From the mouths of babes come names of wine bars. That was the case for business partners Jeremy Bohrer (of Still, the cocktail supply store on Ortega Street) and Sayward Rebhal (healthy lifestyle blogger at bonzaiaphrodite.com) when they were trying to name their new spot, an afternoon-to-evening collaboration inside Pacific Crêpes, which is Still’s Anacapa Street neighbor.
Trying to avoid the usual suspects, Bohrer and Rebhal were at a loss until her son, Waits, insisted that he was “five and a quarter!” when asked about his age. “It was catchy, so I said, ‘Let’s just call it that!’” recalled Bohrer, “He was so excited we named the bistro after him, but now he’s asked us, ‘Are you going to rename it five and two-thirds?’”
It’s become much more than just a name for this two-month-old establishment, which took over the Pacific Crêpes dining room at night soon after owner Yvan Morin decided to focus on breakfast and lunch and stop dinner. Five & ¼ opens at 5:15 p.m., of course, and offers a daily glass of white and red each for $5.25. “The best deal in town,” promised Bohrer. “It’s not Mondavi Coastal Cab but instead interesting wines.”
By serving such intriguing wines, Five & ¼ is cleverly breaking away from the Santa Barbara pack. “It’s difficult to find Old World–style wines, certainly here in Santa Barbara,” said Bohrer, a 15-year vet of the wine and spirits industry who’s tired of those fruit-forward, high-alcohol wines common across California. “We worked really hard to taste a lot of wine that we thought were great values, too, because again in Santa Barbara, the price of wine by the glass is creeping up.”
To help patrons navigate this unusual world, the menu is broken into three categories: Safer, Stranger, and Geeky. “Because the wines are so unfamiliar to most, we thought people would get a sense of how adventurous they might be,” explained Bohrer. That means your safer choice could be a St. Cosme Côtes du Rhone, your stranger pick a Crazy Creatures Grüner Veltliner, and your geeky selection a Masseria Li Veli Susumaniello from Puglia, Italy, a rustic yet satisfying red that Bohrer claimed his wine rep had never opened before.
There’s also a lovely light menu of farm-to-table dishes that’s not your usual cheese and charcuterie. Bites include olives, popcorn dusted in rotating exotics (like a pinch of sugar and Persian black lime), and cashews to die for, coated in rosemary, cayenne, and avocado oil, served warm. Larger portions feature Sri Lankan mango curry and dolmas. “Come have a Greek xinomavro and an Indian chickpea pancake,” encouraged Bohrer, who serves the latter, called pudlas, with mushroom, onion, cilantro, and avo.
And don’t fret if you hear someone shout “Yahtzee!” Five & ¼ also lets you play board games while you sip. Think of it as your friendly, casual course into a fascinating new world of Old World wine.
Five & ¼ takes over Pacific Crêpes (705 Anacapa St.) 5:15-10 p.m. every Thursday-Saturday. See fiveandaquartersb.com.