Readers Daddy, Kay Lee and Chompee McGillicutty let me know that Somerset restaurant at 7 East Anapamu Street, which opened last December, closes October 23rd. Chompee says that owner Steve Hermann — a Montecito-based architectural designer and hotelier who purchased the property for $2 million in 2015 and then spent “millions” more renovating it — will be remodeling the space and vibe toward a more casual concept. I am hearing that chefs Lauren Herman and Christina Olufso, along with mixologist George Piperis, will stay on. The new restaurant is expected to open two to three weeks after closing. Here is a message to you from Somerset management:

“We would like to Thank our loyal patrons for supporting us this past year. After much thought, we are closing our fine dining restaurant, Somerset, beginning October 23rd, 2017. While we have had an overwhelming amount of appreciation and support from our guests during this first year, we have found that it was time to move towards a more accessible dining experience for our Santa Barbara community. We will be closed for a brief renovation before we open our new casual restaurant in the 7 East Anapamu space. Thank you! Sincerely, Management”

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  1. Amanda says:

    Are these the nutters that had an awful restaurant description filled with juxtapositions? Fancy, but accessible..elegant…down to earth…etc.

    • Amanda says:

      Ah yes- this old gem from last year:
      ““It will be very high-end fine dining but very approachable and casual,” says Jordan Fife, Director of Development and Operations at Steve Hermann Design and Steve Hermann Hotels. “It’s not something you have to wear a suit for. You could wear flip-flops and a button-up. It’s not a tasting-style menu. It’s come in and order whatever you want. It’s a place to come in and have a cocktail and an appetizer, or come out to the courtyard and have a white tablecloth fine dining experience. It’s whatever kind of element you want. It’s casual just like Santa Barbara is but bringing some of the best food from the best places in the world.”

  2. David Avrick says:

    The reason we have not gone to Somerset is that it really has nothing for vegetarians. Even though only a tiny fraction of your potential customers are vegetarian .. it also means me, my wife and my friends are not eating there.

  3. ADinSB says:

    Hmmm…. maybe they shouldn’t have turned up their noses at the locals….. I went in and the attitude toward us non-hipster folk was palatable.

  4. Dugan says:

    How about “staying close” as a new concept ?

  5. Lily says:

    How about they just try a new menu with lower price point and more casual presentation and see how it goes before sinking more money into decor? In the end of the day, people go to restaurant to eat, not admire the furniture and light fixtures.

  6. john jay says:

    maybe when they had the fire that was a hint to stay closed

  7. Cathy Milner says:

    I just went there last night. There were 4 of us, and we all loved it. My husband and I are moving to Santa Barbara next month, and are happy to know this beautiful and delicious restaurant is not far from our home. We’ll try the new place as soon as it opens!

  8. Discerning diner says:

    Went once. Was patronised, badly fed and over-charged.
    Their press release has more cr*p in it than their food. Must think the public are stupid (which may have been their mistake first time around).

  9. Lynn says:

    I have eaten at Somerset several times-breakfasts and dinners. I was never disappointed, their food was excellent. It was a little pricey but the tastes were so good I kept coming back. I look forward to them re-opening and am so glad they are keeping the same chef, etc. I did not find they turned their noses up at me as a local who went in wearing very casual clothes. I look forward to their next incarnation.

  10. ARG says:

    Looking forward to the new concept! Went there several times, the menu concepts were brilliant and the beverage program both wine and cocktails punched in the same weight class.

    The servers were all locals, admired their craft, and are great friends of mine.

    I wish the restaurant the best as they decide to restructure and look forward to supporting the next concept.

    Good Luck!


  11. Christine says:

    Hubby and I have considered going a handful of times, but the menu prices have always turned us away. We keep saying, “maybe for a really special occasion.” Will keep it on our short list of places to try once the new menu pricing is out.

  12. KEH says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised. The quotes from the owner when he first opened made me cringe. Here is a refresher for anyone who has forgotten.

  13. Martha Townsend says:

    I made reservations for Saturday because we had guests coming in from Orange County who wanted us to pick a “hot” restaurant… they are from Orange County and I thought Somerset would be swanky and just right for these foodies. I had been once with girlfriends and another dinner at the bar with my husband.. while the service was mediocre both times we thought the food was on par… albeit very expensive and thought we’d give it another shot.

    Last week we started hearing murmurings about Somerset’s do-over. I went online and found your article and read the reviews. We proceeded with caution and enthusiasm.

    We had made reservations on OPEN TABLE two weeks ago with a request for the patio for an early dinner reservation at 6:30. When we arrived the hostess hesitated and told us a wait for the patio was an hour because it was first-come-first serve. I told her we had a reservation…she said your reservation is for a table we don’t guarantee a location. I told her they should hve notified us in advance. We escalated to a manager where we noticed there were 3 four tops open. she told us those were saved for reservations. We were stunned… what? It became very uncomfortable all the while we saw a couple being seated outside while they were workign so hard to NOT serve us.

    We learned Saturday was their last night. Clearly they didn’t have the A team and they were prepared to leave these 20 year SAnta BArbaran’s who live in the neighborhood quite upset.

    Note to Somerset… You are not that big of a deal. We left and dropped down to the funk zone where Les Marchand made a special meal and experience for us. You can’t sustain a business on tourism and LA people alone. Locals have options and Santa Barbaran’s are loyal to those who understand welcoming hospitality… think Bouchon, Plow and Angel, Paradise, Toma, Fig and Olive, Petit Valentin, the Chuck’s franchise…. Newcomers … without hospitality we won’t return and you need our recurring business.

    I’ll not be too open to the new Somerset… too manyother choices.

    • Dugan says:

      Your sad experience is typical at this restaurant.
      And unless they change pretty much the whole staff (which they won’t do) nothing much will be improved when they “re open”.
      Einstein said it best : “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results” ..

  14. Mercury Rising says:

    As a local, we found the chef was finding her way. Maybe too late? We didn’t make somerset in our regular rotation for dining out because of the corkage fee $40/bottle. Hopefully this will change to be more “casual” too.

  15. Kim says:

    Was there a few weeks ago on a Friday night. We were told by the bar tender that they’d really like to close soon. It was 10:30pm. No effort put in to making us feel like they wanted us there or appreciated our business. Not a good experience.

  16. Shaun says:

    Went to Somerset on Sunday brunch to be turned away because of a private event. These guys really don’t want to make money. After reading the reviews on this webpage, I encourage the owner to continue being successful as an designer and not a restauranteur.

  17. LizW says:

    If he would have followed the recommendations from Lauren and Christina from the get go I doubt a redo would have been needed. I expect they will keep quality minus the pretentiousness

  18. Jamie says:

    Has anyone heard of a furniture sale?

  19. Katie says:

    Poor place missed the mark. My friends and I were at the bar during Solstice (day of parade, middle of the day) and the two friends to my right were asked to leave or quiet down; we were hardly a rowdy bunch it’s just a small room. The place was nearly empty, except for 1 or 2 couples at the other end of the bar and outside. It was SOLSTICE. And two more of our friends had just arrived. So rather than having 7 people buy expensive drinks, they made us feel unwelcome and we went to other places that had a lighter, less stuffy atmosphere.

  20. Mark says:

    I thought George made great cocktails!

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