Courtesy Photo

When the Goodland Hotel was opened in the old Holiday Inn on Calle Real in Goleta, much rejoicing ensued by the neighbors, as the Kimpton ownership group was known for dumping loads of attention into its food and drink programs.

And the Outpost restaurant and lobby-side Good Bar began with deserved bangs, thanks in part to Chef Derek Simcik, who was recently named one of People magazine’s sexiest chefs but now cooks at Scout in the Thompson Seattle hotel, and head bartender Chris Burmeister, who pumped out inventive spins on classic cocktails yet now runs Citizen Rail in Denver. It’s not like things went steeply downhill with their departures — the Goodland never stopped being Goleta’s go-to place for a drink and dinner in a stylish setting — but there were some bumps in the road, and the originally cohesive creative vision seemed to slack a bit.

So this past September, Chef James Siao, who also runs Finch & Fork at Kimpton’s Canary Hotel downtown, took the official reins at Outpost, and recently unveiled a streamlined menu that’s more user-friendly, for both diners and servers — rather than the multiple menu categories of years past (which were certainly on-trend at the time), the new offerings are simply listed as “Plates,” and family-style sharing is encouraged.

There were plenty of highlights at a recent tasting, including the marinated shrimp salad ($15), in which the plump crustaceans sit atop poblano broth and roasted peanuts, and the steak tartare ($13), which gets an Asian-spice kick thanks to the gochujang aioli. But the highlight — and the menu item that best reflects the get-your-hands-dirty-with-friends communal feeling intended by Siao’s revamp — are the roasted seabass lettuce wraps ($17). Grab a piece of lettuce, throw in some herbs, crispy shallots, and hunk of fish, and dip away in the Vietnamese sauce. They’re delicious, relatively lightweight, and yet fulfilling on many levels.

5650 Calle Real, Goleta; (805) 964-1288;


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