Located in downtown Santa Barbara, Bouchon is a friendly French country-style restaurant that offers very solid French inspired renderings while sourcing the freshest produce and foods that California's Central Coast has to offer.
We recently visited Bouchon again and were met at the door with a welcoming blast of warmth from the restaurant's open cooking area, and the wonderful smell of white wine, butter, shallots and garlic all cooking together to create a thick, very inviting aroma. Bouchon doesn't have a lot of seating available - there is a covered patio seating area and intimate indoor seating surrounded by lovely modern style art. The wooden flooring adds to the ambiance of this comfortable restaurant.
Bouchon has been open for more than a decade. In fact, the duck dish we had has been on the menu for 13 years and has survived three chefs. It has consistently remained wonderful, notably because it combines a perfectly prepared medium rare duck breast nestled into a carefully intense dark fruit sauce. It is topped by a braised duck thigh with a completely different taste that itself is rested on its side in a sort of corn and fava bean duck confit.
Bouchon boasts an excellent central coast wine list, and by the glass. We had a great and otherwise obscure local Pinot noir that matched the duck very well. You can trust the staff to steer you to the right wine.
The place offers a very good roasted chicken breast of the European cut atop buttery mashed potatoes that is well described as French comfort food. Salads are terrific, using a nice light oil with lots of little light goodies such as seeds, nuts and crumbled cheeses folded into the leaves.
Bouchon also prides itself on its fish courses which include local wild sea bass and ahi tuna. A local Meyer lemon bread pudding was dessert and it alone was worth the visit. Service is good and friendly.
Bouchon is one of the few fine dining places in Santa Barbara that is open on a Monday night. We had no problem getting a table reserved at the time we wanted, which was 7 pm. However, the place was packed when we left. You need a reservation at this place!
We had a three course meal for two with a shared dessert in addition and just a couple glasses of wine, which cost about $150 with a nice tip. A public parking lot is just a few steps away.