Musik Makers: Smart folks know that there’s more to classical muzak in Santa Barbara than the Santa Barbara Symphony (bless ’em) and CAMA, which brings the great orchestras of the world to the Arlington.

But right up there is the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, performing in more intimate fashion at the comfy, cozy, Lobero Theatre, which was filled to the brim the other night. (I didn’t even need binoculars, which I always use from the very last row at the Arlington – not just because they’re the cheap seats, but because Sue likes it there.) Guest conductor Edwin Outwater, a UCSB grad who was as energetic as a rock star on the podium, led the orchestra in Handel’s Water Music and one of Beethoven’s lesser-known (to me, anyway) pieces, Symphony No. 4. The next concert is January 22 at the Lobero.

Adios, Sage, Hola Seagrass: Mitchell Sjerven, owner of Bouchon restaurant, is making a fast turnaround with his new acquisition, the space at Anacapa and Ortega where Sage & Onion closed earlier this week. Mitchell will reopen the restaurant under the name “Seagrass,” offering up fine dining that focuses on fresh fish and seafood starting this Christmas Eve. He’s already working on decor changes and has a website up listing the upcoming menu. Visit Bouchon, on restaurant row in the first block of West Victoria, serves French, country-style cuisine, and specializes in carrying local wines. Is the former Sage & Onion location a problem? “I love it,” Mitchell told me. “It’s got great parking in the adjacent city lot,” he said.

Nu No More: Now that Nu restaurant is gone from the 1129 courtyard, the owner is making major renovations to the property and the rumor is that a new eatery will be moving in. One name being mentioned is the Melting Pot, a chain which you might have guessed serves up fondue. (Holy 1970s!) During my years at the News-Press, the newsroom gang made regular pilgrimages across State Street to Pierre Lafond in Paseo Nuevo for a java fix. Alas, this branch of the Lafond Empire has closed. The others remain, fortunately. And over at the Hotel Andalucia, soon to be renamed Canary, a revamped and improved restaurant is in the offing. Kahuna Grill is moving into the empty space occupied by X number of earlier eateries in Paseo Nuevo next to the theater. (Not the Lafond spot.)

Laura’s Dressing: No, not putting on her clothes, but taking over the Mousse Odile salad dressing brand. You know, of course, that the beloved Mousse Odile French restaurant on East Cota Street closed a few years ago, and we’re all waiting impatiently for Gene Montesano to finish remodeling and open whatever eatery he’s planning to put there. And you know that hard-working Laura owns the immensely popular Pascucci spot in the 700 block of State. I left a message on her voicemail about the salad dressing and she later apologized for not returning the call. “We were too busy making dressing.” By coincidence, I’d just bought a bottle at Tri-County Produce.

Nutcracker: I can’t keep track of all the Nutcrackers being staged, but the one Sue and I are headed for is the State Street Ballet performance at the Lobero, held Saturday, December 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Hope House: Vie Obern reminds me that the 1875 Hope House, 399 Nogal Drive, will be open Sunday, December 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. The 13-room mansion was built by Thomas Hope and designed in Italianate style by Peter Barber. Today, Vie tells me, “The residents are the owner’s (that’s Vie) daughter and son-in-law, Dale and Greg Hoeffiger. Their four daughters filled the house with family fun, as did the six Hope children a century earlier.”

Barney Brantingham can be reached at or 805-965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.


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