Santa Barbara > Restaurants > Square One
Omni Catering

Square One
No longer in business
Opened: 2005-11 Closed: 2011-04

14 E. Cota St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 965-4565

Reviews by the General Public

Something for everyone!, 2/20/2011
Reviewer: Fields from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I have been to Square One a couple times and enjoyed each experience. Last night, we decided to take our children and three of their friends, ranging in age from 7-10 years. I was a little concerned whether the kids would find something they wanted, but everyone found just what they were craving: rosemary french fries, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, burger, seabass, and even NY steak. The service was great, as always, and the seven of us had a fantastic evening out! I love that there is something for vegetarians, omnivores, and children alike. But my favorite part of Square One, and the reason we keep coming back, is that they use locally harvested food in their preparations. It's a true testament to their values and mission to see them produce shopping at the farmer's market. Thank you, Square One!

Felt compelled to write, 12/6/2010
Reviewer: ChristineK from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I went for the first time for my birthday, Fri Nov 19. We were struck by great flavors in all our dishes and very nice service. When we were seated we were told about a fried calamari dish that sounded terrific, and ordered it and pate. The waitress came back in just a couple of minutes to say she'd made a mistake and the calamari was not available - we just skipped it. Pate was great. Then a surprise dish arrived from the chef – we were told she felt bad for the miscommunication and prepared fried tiny green peppers that seemed fire-roasted before the fry, with the aioli from the calamari dish (we'd expressed our interest specifically in that). It was a lovely gesture and we really liked the dish, esp that aioli! I got the steak, which was cooked to perfection medium-rare. It had mashed potatoes on the side that were a tad salty (not a problem for my taste buds) and "creamed spinach" which was nicely light and not overcooked/overdrenched in sauce. My husband got the quail that had a maple-type sauce and we can't remember the sides but he cleaned his plate. I couldn’t finish my steak so we switched plates and gave him the last third of my steak. (Therefore I concede that particular quail dish was a small serving.) Dessert was 3 homemade scoops of ice cream that blew our minds. Pumpkin pie (and I swear I could taste the flavor of graham cracker crust), peanut butter n chocolate, and almond-fig which tasted like marzipan. We each had 2 glasses of wine (no liquor license) and tap water. My only tiny gripe (that should be used constructively) would be to get a wine fridge to chill the whites to a proper temp, I thought they were too cold. Seriously, that's my only "negative" and it's not even negative! There were two waitresses who serviced our table "tag team" style and they were both friendly without being pushy or overbearing. Seemed like genuine, nice, friendly gals. We did see the cook in her TINY kitchen and she came out to say hi to another table - we wished she'd stopped at our table so we could tell her what a wonderful evening we'd had. I'm very surprised by these negative reviews but maybe everyone has an "off" day? Our bill was $115 AFTER tax and tip! For 1 app (one was gratis), 2 mains, 1 dessert and 4 glasses of wine!

Fake Reviews?, 12/6/2010
Reviewer: BSDetector from Santa Barbara, CA
No reviews for a month, then suddenly a whole handful of negative ones that sound eerily similar? Sounds like someone has a bone to pick with Square One and instead of being adults and contacting them over their issue they have resorted to trashing them anonymously online.

let down like the others, 12/6/2010
Reviewer: Elizabeth Webster from Santa Barbara, CA
I agree with the reviews below. I have been to square one on several occasions and always diappointed and hungry when I leave. Portions are tiny and lack much of anything. Not to mention the staff and chef are not exceptionally friendly. The decor is nice though and lighting fantastic, but don't go if you are looking to eat.

Some people actually like this restaurant?!!?!!?, 12/5/2010
Reviewer: Cecilia from Santa Barbara, CA
Was told by several people in town that this was a great spot to go with inventive dishes; they were all wrong! The food was something out of a late night bar with extremly salty chicken & the lamb ragu tasted like a bowl of sugar slop. Our last dish even came to us cold. On the service side; it took 25 mins. to get a drink & our wine order came 20 mins. after our food arrived. There was no apology for terrible service & the open kitchen shows a mean women with pink hair throwing stuff around and socializing instead of worrying about making edible food. Will not be returning; save your money!!!!

