Nuance

4
51 Reviews
$30 and under
Californian

About

Nuance (previously the Blue Tavern) is a restaurant in Santa Barbara. This is a cocktail bar and restaurant that serves modern American cuisine. The vibe is fun and lively, making it a great place to stop by for a fun time after work or on the weekend. Mixologists at the Nuance bar handcraft cocktails and make a unique drink list for patrons to enjoy.

Many guests choose to order a variety of small appetizer dishes from Nuance's menu to go along with drinks. There are many delicious choices for small plates, such as the wood-fired focaccia bread, forest mushroom toast and the fried oysters. Some popular entrées include the English pea risotto, Mary's organic roasted chicken and the steak frites.

What 51 people are sayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.0based on all time ratings
4.3
food
4.2
service
3.8
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
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SB
vipSBGuy
Central Coast
48 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2016
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We dined there this past Sunday, and it turns out it must have been their last night. Tough location, especially right now with all the construction.

WC
vipWCinHP
Chicago
17 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2016
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our dinner was fun (great staff); unique (eclectic dishes); and delicious (flavors and preparation superb).

The Wood Fired Focaccia is a must it will spoil your concept of bread for the table.

The Corn and Crab Risotto each item robust in flavor and when combined enhanced each ingredient to its next level.

Mary’s Organic Roasted Chicken you have to try this; a description will never do the dinner justice…its perfect.

The San Ysidro Cocktail the best twist on a Manhattan I have tried.

The Old Fashion not on the cocktail menu but recommended by our server. If you are familiar with the idiom "Up to eleven” coined in the movie This Is Spinal Tap – well this is an Old Fashion turned "Up to eleven.” Cheers, bottoms up, down the hatch, here’s mud in your eye homage to the mixologist of Nuance.

Courtney and staff – Bravo!

MC
MaryC
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2015
Overall4food5service4ambience3

Excellent food but very noisy. Ate outside, cold but OK. Noise level probably especially high due Near Years but really would have been difficult inside. Service fine and have already recommended to others. Food wonderful!

R
vipRobyne
Minneapolis
26 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2015
Overall4food3service4ambience4

Kudos to Chef Charlotte for Nuance! Her easy going style of creating beautiful food was wonderful. Slight touches of spices never overwhelmed her wonderful Loup de Mer - just enhanced it! Party of five for dinner, each with different tastes... But managed to please everyone. Great staff, excellent ambience and decor - especially the large painted image of Pola Negri! A great evening.

LE
vipLetsEat
New York Area
31 reviews
Dined on December 19, 2015
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Loved every dish! A group of five of us shared lots of appetizers and side dishes and mains and EVERYTHING was great. How often can you say that?! Plus, the service was terrific and the setting is lovely . New favorite place!

RE
vipRobEgenolf
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on December 7, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience4

An extraordinary experience. The mixologist never disappoints, the food is always great, the service very enjoyable and efficient and the overall experience wonderful. One of our favorite spots in Santa Barbara

SB
vipSBGuy
Central Coast
48 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2015
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Finally, someone gets it right in this location. There were so many great-sounding items on the menu it was hard to choose. The tomato puree/soup with pesto was outstanding, as was the wood fired focaccia bread. My wife enjoyed her beet salad with burrata. My perfectly-seared red snapper was harmonious with its eggplant caponata. They have complimentary filtered still or sparkling water; always welcome. The only very minor snag was a bus person who tried to grab our focaccia bread off the table without asking whether we were done with it (we weren't).

This restaurant quickly made our "best of Santa Barbara" list and we will be back. Often.

l
viplocal
Central Coast
32 reviews
Dined on November 27, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Honestly, these bar drinks (cocktails and anything you want them to make) couldn't be better. They use small batch artisan alcohol (hard liquor) obscure producers, it is so exciting to try something new with such a high quality alcohol. Creativity is wonderful and this artsy bartender embraced it. Since I tired Nuance few weeks ago , we just kept coming back. Best drinks in town, and food is amazing, but don't skip deserts ...some serious surprises hide in there, too!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on November 21, 2015
Overall4food5service5ambience3

Menu here is fantastic and each dish I've had is creatively but deliciously prepared. Reminds me of some of the trendier spots you'd find in LA or SF. Service is solid and it's never hard to get a table, they also have some nice seating along the bar.

