If you’re like me, nothing makes your spirits drop or your stomach rumble more than the words “the wait’s about 45 minutes right now” after you’ve just asked for a table to fit your party.
That’s what happened on Friday night in Buellton, a mountain town about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara proper. I’d grown tired of my favorite Santa Barbara eateries, and if you’re willing to make the trek, the towns of the Santa Ynez wine country offer a plentiful bunch of gourmet, laid-back grubberies to accompany all that Syrah they’re busy fermenting.
I’ll be the first to admit that my vegetarian-ness is just the start of my picky eater status; really I can be a whole-hearted food snob. Red-faced and eyes to the floor, I have to admit that I love the places where people are thinking waaaay too hard about the food combinations that are playing on their palates.
And when you want snobby food, wine country is the place to find it.
I knew Avanti Tapas and Wine was going to be good just by the ratio of young men in button down shirts and casual shoes standing around comparing their talents at the wrist flick that is the wine swirl. And I was hungry enough to start gnawing on wine corks if someone didn’t bring a basket of bread PRONTO.
“45 minutes,” the hostess said, and a dark cloud settled over Avanti’s dining room. But what was that thing in the back on the left? Something so shiny it lured us in like fish.
Oh that? That’s a Wine Station – a self-serve wine fountain offering tastes and half and full glasses via a “wine card.” So here’s the deal: you get a card and make your way over to the wall of Wine Stations, where inside bottles of wine sit chilled and waiting to be selected like prizes at an arcade ticket cash-in. By putting your card into the station and pushing the button for the taste or glass of wine that you’d like, the machine pours your selection daintily and obediently as you would imagine a high-tech fountain of youth would. Then at the end of the night, you put on your best confused face as the waitress asks for your wine card to tally your bill. What card?
The cool part was that they had some $ really nice $ wines available on which I wouldn’t have splurged for a glass, but a $3 taste? Hell yea! This (cheap) snob is saying yes to $3 tastes!
So we spent our wait time tasting the best of the wine country nectar. And 25 satisfying minutes later we were seated. The food was delicious. Just two snobs enjoying a meal the old fashioned way