Destination dining: Brothers at the Red Barn opens in Santa Ynez

Brothers Matt and Jeff Nichols, the duo behind Sides Hardware & Shoes and until just last year, Brothers at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, have just opened Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn. It’s taken the two a year to remodel the iconic red barn that can be seen from Highway 246.

The menu will bring back many of the dishes from their repertoire at Brothers. That would include kabocha squash soup, horseradish-crusted Irish salmon with whole grain mustard sauce, grilled Iowa pork rib chop with applesauce and honey butter — and their slow-roasted prime rib, always a favorite with a bottle of Santa Rita Hills Pinot. Many of these favorite dishes are in the cookbook the brothers published in 2010, “Brothers Cuisine: Recipes From Santa Barbara, California Wine Country.”

Matt Nichols is doing the wine list, which is pretty much all bottles from Santa Barbara County AVAs and will include older vintages local winemakers have contributed to the cellar. And just because he fancies the bubbly, a number of Champagnes.


As for the building, they’ve kept the red paint on the exterior. Inside, the firm RPM Architects has raised the ceiling and restored the wood beams. There’s an open display kitchen and a glassed-in wine room. Two wood-burning fireplaces add warmth to the space, especially in this season.

In the bar, a slab of wood from a felled pine tree from Figueroa Mountain does duty as the bar top. And in keeping with the rustic look, the Nichols hired local blacksmith Hans Duus to make a pair of wrought iron and rope chandeliers outfitted with replica Edison bulbs. The art consists of nostalgic black-and-white photographs of Los Rancheros Visitores, a club of horsemen and ranchers that dates back to 1929.

For 50 years, the Red Barn was the place where Valley ranchers got together to drink and eat. Those were the days when Lloyd and Clara Borkman owned and ran the restaurant. And it’s those ranchers who, at the invitation of the Borkmans, put their brands on the beams in the bar. More than 175 ranches are represented, many of them no longer a presence in the valley.

The bar has been rechristened JC’s Bar after bar manager JC Carricaburu and will offer a bar menu of snacks all day long. So, if you find yourself hungry after wine-tasting in the valley, here’s one place you can get something to eat no matter the hour.

Brothers Restaurant at the Red Barn, 3539 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez; (805) 688-4142;


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