L
vipLeslie
Central Coast
34 reviews
Dined on November 14, 2015
Overall3food4service4ambience3

The food is great at Nuance. Service is also very good. Be prepared to yell at your table mates to be heard above the noise - or eat early with the quieter (and older) crowd.

a
anonymous
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on November 9, 2015
Overall2food3service1ambience3

Service was a nightmare. Steer clear of the gnocchi, even though the server will tell you it's "the best gnocchi I've ever had". Server was not knowledgeable about the menu. Rest of the food was pretty good. To give a taste of the poor service, the appetizers were delivered at exactly the same time as the entrees. Truly horrible service. Also, they won't serve burgers to diners at tables; they will only serve to bar seated patrons.

G
Gail
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on November 7, 2015
Overall4food5service5ambience4

Overall, excellent food and service, however, the noise level from the customers was almost painful! The occasional train going by was fun but the acoustics in the room really need to be addressed.

BM
BuddyMai
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2015
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We love the ambiance, the service, the food. Especially the focaccia bread, the rack of lamb...The location is a little far on State though, and the train noise a little bit difficult for conversation.

CG
vip3Cheers4GoodFood
Los Angeles
21 reviews
Dined on October 31, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Everything was delicious. The lamb shanks were outstanding! We were told the dish was new to the menu, so hopefully it will stick around. Friendly waitstaff made the evening run smoothly. Will definitely visit again when we're in the area.

EH
EverHopefulSantaBarbara
Central Coast
3 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2015
Overall1food1service1ambience2

We had dined there once, and were on the fence about returning. But friends indicated they had enjoyed several times since. Also, Westways, the AAA magazine, recently profiled the restaurant. Our experience the other night was, however, most disappointing. The restaurant did not seem that crowded (about 25% full, considering inside and outside dining). But the wait staff were hurried, and disinterested. The hostess refilled our water, but confused sparkling with flat. She did see her mistake and corrected it, but the task of remembering did not seem that complicated, particularly when the restaurant was not that busy. It took a long time to order drinks and to receive them. The time to order food after receiving drinks was also long. The food was also disappointing. We recalled that the focaccia was outstanding, but this time it was doughy, and served to the table with no knife to cut pieces and no butter, olive oil, etc. The dishes were not good either. The soft boiled egg on the mushroom toast tasted "old". I won't belabor, but would definitely not recommend this restaurant. The prices are high, and nothing about the experience made me feel it was worth it----except for the company at my table, which came at no extra cost.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great appetizers especially the octopus and hamachi. The cocktails were outstanding.

k
vipkhakidog
London
18 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2015
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Nuance, located at the Indigo Hotel, provides a great addition to a restaurant poor neighborhood of lower State Street. The food selections were fresh and seasonal and preparation was simple but tasty. While I would not say this was a foodie's restaurant, I found the food satisfying and the service and ambience very good.

h
viphwjunkie
Los Angeles
47 reviews
Dined on October 10, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Everything from the service to the food is top notch! We ordered the Grilled Octopus Appetizer which was really good and the chilled watermelon gazpacho which was great on a hot day. For the entrees we had the Crab and Corn Rissoto and the Steak Frites, both were delicious. We can't wait to go back again.

MC
My2Cents
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on October 6, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Had dinner here for the first time and everything we ate was delicious. The servers were all very attentive without being intrusive. The beignets were outstanding! We will likely come back just for the beignets and a glass of wine when we want a dessert date night out. It's a bit pricey, but worth what you pay.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2015
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Fabulous experience eating here, the food was very exciting, kept simple but beautiful flavours! Absolutely loved the cocktails here too - world class. We sat outside on the front patio and watched the evening stream by, we'd love to come back next time we're in town.

O
Oliver
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on September 5, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We have had dinner at Nuance 4 times now and love the vibe, the food and the energy. Our waiter this last time was good but not outstanding. The service staff overall was attentive. The food presentation is great and the ambiance is casual and hip!