whats all the stars for ?, 12/4/2010
Reviewer: sammy taylor from Santa Barbara, CA
over priced food and wine . food to salty and boring . not what i expected at all . maybe some people get better meals than others ? will not be back .

a limited menu, 12/3/2010
Reviewer: Nora from Santa Barbara, CA
First, take note of the fact that everything you read about the menu in the reviews here is null and void because they have just debuted a new and quite limited menu. One chicken dish, fried. One fish dish, fried (crab cakes). Hamburger with options for different toppings. Steak. Lamb ragu. Special pasta, varies by evening (or week?). And that is it. Vegetarians have limited options (the vegetable side came with a duck confit!), so much so that there is literally not one salad without meat on offer, though the chef is apparently willing to prepare any salad with a vegetarian dressing, which has to be acknowledged. Most of the menu space is devoted to drinks and small things one eats with drinks (nuts, fries). I am not so interested in returning.

My favorite place, 11/12/2010
Reviewer: Ed from Santa Barbara, CA
I have eaten here 4 times and continue to be impressed. I always see the Square One crew at the Farmer's Market, and the food represents this. I think the food is creative, but not too funky. My duck last night was outstanding. I think the key to this place is consistency, every dish we have had, except one, has been excellent. The dud was a pumpkin ravioli with a sauce that was a bit too sweet. But they always have several great salads and a great selection of entrees. And the wine list, although small, is well selected and priced right. I will be back.

One of SB's finest. Don't let this one pass you by, 10/15/2010
Reviewer: David from Santa Barbara, CA
My friend lemonjelly has been giving me regular reports on her Square One adventures for over a year now. Finally, I gave in and went to dinner there last night. We sat at the bar and had a great time. The space is just the right size, not too big, not too small. The music is interesting enough to make you wonder what exactly you're listening to (if you decide to pay attention), but chill enough to fade in the background if you don't want to be distracted. We ordered the duck pate for starters and we both really liked the slightly sweet notes. The onions, which you expect to be picked but aren't, combined with the pate, in your mouth, produces an Asian flavor. This was really interesting but neither my companion or I could put our fingers on it. We had the duck and steak for our mains. My friend really enjoyed her duck. I tried some and thought it was cooked perfectly, along with the crispy skin. The accompaniments were great as well. I liked the play on textures with the candied nuts. My steak was cooked medium-rare as I requested. Most restaurants overcook steaks, I feel. There were a handful of grisly and tough-to-chew parts in the steak, but that's not really something the restaurant could have foreseen. We had the butterscotch beinets and they were great. We detected a citrusy hint and confirmed with the chef - yup, tangerine. My two minor gripes with the evening: 1) We were charged $1 for an extra plate of thinly (1/4" max) slices toasts for our duck pate. The dish originally comes with about 5 slices and unless you are the kind to put a 1.5" square medallion of pate on your toast (which is unable to handle the weight), you would need more bread. I think this is poor planning on the restaurants part because it forces the consumer into a position of having to ask for more bread. Then they get charged for it. On one hand, it's just a dollar. On the other hand, if it's just a dollar, why not just give it to me? Or better yet, give me more toast to begin with. I want to know how many diners DON'T need more than the initial five pieces. 2) I feel that the chef consistently has a heavy hand in salting. This is not a complaint that one particular component was too salty. That would point to a fluke, an inconsistency. But instead, every single thing I tried on the two mains, including the steak, duck, mash, etc were all heavily salted. This is a matter of personal opinion of course. I am not at all health conscious or sensitive to sodium. Just an observation about the chef's particular style.

You must try this place!, 9/11/2010
Reviewer: Bob from Santa Barbara, CA
I can't walk by Square One and not want to go in for their truffle mashed potatoes. The portions are generous and the price is just right! Chef is amazing and puts her heart into every plate. They support the local economy by buying local and that in itself tells a lot about the integrity of the restaurant. If you live in, visit or just drive through Santa Barbara, you do not want to pass this place up!!!!

