A reader tells me that their reservations were canceled suddenly, just hours before dinner at The Silver Bough restaurant inside the Montecito Inn. Here is the message they received:


It is with much apologies that I am reaching out to you on behalf of The Silver Bough. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to open and honor your reservation. We are of course going to issue a full refund of your ticket purchase, and genuinely appreciate your interest in and support for the ambitious project we created. We look forward to the opportunity to invite you back to the concept in the future, when we have resolved our current issue.

If you are still looking for someplace to dine, we would love to invite you to make a reservation at either Sushi|Bar Montecito, or at The Monarch. If you need help making a reservation at either, please let me know and I’ll see how I can help.

Please accept my humblest apologies, and if there’s anything I can do in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you.”

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38 Responses to BOUGH-ING OUT?

  1. Richard says:

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Ill-conceived concept that most people said wouldn’t last long. Save your money and head up to French Laundry for a truly spectacular meal.

  2. Rex Of SB says:

    Oh, no! Where will I go to get my fix of curated squab tongue and artisanal brandy-seared acorns? I guess I’ll just have to settle for a french dip at Harry’s. *sigh*

  3. Kim says:

    Okay, feeling snarky! When they opened I gave them 6 months tops…anyone know how long they were actually in biz with this silly concept?

  4. socalcitizen says:

    It’s kind of a shame.

    These guys came to town trying to shake up a vanilla food scene, but their pricepoint is way wrong for any market. I lived in LA for a long time, travel to major cities often for business, and badly want more interesting high-end food in Santa Barbara. However the price/value ratio at Sushi Bar and Monarch is poor, and I never even considered Silver Bough as you’ve got to have a huge reputation to charge the prices they were asking.

    Not surprised they seem to be getting washed out, but hopefully they re-assess their prices and attack this another way. Maybe use Sugarfish as a model for Sushi Bar?

    People seem happy they failed. I’m not, and hope they do adjust their strategy.

    • Richard says:

      I am in agreement that Santa Barbara could use a really top-notch restaurant, worthy of a Michellin star if you use that criteria. I don’t mind spending top-dollar, either, if the food and service warrant it. I’ve eaten at several Michelin starred restaurants in Europe and a few in the United States that were spectacular and I never regretted spending several hundred dollars for the experience. However, it’s easy to spend at least $150- $250 or more here at some restaurants and get a pretty mediocre meal, which is just a waste of money in my opinion. I am not happy that Silver Bough failed either, but to charge the money they were asking right from the get-go without any history or reviews, instead of “putting in their dues”, was a mistake.

      • socalcitizen says:

        Agree wholeheartedly with everything you say here.

        In fact, we’re missing restaurants that justify spending $50-$75 per person. Many restaurants in town try to charge that, but their food doesn’t merit it for the most part, and so they don’t seem to last. Most of what we have/get is derivative when compared to what’s already here.

        It’s quite bizarre to me. You could say the cost of real estate and labor requires higher prices, but the Westside of LA, SF, Manhattan, Paris, London, etc, all deal with similar economics.

        • Bob says:

          The locations you mention have hundreds if not thousands of times more potential customers. Doing this once a week and needing the customer make future ‘ticket’ reservations eliminates even more customers. This concept really does not qualify for an actual restaurant, it does get rave reviews when it is open. Now it seems like they might have given up

    • Dugan says:

      Fully agree !

      I too gave them a few months (at best).

      Just overpricing overly expensive ingredients does NOT make a Michelin 3 stars!

      They were convinced they would (soon) get 3 stars.
      Maybe some more humility might have helped.

      And the reason they’re referring to sushi bar is that, there too, the experience is failing.
      Went there once : will never go back. (Ridiculously) small portions, just about the same overwhelming and denaturing lemon based sauce on each bite, nothing of special interest among the chosen fishes.

      They either change or they’ll be gone soon too .

  5. Rex Of SB says:

    Maybe Warren Butler can convert it into another Events Center.

  6. QQQ says:

    It’s a fantastic dining experience. I’ve been. And I’ve been to many top restaurants all over the world, this place stands with the best of them. We’re lucky to have it and I sincerely wish them every success.

  7. Andy says:

    socalcitizen: I agree a thousand percent.

    Rex of SB: It’s the obvious next step.

  8. Dugan says:

    It was doomed. From the start . Théy already gavé themselves à Michelin 3 star ! What à joke

  9. Faith says:

    As a frequent visitor of the Monarch, I have to say that their food, when the kitchen staff is on, is really well done. I’ve visited other Michelin star restaurants and what they have that this group does not, is great service and consistency. When the Monarch is firing on all cylinders, the experience is worth the price. I’ve also been there and had to wait 1.5 for my dinner reservation, had horrible service, and experienced half of their menu being unavailable because they were sold out. I hope they get it together and realize that it’s not the concept that’s the issue, it’s the execution. I would really hate to see them fail.

  10. Jacky winter says:

    you cannot compare Santa Barbara with LA. London etc. we just don’t have the volume. This is a small town not a cosmopolitan city

    • Richard says:

      Jacky, I don’t really buy in to what you are saying. While true that we certainly don’t have the volume of the two cities you mention, neither does St Helena where French Laundry is located – try to get a table there and you experience the ultimate in frustration. That’s because customers want to go there go there because it deserves it’s Michelin rating – those customers being mostly tourists coming from other places which is true with many of the starred restaurants world-wide. And that’s what we have in Santa Barbara – lots of tourists, especially with the wine scene. If we had a recognized, starred Michelin restaurant featuring a bona-fide top chef and professional servers it would probably do well by becoming part of the destination spot SB has become

    • Gary Sudd says:

      Plus lots of Anglo saxons in Sb. Many don’t appreciate food except hamburgers, hamburgers, and pizza places. Sounds like Sweden.