L
Lilly
Central Coast
18 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2015
Overall4food5service5ambience4

We loved this restaurant. It was our first visit and the staff was friendly and had good recommendations. We loved everything from the hamachi appetizer to our entrees to dessert. Everything was fresh and really delicious. We live in the neighborhood and are happy to see something with a pleasant atmosphere and great food fill the space.

M
Mmmg
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This was my second time at Nuance. It was superb. Food is consistent and interesting. Dessert
is great .. I can go on and on. It is all great and I am a picky eater with high expectations!

PS
PickySBEater
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on August 21, 2015
Overall4food5service4ambience3

We all loved our dinner. From the delicious and creative cocktails, to the fantastic grilled octopus and Hamachi, through to the heirloom salads and finally the really, really delicious Snapper, chicken and pork chop's we enjoyed. Every one of us thought the preparation and the taste was fantastic. The only real downside is the noise level in the small room. It gets very loud. Maybe they can hang some acoustic tiles or something, as it was really hard to hear your tablemates during the busy hour.

It seems that fine dining in SB has reached a new price point. The specials were in the mid $30's, the salads in the mid teens and the apps from $15-20. Pushing a dinner for four with drinks in the $350+ range. Expensive but the food was worth it as we all left full, happy and ready to do it again. Service was good, not 4 star level but good. We'll be back.

KB
KatharineB
Hawaii
8 reviews
Dined on August 20, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful restaurant, the food was terrific.
Walked there from my hotel on Castillo.
Definitely a must eat at restaurant.

UT
vipUnderTheRadar
Central Coast
4 reviews
Dined on August 19, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had never been to this restaurant before. Upon entering, it was very lively indoors. We opted to sit outside which was very nice for conversation. It is close to the train tracks, but only 2 trains went by during the beginning of our meal.
The staff was very pleasant, service-oriented, and good with instructions. Several people came by to check on us at various intervals.
There were some unique offerings on the menu so it was nice to get outside of the dishes we typically order and go for something a bit different. The food was fresh and well-prepared, with a flavorful and appropriate amount of seasoning.
Definitely recommend.

R
vipRedtweety
Central Coast
43 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Had a wonderful dinner, great service and a perfect table outside.
Must try the mushroom toast, so good and the steak, fries with bernise sauce. Bartender was great at making up drinks for me.

HD
vipHappyDiner
Central Coast
110 reviews
Dined on July 24, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We stopped by after a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl because this was one of the only decent late night spots we could find and we were very pleasantly surprised. The food was quite delicious with an amazing strawberry and heirloom tomato salad, yummy hamachi, grilled octopus, and the steak fritters (great french fries!). The staff was very attentive and professional and while it is an open kitchen and the bar runs half the length of the restaurant, it was charming and trendy. A nice addition to the Santa Barbara palate.

EJ
vipEmilyJ
Los Angeles
24 reviews
Dined on July 22, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Food was dee-licious as were the cocktails. Wait staff made great recommendations.

r
viprobbieo
Miami
4 reviews
Dined on July 8, 2015
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Talented young chef. Food and service were perfect. Wonderfully creative cocktail list

SK
SeanK
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on July 4, 2015
Overall3food3service3ambience3

All in all kind of just ok. I had the tagletelle and was hoping for a flavorful and rich sauce. It was kind of bland. Bit mediocre. Waiter didnt offer favorite dishes or warn against any either. It's nice when you get a little guidance. I wouldn't go back nor recommend it. Average.

G
vipGulp
Central Coast
31 reviews
Dined on July 3, 2015
Overall3food4service3ambience3

Clean simple well devised menu. Ok wine list, creative fun cocktail concoctions.
Nice addition to lower State St.restaurant scene.

A
vipAlexandra
Los Angeles
13 reviews
Dined on June 29, 2015
Overall4food4service4ambience3

The restaurant is small and as other reviewers noted very loud. Modern and attractive on the minimalistic decor side. We were greeted by a very friendly hostess and our server Jeff was attentive and helpful. The food was great and menu interesting. I had the pea risotto and my friend the loup de mer, both were delicious! We shared the heirloom tomatoe starter which had a nice twist of added strawberries and honey goat cheese. My two complaints would be the noise level and the amount of time we waited between courses, otherwise it has my compliments!