A Singular Dining Experience, 8/26/2010
Reviewer: Tyler from Santa Barbara, CA
We have eaten at almost every nice restaurant in the county and, after our second visit, I can say without a shadow of the doubt that Square One is the best restaurant in town. The attention that goes into every detail of the cuisine by Chef Pink is on another level than what most people are used to. Nothing is ordinary. The chicken with shallot jus is the chicken you wish you could have every time. The gnocchi with lamb ragu had everyone's eyes rolling back in their heads. The steaks were gigantic portions and perfectly prepared. The duck pate is almost too good. Desserts were divine as well. The ambience creates a bubble of comfort blended with a hip, urban feel. Best of all perhaps: the value! Nothing is over $19 and no bottle of wine is over $50. There is no reason why this place shouldn't have a line out the door every night.

a true gem in Santa Barbara, 8/21/2010
Reviewer: Heather from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I just went to Square One tonight on a date away from our baby. I have to say that I was doubting that Santa Barbara had a restaurant like this. On our trips to the Bay area, Napa, and New York, we have frequently commented that Santa Barbara doesn't have the quality of food we could find in those places. We were amazed that we could enjoy local, sustainable food that was so delicious at such affordable prices. The sweet potato gnocchi with a lamb ragout that was braised with brown sugar and tangerine zest for 3 days to bring out the rich flavors and sweetness was unbelievable. We will be returning here over and over again, and look forward to seeing what the chef puts on the menu next!

Three Years Old, 4/18/2010
Reviewer: Richard from Santa Barbara, CA
The good review for this restaurant prompted me to check it out. However, I see the menus on their website are from 2006 and 2007. Also, the reservations link is not working. Not a good first impression for a would-be patron.

Fantastic, 4/17/2010
Reviewer: Kat from Santa Barbara, CA
Unbelievable food and service. Lovely room and decor. Stopped in tonight and will be back soon. The new chef is spot on with flavors, textures and depth of flavor. Wine list extremely reasonable. One of the best spots for food in SB right now.

Phenomenal!!, 2/18/2010
Reviewer: Katie C. from Santa Barbara, CA
We've been coming here for the last three months (maybe 6 times?) and had never been to Square One before. We'd heard that the previous chef was gone (as were the MUCH higher priced entrees which had prev been up to $6o). The new chef, Ms. Crystal Harris, is absolutely phenomenal and has created a spot that is definitely our favorite restaurant in town now - hands down. She has a way of combining textures, flavors and spices that really allow the food to be showcased in such a way that you will often put your fork down and close your eyes in order to savor each bite to the fullest. The highest price for an entree is now $19!! Truly magnificent. They also purchase delicious fruits, veggies and local meats from the Farmer's Markets and other local vendors, which we really like. I feel like I shouldn't be telling everyone about this because I don't really want to have any difficulty getting a table, but I would really love to see this place so busy that they have to move their location to a spot where they can serve more folks. Everyone should be able to get food this good for such great prices in SB!!! I'm really being altruistic here. We also sneaked in twice without Ms. Harris seeing us just to find out if she would prepare our food any differently, knowing we were there. No change. Always exceptional, always amazing, even dessert. My suggestion is to get the soup!! It starts the whole experience off right, in my opinion. We LOVE Square One!!!

A Restaurant Fit for a Virgo!, 12/12/2009
Reviewer: Jennifer from Santa Barbara, CA
My beloved and I dined at Square One for the first time last night. I'll start with the ambiance--tre magnifique! Low lighting, Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background--what more could one want for an intimate and romantic dinner for two? I had the butterleaf salad with bleu cheese dressing and bacon bits to start--fresh and crispy and delish (albeit a tad too salty). My beau had the confit salad and loved it. After this we had the ravioli--excellent and capped it off with their chocolate dessert. I'd walked by in the past--intrigued but not brave enough to cough up the high-ticket prices. Having heard that the prices are now more reasonable was the impetus to finally have a go at this place. They say it's run by two Virgos and I can totally see why--every detail is paid attention to the nth degree. Bon apetit!

Jewel of a Venue, 12/11/2009
Reviewer: Mark from Santa Barbara, CA
This gem, nestled in the off-state restaurant row of Cota st., has become one of our favorite regular spots for fine dining. Presentations, combinations of flavors, selection all delicious and inspired. Don't expect a quick meal, this is an experience to be savored over courses though they will accommodate you if you let them know of a deadline, not my favorite tack considering the time it takes to really enjoy the experience.

