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Benchmark Eatery
1201 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 845-2600

Reviews by the General Public

Reviewer: CC from Santa Barbara, CA
I went to the Benchmark Eatery for the first time with a friend and everything was fantastic! Our server, Amber, was very friendly and attentive. We enjoyed the fried chickpeas and both our meals, the burger and the salmon, were wonderful. I also really loved the Pimms, which had a great ginger taste. I will definitely be going back frequently!

Better Than The Reviews Suggest All Around
Reviewer: Rob from Santa Barbara, CA
Read all of the reviews, people complaining that it's too noisy, food not as good, blah blah blah. Went here for the first time last night, tried a lot of different things, the half chicken, fish & chips, steak frites, banana split, churros & dark chocolate, etc. Everything was absolutely wonderful, it was NOT too loud, service was incredibly friendly and great. If I had to pick something to wank about, the kitchen seemed slow, we wondered why dessert took so long to come out, but we didn't care because we were having a good time. We will most definitely be back.

Good service, food needs work
Reviewer: Jean from Santa Barbara, CA
Ate here the other night with my husband. The service was wonderful and the atmosphere was nice. We shared a grilled wedge salad which was very yummy, but the entree was a different story. While my husband's steak was good, the sliced pork sandwich was awful. Too fatty and didn't taste good at all. Made me wish I had just ordered a burger instead.

Great service, but really boring food.
Reviewer: Nicholle from Santa Barbara, CA
Our server was very attentive and kind. We were a large group of 10 including two kids under a year old. They sat us in the alcove behind the server's station, which was fine, but that table setup is in an awkward L shape and was quite cramped for all of us. The food was super bland. I'm not one to heavily season my food, but this was bland bland bland. My husband had the friend chicken sandwich and said it lacked flavor. I had the margherita pizza and a salad. The salad was great, very fresh. The pizza sorely lacked flavor and I found myself using table salt to try to jazz it up. Others at our table ordered the gnudi which was very good, and the onion rings weren't bad. I think this place has potential, but they're terrified of salt, apparently. Hopefully this will improve with time.

Basic dishes are a bit convoluted
Reviewer: Al from Santa Barbara, CA
Even though the service was good, food not so much. Carnitas tacos had pickles in them which ruined it. Not such a fan of the fried Chickpeas as well they provide for every table. Good old fashioned bread would do just fine.

Benchmark not even close
Reviewer: B from Santa Barbara, CA
We went in on Wednesday for a first visit. I had read the comments about the excessive noise and mediocre food but I wanted to see/hear/taste for myself. First the noise. As we walked down Anapamu towards the restaurant noise was pouring out of the patio onto the street, not the usual State and A noise. Inside, the noise is of course worse. It's like The Brewhouse turned up to 11. The concrete floors and blank walls just bounce the sounds around your head. Outside isn't much better because the roof is no longer open air. I brought earplugs as a joke. I'm not some whiny crank, I've been to plenty of upbeat lively restaurants, but like others have written this is painfully loud. On to the food. Yeah, the chickpeas are good. Everything else brought to table was just bland and sometimes just horrible combinations of flavors. My celery root slaw served with the short rib was bitter and had a light wash of mayo juice. The Veggie Sopes were boring and uninspired. In the end my entire party agreed it was one of the worst dining experiences we've all had in a while, and we eat out quite a bit (and not just SB). I felt is was humane to warn people about this place.

great service and prices, food can use improvement
Reviewer: RC from Santa Barbara, CA
have tried it a few times now, and the dishes are hit and miss! burger was great (and at a great price too), pizza sounded good but the sauce was very bland. would be great to have some simple greens instead of fries with everything. they're headed in the right direction, and the servers are all VERY nice and earn their tips. drinks are very good too - just keep pushing the food to have more flavor and thought