M
vipMarsha
Central Coast
181 reviews
Dined on June 21, 2015
Overall3food3service3ambience4

We thought we would like this place from the decor, but when we saw the menu, it changed our minds. The menu is very limited and very strange. Our waiter was personable and took our order quickly, but then it took forever for us to get our focaccia bread...we ate all our salad before getting the bread to go with it. My foie gras was excellent, but my friend's mushroom dish was not good. The drinks are $16 apiece! The strawberry shortcake came with way too few strawberries. All in all, not a good experience and we would not return or recommend this restaurant to others.

AZ
vipAZFoodie
Phoenix
52 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2015
Overall3food5service2ambience3

This restaurant is on its third chief and they finally got that part right. She is amazing and her flavors and menu items are spot-on!!! On the low side, the noise level is unbearable and the staff need training. The only person that cared was the hostess; she might also be the manager.
TIP: ask to sit outside, its much quieter.

B
vipBill
Central Coast
51 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2015
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Great spot for unique food very well thought out fresh and tasty.

K
Karen805
Central Coast
5 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2015
Overall3food4service4ambience2

What's good - food (interesting menu choices and generous servings)and service was excellent.
What's not so good - Way too much noise if you want to have a conversation. Also, the mixed drinks are short on booz.

s
vipsbesq23
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on May 30, 2015
Overall4food4service4ambience3

This place has tons of potential. Noise inside was DEAFENING but it was lovely outside with heaters. The only reason I didn't give service 5 stars is because our appetizers arrived before our drinks. Servers were knowledgeable, friendly and attentive.
Dishes were fresh and quite good. There is no salt or pepper on the table, and I think a few dishes could've used a tiny bit more salt. We had beef tartare (almost perfect -bites just a bit too big and could use a little salt), mushroom toast (fabulous dish with poached egg); beets (at first not served hot so they replaced quickly); grilled shrimp with gorgeous pea shoots; and pasta with lamb ragu (absolutely delicious - as good as Ca Dario but less heavy). Dessert was a lovely strawberry shortcake that wasn't very sweet - it was perfect. We will give this another try. After all, Lark wasn't perfect for the first few months either!

f
vipfoodforthought
Central Coast
143 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2015
Overall3food3service3ambience1

Venue: New owner Courtney is facing the same challenging location issues that the prior failed operators had trouble dealing with. The small space has all hard surfaces and high ceiling which means it's the LOUDEST restaurant we've been to, it's hard to even hear each other talk and then you throw in the train-motorcycle-car noise from right out their front door on State Street, so forget about having a quiet romantic or serious business dinner!! This area of State is under tremendous construction activity with the accompanied congestion and contractor traffic. No self parking, only valet and it looks like they have to put your car somewhere a block away. We would not take one of our good cars here because where is it being watched?
Food:
Excellent: Grilled Spanish Octopus, Sweet Brentwood Corn
OK: Pork Chop, Roasted Chicken (Plough & Angel does much better)
Not Great: side of beets (The Lark is much better), Strawberry Shortcake had a very bland cake

Service: Gees, there were 5 customers and it took the bartender over 10 minutes to make two cocktails. Martini came in one of those small punch bowl glasses. Server was eager but needs better training.

Pricing: We guess that rent on this space is probably real high since all the new equipment and seating was left over from the last operator. Wow, there must have been over 12 employees there with just the place half full. With a cocktail, glass of wine, app, main, 2 sides, desert, tip: the tab was around $240 for 2 which is at the top 15% of the Santa Barbara market. So how many people want to put up with a noisy bad location for this price?? We can go to San Ysidro Ranch, Bella Vista, Lucky's, Downy's, etc for a much better experience at a similar check.

KM
vipKateM
Los Angeles
87 reviews
Dined on May 24, 2015
Overall4food4service5ambience3

This is the third iteration for this location-the other 2 started out pretty well but failed.
Small menu (small kitchen) but I like that. Octopus with black lentils were fabulous , as was the hamachi. Great LupbDe Mer
Seems to be moving in the right direction.

FAQs

Nuance offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (805) 845-0989.

Nuance is rated 4 stars by 51 OpenTable diners.