Due to a personal meeting regarding an upcoming matrimonial
soiree, I had a meeting scheduled at the Wine Cask’s Intermezzo one
night a few months ago, which is in my downtown Presidio
neighborhood. However, after the three of us came upon a
filled-to-the-brim Intermezzo, which could be expected on a
Thursday eve around 6:30 p.m., we had to make a snap decision. The
restaurant we all agreed on first? The Blue
, a swanky fixture on East Cota Street’s off-State bustle
since 1995.


Since we were there to chat, drink, and not eat a full dinner,
we quickly whisked ourselves up the stairs to the lounge area.
Although quite dimly lit—we had to ask for another votive candle to
read the menu—the ambience was perfect for our casual discussion.
We all ordered wine: me, the Daniel Gehrs merlot; she, a Cotes du Rhone;
he, the house white, a Louis
. We had to wait quite awhile for that delivery, but
other than that, the service was acceptable.

After working up a small appetite discussing wedding
photography, I asked for an appetizer menu and mulled over the
choices. Though at first I was slightly dismayed by what seemed to
be uncreative bar bites—have my taste buds been spoiled by our
town’s uber creative chefs?—my grumbling stomach pointed me to the
ahi carpaccio and chipotle chicken quesadilla. As can be expected,
the ahi was delectable, served with crunchy noodles (probably a
fancier name for those…), a sweet, light teriyaki base, and a
wasabi sauce amidst greens. It went down fast.

But the quesadilla was the happy surprise of our selections:
large like a small pizza, smokey like a freshly grated chipotle
pepper (which are smoked jalapenos, if you didn’t know), and rich
like a good dinner should be. I washed it down with the Brophy
zinfandel, occasionally eyeing the party starting to get
semi-rowdy near the balcony and the folks tucked away in their
plush private booths behind me.

When it was time to pay up, it came to a reasonable $60, and we
walked out the door happy. Though the appetizer menu could use a
little creative sprucing and the service could be slightly more on
point, those are minor quibbles. Because as we expected when
deciding on the East Cota Street standby, the Blue Agave came
through once again.

The Details: The Blue Agave is located at 20 East Cota Street in
downtown Santa Barbara. Call 899-4694 or see www.blueagavesb.com. The website needs some more
content, but it’s got a menu option, so click here
for that.


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