Birthday (belated) Dinner at Square One, 10/30/2009
Reviewer: Meridith Moore from Santa Barbara, CA
A friend asked me to a belated dinner for my birthday and I got to pick the restaurant. I picked Square One and am 100% glad I did. The service was just right, the decor clean and simple with uniquely attractive lighting. The place is spotlessly clean including the restroom. Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc by the glass, so good! All the food we ate was delicous, tweaked just enough to be unique, and very affordable! I highly recommend Square One for casual to special event dining!

Tickled Pink, 10/20/2009
Reviewer: Joshua Jones from Santa Barbara, CA
I can't really explain quite how much we enjoyed our evening at Square One. We went with quite a few friends last Saturday. Every one of us (10+) had nothing but great things to say about our meals. I had the short ribs and was floored. It's easy to not expect much from a celery root puree, but the heck was it that good? The atmosphere is simple and elegant, like the food. We found Chef Pink at her last restaurant. We didn't think she could impress us any more than she already has, but the lady never fails to amaze us with her culinary expertise. She uses simple ingredients - all fresh from the local farmer's markets - and creates mind-blowing flavors. We love it and will follow her wherever she goes.

Disappointed, 8/19/2009
Reviewer: Joan from Santa Barbara, CA
I dined at Square One last night and I am so very sad to say that I was extremely disappointed. The server was fine if having a bit of a flat personality. The cheese plate was delicious. Best thing about the enire meal. Glass of wine was nice (Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend). I got the salmon with a crispy zucchini blossom. Salmon was cooked well on a bed of stewed onion/garlic/red pepper. The blossom was in a VERY BLAND tempurah batter. It truly tasted like tempurah batter flour. Not nice. My dining companion had the burger. Great bun, meat was fine...again, pretty boring flavor. Onion rings were good...because onions are flavorful...came with a side of plain mayo (yes, plain mayo) and ketchup. The grilled asparagus was grilled nicely with a side of...yup! Plain mayo. No spices, nothing. Weird. The side of chili spinach had hardly any chili and WAY too much butter/oil/water. I had to pour it out halfway through the side as the spinach was drowning in it. For the money, not what I expected at all. Not horrible, but not good either. The decor is gorgeous...I just hope the food can rise to the occasion.

Housemade charcuterie FTW!!, 4/18/2009
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
Poking my head into Square One on a whim always provides a treat. This time the menu's been changed up, prices are dropped, the food remains an excellent quality. I've been there twice now in as many days, once for the cheese plate of three California cheeses, and once to sample their housemade charcuterie and pasta. I had the foie gras torchon, country-style rabbit pate, duck prosciutto and pancetta. Served with cornichon and capers, wholegrain mustard, a small nibble of frissee and fennel salad and crostini, the charcuterie selections are just $5 each!! And there was a larger list to choose from. Of course this means I have to go back. The pasta was also housemade, and I had the duck egg tagliatelle with short ribs and pecorino, $12. Then chocolate pot de creme with pistachio cream and warm biscotti for dessert. SO GOOD. Square One is committed to using organically grown and sustainably raised ingredients, too. I'm super pleased with everything they do.

Artful dessert, 9/5/2008
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
Anyone who wants to experience a slice of Square One can do so at the paltry cost of $8. Seriously. I walked in late evening on a whim, sat at the bar, and dined on a beautiful dessert, a special of the evening. Local butternut squash rolled in a crisp pastry, sliced, topped with pecans and served warm with fig coulis and pecan ice cream. Warm, cold, crunchy, smooth, gently sweet - a perfect dessert for the cusp between seasons.

stab me and twist the blade, why don't you, 8/9/2008
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
Why I thought I'd died and gone to heaven: the dessert menu this week read foie gras profiteroles. Foie gras ice cream! In choux pastries! Like, two addictions rolled into one. But why I totally got pwnd on it: they were out. And maybe it's not coming back, ever. I never should have peeked at that menu!