  11. Mattie says:

    I think everyone here has good points but the thing is…SB is a still a very provincial town. It’s often quite misunderstood because people come here and think it’s a certain way (based often on their own perception of what it SHOULD be like to them.)

    There’s always been a mix of tourism, old and new monied locals here but we just don’t “behave” like a sophisticated town. There’s something to lovee about that, in a way. And there’s just no comparing us to someplace like Yountville OR LA.

    There is something almost indescribable that causes SB restaurants to fail, even when they’re excellent. People here just aren’t like people in other places and they never have been. For better or worse. A lot of people just miss this salient fact. *shrug*

    • Richard says:

      I understand some of the points that you are making, but I’m not sure that’s the reason Santa Barbara should not, or could not, have a Top-Tier, Michelin starred restaurant. That type of restaurant would hope local residents support them, but know not for the long run. The many celebrities we seem to have here would certainly support such a restaurant occasionally, but the main draw and clientele base for these starred places comes from visiting gourmets, or however you want to describe a “foodie”.

      If you look at some of the locations that have Michelin restaurants, many are in larger cities, of course, but also many, mostly in Europe, are in pretty remote locations. I know I certainly have been in some pretty obscure places. But those “locations” become destination places for the people seeking a really fine dining experience.

      To date, no tourists, wealthy or otherwise, come to Santa Barbara for a dining nirvana. But if we had one, maybe it would help bring in those type of foodie folks and aid both our local economy and “provincial profile”. Remember, Yountville is as close to San Francisco as Los Angeles is to Santa Barbara – so we’re not even “back woods” by Michelin standards. “Just sayin”.

    • Dugan says:

      I’ve eaten in many 3 stars in totally remote locations. Some with less than 1,000 inhabitants in the village.
      They are successful and full because they’re excellent and attract people from all over the world.
      S.B. certainly has all it takes to attract 3 stars restaurants .
      It lacks good enough chefs as well as locals willing to patronize outstanding places ..

      • Richard says:

        Dugan and socialcitizen, thanks for acknowledging the point I was making about not needing a big local population base to support a restaurant worthy of a Michelin star. As you mention, they succeed because they offer an experience worthy of the price. And good points you make regarding the mediocrity of many pretty expensive local restaurants and why they fail. We rarely go out here for the $75+ a head (before wine) meals because I can actually prepare better food at home for one-third the cost and I don’t have to become aggravated by poor service and seeing the same “local ingredients” concept at all these places.

        • Dugan says:

          Richard :
          I do the exact same : I cook at home and if you exclude tax and tips and multiple on wine you can eat (better) for 1/4th the price.
          And your meat will be cooked exactly the way YOU like it.
          You’ll have as much veggies as you wish, can take seconds , can eat at a time that’s convenient for you and do not have to worry about possibly having half a glass to much to drink ..
          We almost never go out here to find that the choice is between items you don’t care for or items (scallops for instance) that appear on each menu : how boring !

  12. Mattie says:

    @ Richard
    I don’t at all disagree that we SHOULD have some better places to eat. My point was just that we don’t seem to have the environment to sustain that (or attract it, maybe?) Also, I wasn’t using provincial as a putdown. I’m a native, I love this town. But, I do think that is a good word to describe the attitude towards new stuff, high end or otherwise.

    • socalcitizen says:

      I think it’s a good word choice, but people here do have the disposable income to support $$$ and $$$$ concepts, and I think they’ll support if the quality of food merits higher prices.

      We simply don’t have anything in that pricepoint that would survive in LA due to the quality of the food/experience, aside from maybe Bouchon, so it’s no surprise they fail here as well.

      Perhaps a gastronomy-type concept wouldn’t fair well here, but I think multiple places that are more interesting and $50-$75 per person like Craft, Hinoki and the Bird, Tar and Roses, Sugarfish, Genwa, Plant Food Wine, etc to name a few popular LA restaurants could thrive concurrently. This market is crying out for something better than safe American New.

      I think it’s ironic that in 2019 I’ve eaten Santa Barbara Spot Prawns in SF, LA, and NYC, but don’t know anywhere to get them in Santa Barbara.

      • debbie says:

        See guys,
        Let’s say you are young, energetic, and love food…

        You choose to become a chef, you love it, you get really good at it, working your way up through the ranks over years and years of training, getting paid peanuts….

        But you say to yourself ” I love what I do, and money really doesn’t matter that much anyways”….
        So you are a fantastic, creative Chef now…….but you don’t have the cash to do what everyone you know says you should do….( this is where you start looking for a rich “partner”……) and anyone who is in the business knows exactly how this will play out…..

        And this, my friends, is the main issue here!

  13. Hefe says:

    We gave it try it was fun although over ambitious. Half the dishes were great a quarter just ok and a few i lterally had to spit them out . Way over use of truffle by the end i asked to stop adding to the dishes . Honestly this guy is basically a con man and /or delusional.

  14. Dugan says:

    I believe Silver Bough is done.
    They are not “accepting reservations” and it’s not going to get better.
    Say goodbye to a very poor bad idea !