Santa Barbara can sometimes be a fine dining tease, holding out fantastic things to those of us who feel each penny over $3, let alone $4, at the pump. It’s a case of our eyes being bigger than our wallets. So it’s good to see some of our better restaurants try to meet us halfway with special deals. Quantum Kitchen & Cocktails (201 W. Carrillo St., 884-0993) has a Pre-Theater Menu that I don’t think you have to show theater tickets to get Tuesday through Saturday from 5-6:30 p.m. For $25 (not counting tax and tip), you get three courses from a limited yet luscious menu. You could have, for instance, beet carpaccio, hash brown-crusted Pacific halibut, and a Farmers Market fruit crisp. Ruth’s Chris Steak House (3815 State St., 563-5674) offers a full meal for two for $89. That means you and your date, who will think the world of you for feeding him or her so well, will have an appetizer (seafood gumbo and a Caesar?), an entree (a petite filet and barbeque shrimp?) each, two sides to share (creamed spinach and sauteed mushrooms?), and one dessert (bread pudding with whiskey sauce-this time there’s no question) to share. You’ll feel full enough that that part will seem romantic. Finally, Downey’s (1305 State St., 966-5006) is now offering an “S.B. Tasting Menu,” a four course, loca-vore dinner paired with two glasses of S.B. County wines for $60 per person non-inclusive. A recent subtle and wonderful menu featured local crab served with cherimoya from Carpinteria and Ojai squab served with mulberries from the same town. The strawberries for dessert came from Tom Shepherd’s farm. The grunts of pleasure you will provide yourself.


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