Square One in Key West is Good but , 8/3/2008
Reviewer: Scott & Delores from Key West
Going to Santa Barbara on business, my wife and I fell in love with Square One. Key West has a Square One and its wonderful but not on the same scale as Square One in SB. The food is outstanding and the service is over the top. When I travel to SB I plan on making Square One everytime. WE (my wife and I) can not say enough about our experience. Outstanding. FIVE STARS all the way. Cheers. Scott and Delores

Disappointing , 5/18/2008
Reviewer: Barbra from Santa Barbara, CA
5 of us foodies looked forward to a nice dinner at Square One Friday night. The amuse bouche was nice. The communication & timing between the waitress & kitchen was WAY off. 4 of us were served, and sat there for 15 minutes for one of the ladies dinner to arrive; by then all of ours was cold. The one we were waiting on was supposedly seared fish; by the time they got it served it was well done fish. One gentleman requested nothing raw fish-wise, and was served almost raw scallops. 2 people got the undercooked scallops (nicely seared but totally raw inside) on an icky cold jelly... good old fashioned rice or potatoes or greens would have been more tasty. 1 diner requested the burger med/rare with no cheese. Came well done with cheese. The waitress seemed clueless. We were so disappointed as love the ambiance, thought of organic foods etc. Surprising lack of caring, despite only 3 tables being occupied. It's one thing if you get bad service/food at a truck stop, but not an upscale restaurant.

Masterful, 5/13/2008
Reviewer: Jonathan Tennenbaum from San Francisco, CA
This is easily one of the best restaurants I have ever experienced. I live in San Francisco and this tops the best SF has to offer. I dined alone at the bar, and told the chef and head server to bring out whatever they would like. I had six or seven courses, with wine pairings, for a FRACTION of the cost of many of California's top restaurants. Make no mistake, this is not an inexpensive restaurant. But for this quality and creativity, and compared to a lot of other places on this level, it is a great value. Each dish was very thoughtful, with delicate but definite flavors. There were bold menu choices incorporating some unusual flavor combinations. But everything seemed to fit, and I couldn't wait to see what they would bring out next! I cannot wait to come back to Santa Barbara just for this. I also appreciated that as a single diner, I garnered the same attention as the larger tables. Nicely executed both front and back of house. Kudos!

Culinary Explosion, 1/24/2008
Reviewer: Melissa from Santa Barbara
The setting is simple, elegant and straight forward, similar to their name and motto of "seasonal basics". Our waiter was educated on the menu, friendly and on top of things. Because I only have 200 words I wont’ get into everything we order but let me say, from the, Local Halibut Wrapped Kumamoto Oysters with a vegetable brunoise and tangerine agridulce to the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Pancetta, Brussels Sprouts, Crispy Paprika Onions and Red Wine Jus, which is prefect for a cold blustery winter night, the food was flawlessly executed and wonderfuly presented. It was a trueculinary explison for your taste buds and an art show for your eyes. Dinner for three with two appetizers ($8-18), four glasses of wine ($9-11) three entrees ($16-35) and two desserts ($8) without tip was $200.00. I can't say this about every place I eat at in Santa Barbara, but Square One was worth every penny and I look forward to my next amazing. flawlessly presented meal. If you’re a foodie then this is the place you need to be.

Really top notch - chef and head waitress owned, 1/19/2008
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
There's been one other restaurant where I felt that each course, and the little appetizers inbetween, were creative, amazing, and really expressed the passion of the chef and the people serving the food. But that place is up in the Napa area. Here in Santa Barbara, we have Square One. The owners fiercely try to source their food as locally as possible, growing it themselves if necessary. My companions and I all ordered the prix fixe menu, which states four courses, but there were tiny morsels served inbetween. We also got the foie gras plate that serves up three variations of the goose liver, all delicious, and a special of the night - duck egg with greens and truffle. We got a warm baby beet salad with melted brie on top, raw halibut served in oyster shells (one of the favorites of the night), a main dish of scallops and young pea shoots, and a dessert of poached pear with tamarind sorbet and a little finger of walnut bread. Somewhere in there was also dense chocolate truffle, bread, and seafood pate morsel. The head waitress recommended a wine that we were very pleased to drink, called Aqua Pumpkin (no actual pumpkin involved), it was a light red wine that went well with the seafood theme and was great with the chocolate truffle. For me, the portions were good, considering all the courses we had. Service was perfect, everyone knew the food and brought our plates at just the right moments. I really like this place and want to keep giving them business. The price to eat here is not cheap, but you also don't get cheap food. It's amazing. I wish I could afford this more often.

