<b>BROMANCE: </b> Jeff (left) and Matt Nichols have opened for business, again, at their latest Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn.
Paul Wellman

Despite how delicious and welcoming Los Olivos restaurant Sides Hardware and Shoes is — and it’s a 2013 Foodie Award Winner, so you know what The Indy thinks — it’s possible it’s sort of a, well, side project. For when you talk to Jeff Nichols, who, along with Matt, are the owners/chefs/brothers behind Brothers Restaurant projects, it’s clear their latest project is the one. “We’re really excited about our future; it’s what we’ve been dreaming about and working toward,” he enthuses.

That project is Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn, opening November 23. “The transition away from Mattei’s Tavern was very difficult for everyone, including the community,” Jeff says, referring to the Nichols’ 10-year run at the storied property that ended in March 2012 when they lost the lease. But at the new Red Barn, he continues, “We’re doing what we heard everyone wants — revisiting our classic Brothers’ cuisine, dishes like the prime filet with Stilton and port-wine sauce, the pan-roasted salmon with horseradish crust, the glazed pork chop with apple sauce, and appetizers like house-made smoked salmon and the tuna tartare — everybody’s been chomping at the bit for that.”

Everyone, including the Nichols, has had a bit longer to chomp that bit than they might have originally planned, as the brothers signed the lease at the Red Barn in May 2012. “It’s been a long journey. We basically gutted the building, taking it down to its two-by-fours,” Jeff says. “While the outside looks the same, it’s got new insulation, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical. It’s got a high ceiling inside and not a low one like it used to have. We gave it a new kitchen and added a wine cellar so we can correctly store wines, mostly local ones.”

And while the old bar area is preserved, particularly the branding irons on the wood beams, it will feature casual bar tables from the old Mattei’s. “We’re renaming the bar after a long-term employee — J.C.’s Bar at the Red Barn,” Jeff explains. “His story is unique — he started at Mattei’s, then worked at the Red Barn for many years, then worked at Mattei’s for us.” Throughout, Nichols highlights the strength of the team, calling out pastry chef Stephanie Jackson, GM Brianna Cromer, and chef de cuisine Michael Cherney by name for kudos.

Sides will continue doing its fine food, by the way (think hammered pig, amazing soups, lamb sirloin), as it’s just a “five- or six-minute drive [between the two], depending upon whether I take the scenic route through town or the highway,” Jeff jokes. “Sides was completely a new concept, but all the food here is different. The Red Barn will be doing the dishes we’d been doing at Mattei’s — an American chophouse with great seafood, using products from local farmers as much a possible.” That approach certainly is a draw, as the restaurant sold out its Thanksgiving seating basically just on the rumor it was opening.

“Our goal was to respect the history of the site, but also blend in Brothers’ cuisine and everything we did in years gone by,” Jeff sums up, “including reestablishing our restaurant as the gathering place for our community of Santa Ynez Valley.”


Relish the return of the full savory sibling experience at Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn, located at 3539 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. For more info, call (805) 688-4142 or visit brothersredbarn.com.


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