Hoping for improvement
Reviewer: JG from Santa Barbara, CA
Like many people, I was looking forward to trying the new restaurant in this iconic location, so I went with my wife and daughter for a late lunch on Saturday. I have to say I was not won over by the experience. My wife asked for an inside table, but just walking through the dining room the noise level actually hurt my ears - and it wasn't particularly busy. So I asked that they seat us on the patio where the sound level was more bearable. The hostess and wait staff were all very friendly and attentive. The complimentary fried garbanzos were a nice start. I ordered a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Though the BBQ sauce was tasty, the sandwich was over-sauced and it overwhelmed everything else. I could not taste the pork or the slaw in the sandwich. Might I suggest a very light dressing of sauce on the sandwich and a ramekin of sauce on the side for those who like to drench. My wife had the fried chicken sandwich which was just bland. The menu did not offer a choice of sides with the sandwiches, nor even indicate that they came with any side. Each came with a large heap of french fries which were OK. But had I known they were included I would have requested a substitution or asked that they just be left off. My daughter ordered the fish and chips. The fish tasted fine, but was a bit greasy. The tarter sauce was flavorless. The accompanying slaw was a disaster, both flavorless and poorly mixed so that there was a large clump of tasteless mayo-like dressing in the middle of a pile of undressed slaw. On the positive side, the ingredients were all obviously top quality and fresh. So if the kitchen gets a handle on seasoning, the food could be excellent. We'll let them work out the kinks and give them another try in a few weeks. ...and insist on a patio table.

First visit 8/2/2014
Reviewer: Deb from Santa Barbara, CA
Our server Michael was excellent. They were serving a limited menu during Fiesta. I had the fish and chips. Fish was over cooked but the biggest disappointment was the tartar sauce. It was awful. The 5 others in our group had carnitas tacos which were so,so. Will allow them time to get dialed and try again. Really want them to succeed!!

Lots of potential, mostly positive experience
Reviewer: Eric from Santa Barbara, CA
I had dinner with a friend at benchmark and enjoyed the food. The complimentary fried garbanzos were a nice touch though I think they would be even better with some rosemary and a little less salt. I was disappointed in my margarita ($10) as it was rather plain and not filled up all the way. The ice level was above the rim while the drink level was considerably below the rim. My fish and chips were light, crispy and very nice. The cole slaw was unappealing however. The hot wings had a tasty, interesting sauce but IMO, needed to be much more crispy. My friend enjoyed his steak and it was a generous portion. The team approach to service was very effective, always someone checking up on us, refilling waters from our table carafe and clearing away unwanted dishes. I'll def be back!

Very Disappointing
Reviewer: Simon from Santa Barbara, CA
I have know the locaction for years and was very excited by the prospect of a Brophy's owned establishiment in this area. We were treated well by staff as we waited for a table. The place is clean and attractive. Once we sat down we reazlized that the noise level was beyond acceptable. We literally could not hear the person on the other side of the table and my ears actually hurt. Note that I never, even when others do, have a problem with noise levels in restaurants. The staff was super helpful and moved us to a "quieter" table where we could hear one another yet the noise level remained unbearable. Now for the food, there were several of us and I tried five different foods. A chicken salad (my order) was by far the best thing we had which was bland but fresh and felt good after eating. I tried a kale salad which literally tasted like a bag of kale. The dressing was bland and the additional prochuto (sic) and other items were essentially nonexistent with it just tasking like raw kale. Fried chicken and fried chicken sandwhich were bland beyond belief and the pizza was doughy and without flavor. So, I would agree with some of the other comments that the kitchen as a LOT of work ahead of them. However, the food is definately repairable as the location remains spectacular. As for noise, they need some softer materials added and perhaps some acoustics in the ceiling to absorb.

Noisy with Good Food & Atmosphere
Reviewer: Kelly from Santa Barbara, CA
We ate here on a Sunday before a concert. It was busy with others also going to the same show; service was slow to begin with but improved once the shift change was over. We wanted to sit on the patio but there was a wait so we ate inside due to time considerations. Unfortunately, the noise level when sitting inside is very loud, making conversation difficult. I'd suggest that the owners do anything/everything possible to address this issue as they are going to lose business because of it. Love the open look and the decor - the barstools have a cool industrial look. The drinks were good but servers need to let you know that the rotating handle beer will come in a small glass while all the rest of the beers are a normal sized pint. Those of us drinking cocktails liked our drinks - their magarita with smokey sea salt rim is great. We all enjoyed our food - fish tacos on the appetizer menu are a steal at $6 and plenty of food; carnitas tacos on the main menu are more but you get 3 tacos instead of 2 and they are delish. Pulled pork sandwich was good but the tuna melt needed more flavor. All of us loved the fried chickpea appetizer - a nice, creative and addictive little snack. I think Benchmark will be sticking around for quite a while - much better than the previous restaurant which was not in tune with Santa Barbara at all.

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