Best in town., 12/13/2007
Reviewer: JC from Santa Barbara
There are so many restaurants in Santa Barbara & Montecito that have great reputations and are supposed to be so wonderful. But in all actuality I would say that these restaurants have been on the downfall for a while. The chef's have moved on, other owners have come in, bla bla bla. I can think of several right now, but I won't name them. Square One is owned an operated by the head chef and head waitress. The food is always the best I have ever had. Steak, fish, anything, it doesn't matter. It is my favorite place in town and I would highly recommend going there and getting away from the old "top places" in town.

nothing short of heaven!, 12/13/2007
Reviewer: Jennifer from Santa Barbara
This place is amazing!! I have been to Square One many times and every time my husband and i go it is nothing short of heaven. Not only is the service amazing but the servers are beyond delightful. The food is amazing this is my faviort place in all of Santa Barbara and if you havent been to Square one yet you havent been to the best place here.

Don't go there too late, 11/11/2007
Reviewer: Thi from Santa Barbara
My husband and I have been to Square One a few times. We have always enjoyed the food. We've know the hamburgers and short ribs to be delicious. However, our most recent dining experience fell short of our expectations. Half of the menu was unavailable. The short ribs, steak for two, and anything lobster related were all sold out. We ended up ordering the "special" salad for the day (nothing special about it but the high price), the abolone appetizer (drenched in tomato sauce-couldn't taste the abolone). My husband had the burger which was well-done not medium-rare like it usually is and I had the quail which was the only other meat option for the evening since everything else was sold out. Stay away from the quail. It was not edible. The thigh was too salty and the rest of the bird was peppery. The service was great. The 3 times the waitress returned to tell us our order was not available she had a smile on her face. We eat out alot in SB. So it was very dissapointing that Square One fell short of our expectations. It WAS one of our favorite places to eat until this very unfortunate dining experience.

Totally Good!, 11/8/2007
Reviewer: Mike from sb, ca
They have the best short ribs ever! The menu is creative (but I think a culinary dictionary often is needed for clarification). I have been to Square One a few times and they have never dissapointed. They get the very best quality ingredients which I imagine would explain the higher prices. I'll gladly pay an extra few dollars for the best food available, cooked and prepared by top notch chefs! They definitely don't "try too hard"; The passion they have for good food and wine shows. They didn't get voted best new restaurant for nothing!!

good try but very short on execution, 11/6/2007
Reviewer: Emma from Santa Barbara CA
The really shameful part of my dinner was the main course. My husband's quail was literally caramel crusted, it was almost inedible. My monk fish was overcooked and the prosciutto around it was completely charred, my beans were unattractively crunchy. We think the chef tries too hard, this is heavy handed cooking and the flavors are really off.

overpriced and not good, 10/13/2007
Reviewer: karen smith from santa barbara california
I spent a lot of money and was not that impressed with the food. Portions were very small - tastes not that interesting - it seemed like I paid a lot for the plating which was attractive.

Excellent Food, 7/23/2007
Reviewer: Mike from Santa Barbara, CA
Square One is one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara by far. The restaurant is very clean and has a modern look to it which I enjoyed. The food was nothing short of superb, with complimentary appetizers to sample, which both my date and I enjoyed. Dessert was the best part. The waiters had a detailed knowledge of the menu and specials, and met every request made within a timely manner. The only complaint was it was too quiet, they need some background music, I felt I needed to whisper or keep my voice down, although it would not stop me from returning.

Enjoyable Experience Although Menu Needs . . . , 6/27/2007
Reviewer: Jeanne from Santa Barbara
I just ate here and I enjoyed myself and my group all seemed to enjoy the food. It all looked wonderful. I ordered the Crab with mashed potatoe (I forget the proper title on menu) And that is really all it was . . .Crab and mashed potatoes . . . for over $20!!!! Some at my table tasted it and had nothing to say as there was nothing to say about it (except that it is edible.) I enjoyed it but thought the price was insane for what I got. Not even a vegetable on the plate! That is my only complaint here . . . the high cost of such a bland meal. Could be a great place for many.

