Doug Margerum has re-opened his legendary Santa Barbara restaurant The Wine Cask. The city’s first and finest vine-to-table restaurant, the rebirth hopes to put failed ownership under L.A.’s Bernard Rosenson behind it. Rosenson transformed the El Paseo space into something few found flattering to its once esteemed reputation. He also had trouble paying rent which lead to closure. Following that flop, Margerum surprisingly stepped back in this year to reclaim the restaurant, teaming with former Wine Cask employee and current Bouchon (not that one) and Seagrass owner Mitchell Sjerven.
Though the dining room and courtyard appear to be back in form, minus a beautiful tree Rosenson tore out, there have been some big changes. Chef David Sundeen, formerly of S.B.’s Citronelle, is currently in the kitchen cooking a refreshed menu of what’s being called “American-Riveria” cuisine that goes heavy on local greens and seafood.
There’s an intended casual approach now to the refined options of yore, though priced around $30 an entree. Lunch is served only at adjacent Intermezzo now and a closer relationship with the area’s winemakers is stressed from the restaurant to the also re-opened street-side wine store. For proof, The Independent reports that Margerum will not be trying to acquire the prestigious Grand Award from Wine Spectator (the restaurant won the commendation from 1994-2006). Mitchell explains, “The Grand Award required $300,000-$400,000 of what you call dead inventory, wines that no one’s ever going to order.” A more relaxed approach seems to be sitting well with locals, who are mostly just happy the restaurant has returned to recognizable form and execution. 813 Anacapa St. Santa Barbara. 805-966-9463.