Say “howdy” or “hola” to The Californian

Bars, Drink, Eat, Play, Sydney / 28 August 2013

The Drink ‘n’ Dine team are the masters at great booze with food to boot. Their latest dining destination, The Californian, has opened inside Santa Barbara (under the Coke sign in Potts Point) and it is true to their stellar form.
I was unsure how a more structured dining area would work inside Santa Barbara, however it appears to do so very well indeed. Part of the front bar has been sectioned off and filled with tables, chairs and more random photos and paraphernalia (as if they didn’t have an impressive array in there already!) This means that The Californian has its own bar, with its bartenders enthusiastically preparing new signature drinks such as the Jalapeno Margarita, with jalapeno-infused tequila and aloe vera. Spicy, smooth and perfect for a little somethin’ somethin’.
And there is plenty of that. Although the LA slash Mexican slash Korean fare may sound confusing at first, it works, and it’s damn tasty.  How about a Short Rib Slider with Kimchee, Radish and Sriracha? Or a Calamari Slider with Mango Salsa, Slaw and Habenero Mayo? The buns are soft, the fillings are generous and the sauces are so good that they could almost be served over the bar in a shot glass.
BBQ Corn with Chipotle and Toasted Coconut is a refreshing interlude and serves as a bit of a palate cleanser before the Crispy Duck Taco with Hoi Sin BBQ Sauce, Green Onions and Cucumber. Tacos feature on a few of the Drink ‘n’ Dine restaurant and bar menus, so it is not surprising that they have nailed this one – it should be on your list of items to order the first time you sit down in the lacquered dining room.
We finish off with Korean Fried Chicken with Red Dragon Sauce and Daikon Pickle. This is a much lighter piece of chicken than I envisaged (and thankfully for us messy eaters, there are no bones). However it was so easy to eat, topped off by the cooling daikon pickle on the side, that I forgot to take a photo of it!
If there were not already enough good reasons to go to Santa Barbara – cool tunes, lush drinks, a totally boogie-worthy DF and a fab view back over Sydney, then The Californian is a great one. And in order to make your dining experience as simple yet varied as possible, The Californian is offering its menu as a banquet style for $55 per head – all you have to do is pick your preferred slider or taco, three big dishes, three small dishes and a salad – too easy. Adios my chingu, see ya’ll there real soon!
The Californian:
Santa Barbara, 1 Bayswater Road,
Potts Point, Sydney, NSW 2011
Ph: (02) 9357 7882
The Californian at Santa Barbara on Urbanspoon