Great experience, 6/7/2007
Reviewer: David W from Santa barbara, CA
I've been wanting to try Square One for a while. My girlfriend and I went there last Sunday and had a great time. The place was pretty empty, which probably help with the service. Everything we had was excellent. I had the Hawaiian ahi appetizer and the pork chop entree. My girl friend had one of the salads and the sea bass. Our only complaints were that the sea bass could have used some kind of sauce, as the fish itself wasn't very rich, and I thought they used way too much truffle oil, but my girlfriend loved it. Our desserts were both great as well.

Excellent food menu but terrible wine list, 5/3/2007
Reviewer: Jon from Santa Barbara, CA
I ate at Square One for the first time. The food was excellent as was the service. But, for some reason they have a terrible wine list. Very limited selection overall, and especially in the reasonably priced range. And to top it all, they were out of our first two choices. I suggest going to this restaurant, but BYOB for a truly excellent experience.

Some of the comments, 11/10/2006
Reviewer: Marge from Goleta, CA
I think that Gary from CA should go to McDonalds next time and super size it, I am not sure anyone could please him he sounds like his cup is always half empty. I have been to Square One and think it is a wonderful place, and a big hats off to the owner for working so hard to have such a great restaurant.

A nice departure from the usual bar scene, 4/18/2006
Reviewer: C. A. Hart from Newport Beach, CA
We have eaten at Square One three times and each time we were not disapointed. The warm beet salad was the best I've ever had, served with a couple pieces of crisp goat cheese and water cress. I have had the Kobe burger (excellent), the beef plate with NY strip and short ribs (which melt in the mouth), and we have shared bites of the ravioli and the chicken, which were wonderful. The deserts were on the same level, my daughter swooned over the passion fruit and coconut parfait, and the cheese plates were paired with unusual and delicious tastes. Well done to the chef and the staff. We'll be back. Often.

Very good food, good presentation, excellent service, 4/2/2006
Reviewer: Anne from Santa Barbara, CA
My boyfriend and I had our 3rd anniversary dinner at Square One last week. We were a bit put off by some of the previous reviews but friends had highly recommended it so we gave it a try, and are really glad we did! The atmosphere was great - very minimalist but warm, with a good set up for privacy despite the small size of the restaurant. The service was outstanding - everything timed perfectly, very knowledgeable and friendly staff who paid a lot of attention but didn't hover, made great suggestions throughout, very accommodating (took a lot of care decanting the aged red wine we brought with us), etc. Our first server's shift was over halfway through our meal and the transition to another server was totally seamless. The food was very good - we shared the foie gras and oyster appetizers, both of which were given very flavorful and delicious presentations - the oysters in a cup of cucumber water and caviar over ice, the foie gras in two parts, one seared with a terrific fruit chutney and the second in a mousse, with bitter greens in between. The main courses were slightly less interesting/unusual in the preparation but both very good - duck breast and beef duo, the short ribs were phenomenal. Can't agree with Gary, in an earlier review - both dishes were very well prepared with great sauces. And a great cheese plate to finish (all cheeses from C'est Cheese of course) with wonderful accompaniments - I've probably had Humboldt Fog a hundred times, but it was exceptional served here with the roasted chestnuts and chestnut honey. The wine list has some unusual entries and a good price range. We'll be back!

