice, cuarenta y tres. This one has a bit of a kick, but delicious just the same.
Classic Vodka Martini, with 2 olives served in a proper martini glass. They did a great job on this favorite cocktail.
Eggplant mushroom cream soup with mushroom croutons. Very creamy and smooth, the perfect way to start my glorious meal.
Opal Classic Caesar Salad, with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano and garlic croutons. The perfect amount of everything, I highly recommend.
Pan Seared Fresh Crab Cake on a sesame beurre blanc,
with tender wild red deep sea crab meat cake, a drizzle of wasabi cream, fresh mango salsa and crispy potato strings. A nice rendition of this seafood classic.
Shredded Phyllo Wrapped Tiger Prawns, flash fried served with coconut curry dipping sauce. On Napa cabbage salad with Mandarin oranges, toasted almonds, julienne vegetables, and our sesame Asian vinaigrette. This is their go-to and it is just the best.
Asian Glazed Flash-Fried Calamari, with baby arugula, and crispy Asian rice noodles. It is done in strips and is light and sweet, just heavenly.
Warm Slow Roasted Duck confit on Portobello Mushroom Ravioli,
with toasted macadamia nuts and sun-dried cherries in a Sage brown butter Sauce. I am a sucker for anything mushroom, so this dish scored high on my culinary list.
Pan Seared Fresh Sea Scallops on warm angel hair pasta.
with watercress, avocado, and a roasted red pepper
vinaigrette. This dish is remarkable, it is neither a pasta dish but more of a salad, and the sweet sauce really brings it all home for me.
Homemade Smoked Chicken Pizza with smoked mozzarella and a chipotle glaze, tomatoes, shaved red onions, and fresh cilantro. Their pizza oven is center stage, so you really need to try any of their pizzas.
Homemade Wild Mushroom Pizza, another fantastic pizza, with pesto, goat cheese, smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, red tomato. arugula, watercress, and gourmet truffle sea salt.
Homemade Basil Fettuccine with sauteed tiger shrimp with homemade pesto, tomatoes, fire roasted red pepper and smoked mozzarella cream sauce. I loved the subtle flavors of the basil fettuccine and, when you add the shrimp, it’s just a real winner.
Vegetable Napoleon, with gorgonzola potato cake, wild mushrooms grilled portobello mushroom, grilled eggplant, sauteed garlic spinach, grilled polenta, roasted red peppers, roasted tomato sauce, fresh grated parmigiana, and Reggiano. This dish is a feat in itself. It is piled very high, and each layer is wonderfully put together. For the vegetarian, it’s an amazing combination for flavors.
Opal’s Paella, with bay scallops, tiger prawns, black mussels, chicken, chorizo sausage*, saffron rice, tomatoes, cilantro, and Anaheim chiles, in a garlic herb broth. The seafood is super fresh, and the flavors are divine.
Herb Grilled Filet Mignon, with whipped truffle butter, Yukon potatoes, sauteed broccoli and green beans and a port wine-Marsala and wild mushroom cream sauce. The cream sauce will make you so happy, and the tenderness of the filet will keep you coming back for more.
Grilled Australian Lamb Chops, with sauteed garlic spinach, whipped Yukon potatoes, rosemary, and sweet onion zinfandel sauce. These are large bone-in lamb chops that do not disappoint.
“Like water for chocolate” Surprise Hint: Belgian Callebaut Dark Chocolate and Raspberries, a delightful chocolate-forward dessert, really great with the Zinfandel.
Tahitian Vanilla bean Creme Brulee, with Rich Custard with a Caramelized Sugar Top. With Fresh Whipped Cream and a Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise. A very rich, creamy, Brulee that really hits the spot.
Homemade Meyer lemon Tartlet, with Meyer lemon sabayon mousse with creme anglaise and fresh berries. I love anything lemon, so this was a nice way to end my remarkable meal.
Opal’s interiors are very warm and welcoming, with large banquets, large bay windows for seating, beam ceilings, a Euro Asian feel alongside Art Nouveau. There are lovely ceiling fans, wood floors, an open kitchen, and the star of the show is a large pizza oven. My very smart server Shannon Kennedy told me that they cook other things besides pizza in their 500-degree pizza oven.
With a track record of over 30 years, owners Tina Takaya and Richard Yates feel the key to a successful restaurant is the passion for creating the highest quality food and service with a commitment to consistently providing that level of quality every time you dine with us. And now they have another amazing place to dine. I have not been to their sister restaurant OKU. I was invited, so you will see that review sometime soon.
What I truly love about Opal Restaurant & Bar is how they treat their customers and how they have sustained such wonderful food through all of the challenges the last years have brought to the restaurant industry. They have a very strong following, some happy eaters come in once a week, others are local, dates, families, all enjoying the fruits of Opals labor on a regular basis. Manager Matt Phar was also very accommodating, he made sure I was happy and satisfied along my delicious culinary journey at Opals. He told me about the charities that Opal supports, as well as all of the community events with their business neighbors, that they participate in. Plus, their waitstaff is seasoned and very interested in their customers. They take great care of all customers like family. My direct neighbors, 2 couples who were completely enjoying their meals. They added just the right amount of conversation from folks that are regular customers, thank you, KellyJane, Jamie, Felipe, and Jane. Their menu is creative and unique. From the moment you walk in you are treated like family, and when their marvelous cuisine hits your taste buds you too will know that you don’t need to look any further for the complete wonderful culinary experience at Opal Restaurant in Santa Barbara, California. The true Santa Barbara gastronomic experience.
Opal Restaurant & Bar
1325 State St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 966-9676
* Note some content was taken off of their website.