Talk is Cheap, 3/29/2006
Reviewer: Gary from Santa Barbara
The menu talks the talk-A nicely written menu, but doesn't walk the walk. A chef that knows the verbage without the execution and it really shows. It seems to be a place with out an identity. This place is something out of San Francisco with transparency. I asked about the concept of flavors and the waitress clearly played down "fusion" and it certainly wasn't clear nor stated as anything. Maybe "French Nouveau" but clearly did not pull this off either. The appetizer list was a nice selection, but a limited entree menu. My partner and I tried the Beet salad and it was excellent and the Tuna Appetizer was good but the fish was clearly not fresh but the flavors of the potato and creme fraiche with lime was a nice combination. The Monkfish was a nice piece of fish with fresh veggies but the sauce has to go-not good at all and for the Halibut dish-it was just not good. The fish was a little over cooked, the herb flavor was good, but again the sauce was none existent. The carmelized onions with a touch of olives was the highlight. The sauce is so important and in both of these dishes it totally failed. The only chocolate dessert was like a one dimensional chocolate egg rolls that just didn't make the grade either. All the other preferred flavors of pralene and espresso was totally lost in chocolate. Forget all the cheese dishes and desserts and focus on some great desserts. Overall I felt like I was eating a college kids, trying to be French cuisine, and a chef without an identity and a concept on a different page. On a high note the presentation on the appetizers were good and I liked the portion sizes. The ambiance is more like a bedroom than a dining room with a clean crisp pottery barn feel. The blue colors are too "cool" for me-Not a warm feel at all-reconsider the colors. The waitress was pretty, professional, & seasoned but totally disconnected and uninformed about the style and flavors of the food. Almost uninterested. Also bread never came to the table and there was bread plates on the table. Not busy enough to forget so I am not sure what happened there. It is going to take a lot of work for me to want to go back and try this place again. At $150 for two people was O.K. if the chef could pull off the flavors otherwise it was not worth it. Remember it is all about the sauce and that is what people come back for and the sauces just were not good. Good luck

Menu needs some reconsideration...good concept, 2/10/2006
Reviewer: Aly from Santa Barbara
I have to give kudos to the servers. They are all doing a great job. The menu, while I support the trend of sustainable, local, organic ingredients.... leaves a bit to be desired. The ravioli was four room-temp postage-stamp size cheese-filled bits of pasta, for $20...and the pork was very fatty. The side of polenta was tasty, but salty and starchy...The wine list is comprehensive, but with few tresures to be had. The best thing about the meal was the amuse bouche (something more chefs should employ, by the way!!) but it was the same thing my mom usually makes for family bbqs...I think it has great potential...but really needs to revisit the menu. You're in SB, not NY. People will go once to try it out, but as it is, we won't come back.

Small entrees, 1/28/2006
Reviewer: Kathleen from CA
My husband and I dined here about a month ago. They were packed, we had no rerservation, and we were thrilled when they said we could eat at the bar. We love the bustling ambiance. We had excellent service. The cosmopolitan was great. The wine list had lots of good choices at all prices. Great hors doeuvres too. The skate (which we both ordered) was such a tiny portion, and there was nothing else on the plate. The skate was excellent but quite pricey for the small portion. The cheese plate for dessert was generous and tasty. The warm bread did not arrive when the cheese did. We had to ask for bread and wait while it was heated.

Interesting restaurant with great food and great service!, 1/23/2006
Reviewer: NI from Santa Barbara
I stopped by Square One last night for dinner. There's no sign out front, but it is next door to the Blue Agave. I started with an arugula and frisee salad with crunchy goat cheese on top and it was wonderful. For dinner, I had a wagyu N.Y. steak that melted in my mouth and was perfectly cooked. It was just like kobe beef and easily one of the best pieces of meat I've had in a long time. The portions are just the right size and the presentation is great. They also have an interesting selection of wines from different parts of the world. The service was just as good as the food. The entire staff was very freindly and helpful and really seemed to enjoy the restaurant themselves.

Fabulous!, 12/10/2005
Reviewer: Amy from Montecito, CA
I had the kobe beef burger (only $15), and it was as delicious as a steak. Cooked perfectly and the presentation was terrific. The cheese selection after dinner was such a nice alternative to dessert. The decor was fabulous and the service was great. Santa Barbara has another great restaurant!!!!! Can't wait to come back to that beautiful bar for cocktails.

Good Service, Food Lacking...., 12/8/2005
Reviewer: Allison from Santa Barbara
Granted, I had the Lentils le Puy which sounded a lot better than it actually was. First off, the dish was lentils with a potatoe garnish, that's it. No seasoning whatsoever and it arrived at the table cold - all of this for just $20! I'm feeling a bit ripped off to say the least. My husband had the salmon which was good but again, at $22 it was a bit light, very little else on the plate besides garnish. The square dishes and skinny flatware is self-conscious but the ambiance and decor overall is excellent. Very simple, calming, elegant. The service was very good, the hostess was freindly and helpful - very refreshing! I hope the food shapes up and the prices come down, I would certainly give it another shot.

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